Steam Next Fest
Image via Valve.

10 Steam Next Fest Demos You Have to Try – June 2023 Edition

The best of the fest.

Believe it or not, Steam Next Fest events are great for finding a ton of new games to throw on your wishlist. If it weren’t for the event, I would’ve never heard of Severed Steel, a game that is the literal definition of gun-fu. The hardest part of these events is undoubtedly the fact that there are hundreds of demos that you have to sift through. That’s why I’ve done the heavy lifting for you. Over the past few days, I’ve played 75 different demos, enjoyed roughly half of them, and narrowed it down to 10 demos that I think deserve the spotlight as the best Steam Next Fest offerings. Here they are!

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Loddlenaut

Loddlenaut Loddle
Image via Moon Lagoon

This little indie gem first appeared at a previous Wholesome Direct and, after a round of funding through Kickstarter, finally released a demo! Loddlenaut sees you play as a little astronaut who’s come across a vast underwater planet, only that planet is full of all sorts of junk and pollutants left to damage the local fauna. Thankfully, you’ve come equipped with the tools to fix that. Using your trusty tools, you’ll suck up leftover bottles and six-pack rings, while destroying any goop turning this once lifeless ocean bed into a life-filled ecosystem. I knew I’d love this game’s chill vibes the minute I saw it, let alone the cute “loddles” you can feed and make happy along the way, and it sure didn’t disappoint.

Viewfinder

Viewfinder Photo
Image via Sad Owl Studios.

Were you a fan of the perspective puzzler Superliminal? Did you find The Witness a cool game, though far too pretentious? Well, Viewfinder puts a unique twist on the former while correcting the mistakes of the latter to bring a new perspective to portraits. As you play, you’ll take photos of the environment while using those photos and twisting them to appear as part of the game world, allowing you to traverse unreachable areas and progress. All of this is underlined by an interesting look into dreams and dream worlds. Like the two games mentioned before, Viewfinder seems to be the next big puzzler a lot of people will be talking about, as will I.

World’s Worst Handyman

World's Worst Handyman Toilet
Image via Baby Lumberjack.

World’s Worst Handyman sees you play as the average Joe, working at the local animal shelter before it comes under financial ruin. Thankfully, your skills (or lack thereof) in being a proud Handyman can come to use. Taking odd jobs as they come up, you’ll beat the hell out of clogged toilets with plungers, steal keys of your clients when they aren’t looking, and only get caught about twelve times in a uniquely silly take on the stealth genre. There are even cute chickens, and who doesn’t love cute chickens?

Sea of Stars

Sea of Stars Characters
Image via Sabotage Studio.

Fans of classic RPGs like Chrono Trigger are going to want to keep a close eye on Sea of Stars. This new RPG from the creators of The Messenger brings that classic gameplay into the spotlight with a new story, modernized mechanics, beautiful visuals, and fluid animations. I rarely dabble in turn-based RPGs, yet I can’t help but feel the charm of Sea of Stars will quickly have me drowning in its beauty.

Echo Point Nova

Echo Point Nova Hoverboard
Image via Greylock Studio.

It’s funny I mentioned Severed Steel earlier, as the developer’s next game Echo Point Nova is part of this edition of Steam Next Fest. Similar to that game, your goal is to move around as quickly as possible, shoot as many enemies as you can, and ride a goddamn hoverboard. Yes, a first-person shooter with a hoverboard. Leaning less on slow-motion decision-making and more on destroying massive waves of foes, Echo Point Nova is a fantastic feeling FPS for you and your friends. Be sure to try dev MattWLA’s other game while you’re at it, even if it doesn’t have co-op.

El Paso, Elsewhere

El Paso, Elsewhere Dive
Image via Strange Scaffold.

Given the popularity of the Max Payne games, it’s shocking so few games have attempted to replicate its style (let alone well). Thankfully, El Paso, Elsewhere seems to be continuing that with some very similar gunplay, only leading much further into its horrific dream sequences. I was shocked to see such great writing too. This is one of the few demos on this list where I stopped early as to not ruin the full experience for myself, so I highly suggest diving in yourself. Or dive backward, either work.

Laika: Aged Through Blood

Laika Aged Through Blood Boss Battle
Image via Brainwash Gang.

Admittedly I thought this game might interest me a little without earning a spot on this list, though it was a very welcome surprise. Laika: Aged Through Blood sees you play as a mother coyote whose tribe falls under attack by a hostile bird clan, igniting a war for vengeance to take back what’s been lost. All of this, with a lone gun and a bike. Thanks to some refreshing mechanics and great wasteland vibes, Laika: Aged Through Blood stands as an adventure where its demo is merely revving up for what to expect. Even if you don’t play it, check out the excellent main theme.

Cataclismo

Cataclismo Battle
Image via Digital Sun.

One of the reasons I haven’t played many games like Cataclismo in recent years is due to that constant focus to improve the lives of your citizens with only a small portion of time put toward actual combat. Cataclismo flips it on its head, putting way more focus into building defenses and constructing a small army to defend your home, and rebuild civilization. There’s effort put into tactical buffs, rewards for positioning forces based on their strengths, and a lot more. Coming from the team behind Moonlighter and publisher Humble Games, Cataclismo is a game you’ll want to keep a keen eye on.

Astrea: Six-Sided Oracles

Astrea: Six-Sided Oracles Dice Battle
Image via Little Leo Games.

Astrea: Six-Sided Oracles holds a unique place on this list of being the one game here that was suggested to me through Twitter, let alone by the developer. Given my apprehension towards games centered around dice after my experience with the drastically overrated Dicey Dungeons, I would’ve likely dodged it otherwise. Through heavy surprise by me though, it was one of my favorites of the fest. It manages to keep its focus on the “six-sided” aspect with dice but holds enough strategy elements in there that the randomness of it all never feels like it takes too prominent a role. The simplicity of the art and the beauty of it all are the cherry on top.

En Garde

En Garde Blade Dance
Image via Fireplace Games.

While En Garde sells itself on its satirical nature and the silliness of its characters (trust me, there’s plenty of that), where En Garde truly shines is in its fluid, difficult, and rewarding combat. As the main character Adalia, you’ll be doing everything from simple jabs, to clean parries, to even kicking boxes at enemies. The sandbox of the game causes it to shine, turning seemingly impossible odds into a dance of blades sheerly through skill. It had so many ways it could’ve failed, but En Garde stands tall as a sharp, witty, and clean fencing fighter.

Related: How to Play the Lies of P Demo

If you have time for more than 10 demos, here are a few more games that didn’t quite make the cut but are still well worth your time:

  • Voidborn
  • SteamWorld Build
  • Quest Master
  • Escape from Mystwood Mansion
  • Station to Station
  • Venba
  • Thronefall

While we’re on the topic of demos, check out our thoughts on the demo for Lies of P, a soulslike that holds a dark theme in the best of ways.


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Author
Shawn Robinson
Shawn is a freelance gaming journalist who's been with Prima Games for a year and a half, writing mainly about FPS games and RPGs. He even brings several years of experience at other sites like The Nerd Stash to the table. While he doesn't bring a fancy degree to the table, he brings immense attention to detail with his guides, reviews, and news, leveraging his decade and a half of gaming knowledge. If he isn't writing about games, he's likely getting zero kills in his favorite FPS or yelling at the game when it was 100% his fault that he died.