Steam Next Fest has officially kicked off, with the week-long celebration of upcoming indie games set to conclude by 13 February 2023. Before then, you can (and should) hop onto Steam to check out a fresh array of game demos that chart a variety of genres, from crafting and adventuring simulators, to dungeon crawlers, town management games, and even spooky supernatural tales.
You’ll likely find some anticipated hits in this array – like cutesy life simulator Mineko’s Night Market, and recently revealed titles like The Last Case of Benedict Fox and I Am Future – but there’s also a strong lineup of hidden gems here, from the gorgeous-looking Mr. Saitou, to planet-faring journey Mars First Logistics and the twee indie adventure, Mail Time.
Hop into any of these game demos, and you might just find your new favourite adventure. Here’s every demo we recommend checking out during Steam Next Fest.
- Mail Time
- I Am Future
- Mineko’s Night Market
- Mr. Saitou
- Mars First Logistics
- Darkest Dungeon 2
- The Last Case of Benedict Fox
- Deceive Inc.
Mail Time is a wholesome adventure game featuring a mushroom-girl protagonist on a quest to deliver mail in the town of Grumblewood Grove. Each animal you encounter on our path could be your new best friend – and the game’s Steam Next Fest demo starts you on this delightful-looking journey.
If you’re looking for a calming trip through a cosy world, Mail Time is the perfect balm.
I Am Future
The world of I Am Future is empty – and it’s your job to fix it. In this exploration-based city builder, you’re an engineer living in a flooded town, attempting to make it liveable again. To do that, you’ll farm, fish, and craft your way through a number of challenges, eventually working to establish a new world with working technologies and liveable land. It’s a bit SimCity, and a bit Animal Crossing, with your character being a tangible part of the game’s gentrification processes.
Mineko’s Night Market
Mineko’s Night Market is a sweet narrative-adventure game that takes place in a Japan-inspired town filled with cute little cats, and an array of friendly townsfolk. As Mineko, you’ll spend your time taking part in activities, wandering, and uncovering fresh secrets about the strange mythology of Mount Fugu, and the town’s cat god, Abe. Between making friends and finding new hangouts, you’ll also be completing odd quests and preparing for magical markets in this adventure.
Mr. Saitou is a short narrative game about a depressed office worker who is transported to a magical fantasy land to discover the true meaning of happiness and fulfilment. Not only does this game look absolutely gorgeous, thanks to a colourful pixel art style, it also tells a very relatable story. While it will likely break your heart – the game may hit very close to home, for some – it also looks like a worthy and joyful tale filled with warmth.
Mars First Logistics
Mars First Logistics is an Australian-made ‘open world physics game’ where you can build your own space-faring vehicles. It’s essentially a sandbox for your imagination – and you can play it however you choose. Spend time earning money by completing various tasks, then use this money to unlock new vehicle parts, and build the Mars rover of your dreams. Every component can be used in a different way, to cross sunset plains, giant ravines, or tall mountains. The world is your oyster in this free-form simulator.
Darkest Dungeon 2
Darkest Dungeon 2 is on the cusp of launching out of Early Access, so as part of Steam Next Fest, developer Red Hook Studios is giving everyone a chance to dive in. The newly-released DD2 demo allows players to embody a range of heroes, and stomp through the game’s opening levels. While play is limited to early regions, it’s a great taster of what’s to come in May 2023. Anyone who enjoyed the original Darkest Dungeon, or just loves a good roguelike dungeon crawler, should certainly give this sequel a go.
You can check out the Darkest Dungeon 2 demo on Steam here.
Fabledom is a dazzling, fantasy-themed city builder that allows you to develop your own village, at your own pace, by building up a starting settlement, trading with nearby clans, and eventually growing an entire kingdom. This game appears cosy in the inside and the outside, and features a warm, cartoonish art style that makes building a pure joy. Fabledom is currently aiming to launch in Early Access in Q1 2023.
If you’re looking for a different kind of city builder, more in line with Stardew Valley, then Pixelshire is certainly a game you should check out during Steam Next Fest. This cutesy farming simulator also doubles as a neat RPG, with players able to spend time building up their village by fishing, farming, and performing other activities, while also questing through enchanted forests, and meeting new folks along the way.
The Last Case of Benedict Fox
The Last Case of Benedict Fox is an eldritch horror adventure that features all the hallmarks of the genre: ‘a twisted world of secret organisations, forbidden rituals, and cold-blooded murders.’ It looks to be a unique side-scrolling journey that combines the best of Lovecraft with Little Nightmares and Castlevania gameplay. You’ll need to keep your wits about you as you fend off demons and other foes in Benedict Fox – although playing the Steam Next Fest demo should give you some clues as to what you’ll encounter in the full game.
Deceive Inc. is a colourful and snappy multiplayer PvP game where you play as a dangerous spy working to defeat a raft of rivals. As you play through rounds, you’ll discover new weapons and gadgets to deploy, with each lending itself to frantic battles and espionage. You can spend your time blending in, making your mark, or just working to survive as threats mount all around. Whatever method you choose, you’ll likely find something to love about this twist on PvP gameplay.
Steam Next Fest runs online until 13 February 2023. If you’re looking to check out any of these demos, you’ll need to get in quick – they tend to disappear once the festival is over.