Steam Next Fest 2024: 10 game demos to check out ASAP

The first Steam Next Fest of 2024 has officially kicked off.
prim steam next fest game demos

Steam Next Fest has officially returned, with hundreds of free game demos now available to play, until 12 February 2024. The week-long celebration of new and upcoming games is ripe for discovering fresh hits, and particularly those that have slid under the radar of mainstream news coverage. While we can’t cover all of them here, there are certainly plenty in this year’s Steam Next Fest celebrations that stand out.

Everyone has their own tastes and preferences, but if you’re looking for an alternative opinion – or just another lot of new game demos to check out – here’s what caught our very particular eye at GamesHub.


prim game demo steam next fest

PRIM is an upcoming gothic point-and-click adventure inspired by the whimsical art style of Tim Burton. In the game, you are the titular Prim – a young girl who discovers she’s actually the daughter of Death himself. After the passing of her mother, Prim must move in with Death, obey his rules, and try to survive.

But of course, nothing quite goes right for Prim, so it’s up to you to save her from a life of misery. The game’s demo gives a taste of its macabre, delightful tone, and shows off exactly why it’s a game to watch in 2024.

Harold Halibut

harold halibut game demo
Image: Slow Bros.

Harold Halibut is a phenomenal-looking game that’s been in development for several years – as every element in the game has been handcrafted using traditional sculpting and claymation techniques. The result is a unique-looking adventure with a wonderful aesthetic that frequently makes you question how developer Slow Bros. has pulled it off.

After several years of waiting for this game, we’re likely to see it arrive in 2024 – so now is the time to check it out and learn why it should rightfully be considered one of the most anticipated games of the year.

Bears in Space

bears in space
Image: Broadside Games

Bears in Space is an upcoming “zany retro-futuristic” bullet hell FPS with a devotion to absurdity and colourful strangeness. In the game, you’ll be able to transform into a bear, wield an array of rocket-powered weaponry, and unleash real chaos.

Beyond being a neat spin on the first person shooter genre, Bears in Space is also unique for being a rare game in development at Ipswich in Queensland, Australia. We always love to see Australian representation in Steam Next Fest – particularly when there’s werebears involved.


makeroom game steam next fest
Image: Kenney

Sometimes, you just need a bit of cosy relief in your life – and MakeRoom seems like it’ll be the perfect salve when you need a quick break. This diorama simulator allows you to create and design your own tiny living spaces – bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens, outdoor areas and more – with an array of tiny, doll-like furniture available for decoration.

There’s no real goals in the game, but that’s what makes it so appealing. It’s all about taking a break, decorating a tiny space, and creating a spot of peace in your day.


steam next fest game demos
Image: Akupara Games / Paul Hart / Lee Williams

Cryptmaster is a lovely, gothic-looking adventure game where you’re tasked with exploring a dungeon, and wielding words to gain advantage. As you roam, you’ll solve an array of puzzles to strengthen each of your dungeon-crawling heroes, providing them with new abilities and tools in tiny games of Scrabble.

Beyond its unique word-based mechanics, what most appeals about Cryptmaster is a unique black-and-white aesthetic that makes the entire journey feel like a living storybook. There’s plenty of cool ideas in this game, and plenty of reasons to check it out during Steam Next Fest.

Sushi Ben (VR)

Image: Big Brane Studios

Sushi Ben is a frankly bonkers-looking upcoming VR game styled like a 3D manga. As the player character, you’ll work on saving a local sushi bar from financial ruin, all while exploring a colourful town, meeting new friends and encountering an array of wild environmental puzzles.

While the premise alone is enough to inspire intrigue, what is most appealing about Sushi Ben is its stylistic approach to VR. With creative challenges and an eye-popping art style, it looks like it’ll really push the medium forward in new ways.

Children of the Sun

Children of the Sun
Image: Devolver Digital

Children of the Sun is a surreal puzzle-shooter adventure with a compelling and strange aesthetic, and a cool story revolving around cults, and a woman on a path of revenge. In an early preview of the game, Steph Panecasio, GamesHub Managing Editor, called it a “lethal and mechanically fascinating revenge shooter” with plenty going for it.

GamesHub’s preview slice of Children of the Sun was a feast of unconventional sniper mechanics and strikingly atmospheric vibes which unlocked competitive parts of my brain that I wasn’t anticipating,” Panecasio said. Its demo gives a taster of these cool, moreish vibes.


helskate game steam next fest
Image: Phantom Coast

Helskate is a nifty-looking skateboarding-combat sim where you grab a weapon and a skate deck, and head off to defeat strange monsters in frantic battles. It’s a neat little concept – one that’s elevated by a flashy pop art style that gives Helskate a real sense of personality.

The game is set to launch in early access in February 2024, with the demo giving a slice of the snappy action. Expect it to be fashionable, frenzied and wonderfully weird.

Tales of Kenzera: ZAU

tales of kenzera zau
Image: Surgent Studios

Tales of Kenzera: ZAU is a metroidvania that follows a young warrior on a path to reclaim his father’s soul. For developer Abubakar Salim, creating the game was a means to work through grief in a more creative, productive manner.

Read: Grief in full colour – An interview with Abubakar Salim for Tales of Kenzera: ZAU

“The more I think about it … the more I’m realising it’s almost a celebration of what I felt to my father and what it is to love someone who you have lost, rather than to put them in remembrance,” Salim recently told GamesHub of the title. “The game is full of colour and vibrancy, and it’s action-packed. It’s got all this kinetic movement and energy.” You can see a glimpse of that in the game’s new demo.

Duck Detective: The Secret Salami

duck detective game
Image: Happy Broccoli Games

You only need to look at the above screenshot to understand why Duck Detective: The Secret Salami is on the GamesHub list of the most anticipated games of the year. In this delightful adventure-mystery, you are the Duck Detective – a tiny, adorable duck on a mission to solve a variety of cases, while dealing with some personal issues.

The game’s demo promises tongue-in-cheek humour, very neat environmental puzzles and plenty of tiny adventures set against a Paper Mario-like backdrop. Keep this game on your radar.

You can browse the Steam Next Fest game demos from now until 10:00 am PT on 12 February 2024. Following the conclusion of the show, most demos will be taken down – so get in quick if you’re keen to check out any of these games.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.