9 Demos You Should Check Out During Steam Next Fest

Steam Next Fest is now live, with an array of game demos playable until 16 October.
solium infernum league of geeks gameplay strategy

Steam Next Fest has returned for another season, with the latest celebrations now live until 16 October 2023. As in past iterations of the long-running event, this Steam Next Fest houses an array of gorgeous-looking game demos charting every corner of the globe. There are a bunch of Australian games included in the showcase – including League of Geeks’ Solium Infernum – alongside new looks at upcoming blockbusters like Ghostrunner 2, and Pioneers of Pagonia.

From haunting supernatural tales to high-octane cyberpunk fighters, here’s every game demo we’d recommend checking out during the Steam Next Fest for October 2023.

Solium Infernum

solium infernum league of geeks steam next fest
Screenshot: League of Geeks

Solium Infernum is a hell-themed strategy game where you must deploy armies in turn-based battles, in an effort to claim the Infernal Throne. As you carve a path through the darkness, you’ll earn the loyalties of demons and other foes, thwart schemes for your crown, and eventually, conquer all.

This is a reimagining of the grand strategy game of the same name, brought to life with new detail by Australian studio, League of Geeks – most known for its work on the excellent Armello. The game’s Steam Next Fest demo provides a hefty look at the action, with plenty of hellfire and chaotic emergent stories along the way.

Ghostrunner 2

ghostrunner 2 game
Image: One More Level

In Ghostrunner 2, you are a sleek stealth fighter running through a cyberpunk world dominated by a mysterious tyrant with an army of fiendish foes. To fight for the freedom of your world, you’ll need to harness high-speed combat abilities, and a fetching parkour system that enables you to fling yourself around neon-drenched landscapes with gusto.

The original Ghostrunner made waves when it launched in 2020, for its fluidity and sense of style. Its sequel looks set to build on this foundation, with the demo showing off high-octane brawls, and plenty of bloody battles.

Pioneers of Pagonia

pioneers of pagonia steam next fest
Image: Envision Entertainment

Pioneers of Pagonia is an upcoming city builder game with intriguing origins – it’s coming from the creator of the original, beloved iterations of The Settlers, Volker Wertich. From an aesthetic perspective, the game largely resembles The Settlers, too – although with a modern sensibility.

In the game, you control an array of friendly citizens as they build up a thriving town, expanding their reach, forging armies, and eventually heading off to war (or building alliances, depending on your bloodthirstiness). The demo gives a taste of this power, and hints at distinct Settlers roots.

The Last Faith

the last faith steam next fest demos
Image: Kumi Souls Games

The Last Faith is an upcoming, self-proclaimed “Metroidvania and Souls-like” that takes place in a dark, gothic world of horrific monsters. You are a Belmont-like warrior carving a path through various dungeons, castles, and forests filled with monsters of all kinds. Sword in hand, you’ll fight through unique locales, wielding magic powers of your own, to thwart your enemies.

The action plays out together with pixel art charm, and while you’ll have to contend with plenty of hardship in your quest, described as a non-linear journey and a “race against time”, the beauty of The Last Faith makes the entire adventure seem rewarding and worthwhile.

Laika: Aged Through Blood

laika aged through blood steam next fest
Image: Brainwash Gang

Laika: Aged Through Blood is a gorgeous-looking post-apocalyptic adventure starring a mother coyote forging her way through a harsh and dangerous world. Beyond its unique premise, it’s the art style of Laika that makes it so fetching. With clean lines, bright colours, and sleek animation, it resembles a vivid, dynamic cartoon.

But with a dark subject matter, and themes of vengeance and survival, its journey and action feel particularly special. Couple that with sweet bullet-time gameplay, and painterly environs, and you’ve got a compelling recipe for success.

The Talos Principle 2

the talos principle 2
Image: Croteam

The Talos Principle 2 follows on from its award-winning predecessor, a puzzle game filled with complex challenges and a moving, philosophical story. With a similar aesthetic and a fresh batch of puzzles, this sequel should extend the intrigue of the original game, with thought-provoking secrets hiding behind rock faces and odd structures.

In this adventure, you’ll explore a strange new world where humanity has gone extinct, and solve the nature of this disappearance – as well as what it means to live in an empty world. While the demo gives the barest taste of this exploration, the questions it asks will linger long in the mind.


Jusant Preview - Key Art
Image: Don’t Nod

Jusant is a gorgeous climbing game from Don’t Nod, a developer with a proclivity for unique narratives – and while the game is largely focussed on the mindfulness of climbing mountains, its overarching feeling of peace is what most shines through as you travel through gorgeous locales, relying on your own strength.

In the GamesHub preview for Jusant, we remarked on its sense of awe and challenge, and how completing each climbing puzzles brings a warm sense of reward. “Jusant’s excellent climbing system, together with satisfying puzzles, a saturated aesthetic, wordless storytelling, and a minimalist score makes for a wonderful concoction,” Edmond Tran wrote. “It’s immediately compelling, and I’m very eager to discover what’s at the peak of its mountain.”

Paper Trail

paper trail steam next fest
Image: Newfangled Games

Paper Trail is a colourful puzzle adventure where you must guide a young girl through various locales – with a very special twist. Every move the girl makes depends on a literal paper trail. You must fold her world in paper-like ways to create new paths forward, with each fold revealing new structures, or hidden secrets.

There’s a hint of Gorogoa in this adventure, but it feels uniquely its own thing, with each paper fold requiring deep thought and analysis before a solution arises. The demo for this game shows off just a small hint of the action, but you’ll likely be thinking about your time spent playing, long after it’s over.

Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley

Image: Hyper Games

If you’re in the mood for more cosy adventures, then Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley is well worth checking out during Steam Next Fest. This papercraft-style game is set in the famous world of The Moomins, where peace and happiness is key to everyday life.

You venture into this world as Snufkin, who is tasked with restoring peace to the entirety of Moominvalley, after strange events corrupt the land’s natural balance. To complete your quest, you’ll venture far and wide, befriending creatures, and bringing the magic of music to new ears. Beyond a delightful plot, the demo shows off a wonderfully illustrated world, and one that’s a pure joy to travel through.

Steam Next Fest is now live. If any of these game demos catch your eye, it’s best to check them out before they disappear on 16 October 2023.

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.