Steam Next Fest demos 2023

15 demos to try before Steam Next Fest 2023 ends

Highlighting what’s good before it’s gone

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We are several days deep into the first Steam Next Fest of 2023. The event highlights upcoming games, and there’s been a bountiful slew of demos rolling out to show Steam users just what they can expect in the future.

There are also, frankly, a gazillion demos on the storefront for Steam Next Fest. And while some of Valve’s tools and algorithms can be effective for finding what you’re looking for, you may also want to stumble into something you’re not looking for. Games on the periphery, those that can surprise us, can sometimes wind up our favorites by year’s end.

With that in mind, we’ve assembled a list of demos worth checking out before Steam Next Fest wraps up. Throughout the week, we’ve had our writers tackling longer impressions from demos that caught their eye, and we’ll note those here, as well as some other games I’ve personally added to my watchlist. The event runs from February 6 through 13, so if you’re tuning in this weekend for a demo-spree or two, here’s a good list to get you started.

Radio the Universe

This eerie top-down action game may feel familiar, but Radio the Universe twists on just about everything you’d expect from the genre, from platforming and action to its presentation. Thanks to both style and substance, the long-awaited Radio the Universe has quickly become a standout demo of Steam Next Fest. Check out some longer thoughts and impressions here.

Cavern of Dreams Header
Image via Bynine Studios

Cavern of Dreams

Do you wish to return to the age of Nintendo 64 platforming glory? Is everything else trying to take you there not hitting right? Well, maybe the Cavern of Dreams can help. As Zoey puts it in our writeup, “Cavern of Dreams is a pleasant experience that does a great job of harkening back to the better experiences on the N64.” You can’t ever truly go home again, but you can visit the Cavern of Dreams and picture a different home, with fewer polygons and more collectibles.

Screenshot by Destructoid


Those looking for a Metroidvania with a little more style will probably find what they’re looking for in Afterimage. While our writeup noted some enemies that feel a bit too sponge-y, the style and vibe of Afterimage permeates through every screenshot. A good-looking Metroidvania with some cool and challenging enemies? I have a good feeling this could be a Steam Deck hit.

Screenshot by Destructoid

Mr. Saitou

Look, I’ll level with you. Mr. Saitou is about llamaworms. Part llama, part worm. It’s got a lot of heart, some good writing, and a snappy soundtrack. From those details alone, I think you know if you’re in or out. But if you need anymore convincing, you can check out some longer thoughts on both Mr. Saitou and its in-universe compatriot Rakuen in our demo impressions here.

Super 56 Butt-shot
Screenshot by Destructoid

Super 56

Why not keep the odd-train rolling with Super 56, the wild micro-game collection from Onion Soup Interactive that mixes simple button inputs with increasingly complex and bizarre tasks. It’s the sort of game where driving a go-kart can immediately pivot into launching arrows into apples (or butts), and that’s just the vibe. It’s a good one, too. Check out more in our writeup here.

Image via ColePowered Games

Shadows of Doubt

Have you ever wondered if you could solve a mystery? Not one that’s box and prepared for you, or presented in a neat procedural fashion, but a genuine whodunnit. Shadows of Doubt forced me to confront that question with how incredibly, and intimidatingly, open its world is. It’s a go-anywhere, find-it-yourself kind of detective sim that pushed me to make connections and uncover plots bit-by-bit. If you like red strings and thumb tacks, this might be up your alley.

Mail Time Gliding
Screenshot by Destructoid

Mail Time

Sometimes, the pressures of the real world can be a bit much. Taxes, drama, and the neverending barrage of social media can build up. Sometimes, you just wanna be a lil’ guy. Well, Mail Time is all about being a lil’ guy. You can read more about its cozy charm here, and why sometimes it’s just nice to be a wee courier in the woods.

Image via Red Hook Studios

Darkest Dungeon II

The first Darkest Dungeon made a big impact with its mix of roguelike runs and grim terror. Darkest Dungeon II takes it on the road, with a rickety carriage ride through eldritch horror and abomination country. It’s been in Early Access for a while now on Epic, but Steam Next Fest will let those platform users check out a slice before the 1.0 launch in May.


It’s basketball, by way of block-based robots. Robodunk‘s unequivocally rad pitch highlights its unique charm and draw, mixing childlike wonder with the arcade-style approach to sports and a Rogue Legacy twist. Of the many demos in the Steam Next Fest, Robodunk ponders the question, “would you like to see this robot dunk?” The only acceptable answer is yes, and you can read all about why it’s good in our writeup here.

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Image via Devolver Digital

Bleak Sword DX

The latest from more8bit and Devolver Digital mixes the classic with the new. It looks like an old game, but Bleak Sword DX handles more like Tunic or other modern action games, as you fight the evils of the night and roll around its world. With a Jim Guthrie soundtrack on deck, this is probably worth checking out.

Plan B Terraform
Image via Gaddy Games

Plan B: Terraform

Look, I’ll level with you: I had to stop playing the demo for Plan B: Terraform. I had to step away, because it ate away at my time in ways I absolutely was not expecting it to. Plan B falls into the same territory as Factorio or Dyson Sphere Program, but it’s sleek and straightforward. You just mine, harvest, and create. It’s not overly punishing, and there are no enemies to contend with in the demo. Just many, many rocks to harvest and systems to perfect, as you slowly but surely reform this planet into a humming titan of resource-retrieval. If that appeals to you, it’s worth checking out.

Image via Ishtar Games\

Lakeburg Legacies

The eye-catching art style of Lakeburg Legacies is reason enough to give the demo a shot. Beneath the look of it, though, there is an undercurrent of systems that sends me into a Sims-like fervor of assigning, managing, and matchmaking villagers. You’re not quite playing god, but you are definitely weaving and navigating the threads of lives in this village, helping them raise farms and start families, in a style that’s sure to appeal to the social life-sim fans.

Image via sunset visitor


This is one of the games on my list to play this weekend, but it’s one of the demos I’m anxious to play this Steam Next Fest weekend. 1000xRESIST follows your life as a clone, dealing with a shattered history and trying to piece together what you can. It’s published by Fellow Traveller, which has been pushing some great story games for a while now, and this looks like another potential hit. I probably won’t play too far in, to avoid spoiling myself on the full experience, but I’m eager to see what developer Sunset Visitor is creating with 1000xRESIST.

Image via Excellent Rectangle

Tape to Tape

There are some days you think you’ve seen everything games could have to offer. And then Tape to Tape, a roguelite sports game that answers the question “what if Hades played hockey” shows up. Sports fans will definitely want to put aside time to see this, especially if you’re tired of annual franchise installments. Tape to Tape seems like a solid hockey game, with a really intriguing X-factor in its roguelite set-up.

Image via Wishfully

Planet of Lana

The side-scrolling platformer-adventure Planet of Lana has appeared at several different streams and showcases. Now, it’s finally playable in the comfort of your own home via Steam Next Fest. Check out our demo impressions here to read more about how Planet of Lana plays out in demo form, and how it mixes its art with some tense puzzles and platforming.

There are many more, too many more, demos for us to possibly list here. Be sure and shout out any favorites you’ve found in the comments below! The February 2023 Steam Next Fest concludes on Feb. 13, 2023.

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Image of Eric Van Allen
Eric Van Allen
Senior Editor - While Eric's been writing about games since 2014, he's been playing them for a lot longer. Usually found grinding RPG battles, digging into an indie gem, or hanging out around the Limsa Aethryte.