Steam Next Fest: 12 cool demos you should try out

Steam Next Fest 2022 demos roundup

If you’re looking to try something new, here are a few good options

The Steam Next Fest demo party is currently on, with many studios showcasing their upcoming games. From big to small, solo devs to publisher-backed projects, there’s a lot to explore.

I took a browse through the selection over the last day or so, and now I’m back with a list of some demos that seem worth checking out. Keep in mind: this is, by no means, an exhaustive list. There are a ton of demos to find, and if you’re looking to fill a specific need like “deck-building roguelike” or something, Steam’s tag system will get you there.

These are just the ones that caught my eye, and might catch yours too. Some I’ve even already played, as you’ll see in the writeup, at previous expos and demo fests. But with the selection here, there are plenty of cool upcoming games to try out.

Without further ado, let’s start with the spooky.

Metal: Hellsinger

Metal: Hellsinger

The rhythm-FPS genre is quickly filling up, but Metal: Hellsinger has been garnering some attention for its extremely metal approach. I imagine many people who played Doom (2016) found themselves entering a Zen state of chugging guitars and splattering demons, and Hellsinger is the meeting point of the two. It’s currently set to launch in full on Sept. 15, 2022.

Find the demo on Steam here.

Signalis

Signalis

Maybe arena shooters aren’t your thing. Maybe you prefer your nostalgic, retro-vibes games more in the vein of Resident Evil, with a twist of existential cosmic dread and cyber-horror. Well, Signalis has it in spades. It’s atmospheric, moody, utilizes shifts in perspective and audio pips extremely well, and is easily one of my most-anticipated indies headed into later 2022. And it’s slated just in time for Halloween, on Oct. 27, 2022.

Find the demo here.

Cult of the Lamb

Cult of the Lamb

Okay, so maybe dark-and-creepy is your vibe, but you want a splash of cute. Maybe some isometric roguelite action, and a surprisingly compelling base management system. You should head over to the Cult of the Lamb, Massive Monster’s adorably chaotic game about a cute lil’ lamb starting a cult. Slay the false prophets, reclaim the forest, and convert the critters to your belief system so they can work while you’re away. Cult of the Lamb arrives on Aug. 11, 2022.

You can find the demo here.

Gloomwood

Gloomwood

Okay, dark and grimy, but maybe a little more immersive sim. How about a survival horror game with a heavy heaping of the Thief series in Gloomwood? It’s set in a dark Victorian city where guards with bright, glowing eyes patrol. Plan your route, escape with stealth and ingenuity, and deploy all kinds of fun tools along the way. Just don’t get caught.

Find the demo here.

Escape Academy Steam Next Fest demo

Escape Academy

Okay, I get it. Let’s lighten the mood a bit, while sticking with the escape theme. Escape-the-room games have always been quite popular, but Escape Academy brings a little something extra to the table. It’s got a narrative twist, as you’re a new student at the titular school for escape artists, learning to get out of any sticky situation and meeting classmates and professors along the way. What I really dug about the demo, which is one of my favorites in the Next Fest lineup, is that it has online co-op. It was remarkably easy to hop into a room with a friend in another state and play through the demo together, and we had a blast. The release date is right around the corner on July 14, but I can’t recommend this demo enough for co-op folks looking to try something new.

Find the demo here.

Potion Permit

Potion Permit

Sometimes, you just want to hang out, hunt for some ingredients, and brew some potions. Potion Permit is one of the cozier games in the Steam Next Fest, and I really dug its small-town alchemist sim setup. It’s definitely one of the slower starts compared to other games on this list, but if you want to just hang out and brew some potions with your dog, who’s a very good boy, then Potion Permit seems up your alley.

Find the demo here.

Terra Nil

Terra Nil

This city builder that’s actually a nature builder has been top of my to-watch list for some time, and for good reason. Free Lives turns terraforming and restoring the scorched earth into an extremely pleasant experience. With each new installment and fixture, you get some gorgeous animations of grass flowing out across the soil, or water filling desolate canyons. Then, when it’s all said and done, you pack up and leave. Terra Nil is beautifully serene and definitely worth your time.

Find the demo here.

Anger Foot Steam Next Fest demo

Anger Foot

And now for something completely different from Free Lives, it’s Anger Foot. Jordan recently declared this might be Devolver’s most unhinged game yet, and after playing the demo, I’m inclined to agree. That’s not a bad thing, though. Anger Foot has powerful kicks and speedy runs through brutal, blistering chaos, but its bass-pumping, pulse-pounding pace can really put you in the zone. It’s fast and bizarre, and might be a bit much for some, but I have to admit I do love how the gators break it down after bringing you down.

Find the demo here.

Naiad Steam Next Fest demo

Naiad

Okay, wheel it back around. Let’s go back to the comforts of nature. Naiad is a gorgeous, almost dreamy game about being a river guardian and hanging out with your river pals. HiWarp has crafted some incredible visuals here, and it makes the whole experience wonderfully serene and flowing in a way that really sticks. Naiad was a Day of the Devs standout, and I’m happy to see it’s got a demo in the Next Fest.

Find the demo here.

Goodbye World

Goodbye World

Another Day of the Devs standout for me was Goodbye World, from solo developer Yo Fujii. It is a narrative adventure about the life of two indie developers, who struggle to make their hit game while juggling part-time jobs. Interspersed throughout, you actually get to play their game, a cute little puzzle platformer. It’s a great concept with wonderful art and huge potential for drama.

Find the demo here.

Frogun Steam Next Fest demo

Frogun

Another nostalgic surprise is Frogun, a throwback 3D platformer about a girl with a frog gun. This seems like it should be on the radar of anyone who dug the Nintendo 64 or PlayStation 1 era of platformers. But the bonus is now, with modern technology, we’ve got a frog-themed grappling gun. Molegato’s game seems both adorable and pretty interesting for platformer fans.

Check out the demo here.

WrestleQuest

WrestleQuest

I’m sorry, did you think I’d write a whole Steam Next Fest demo roundup and not include wrestling RPG WrestleQuest? I was pretty surprised and entertained by the demo I played at PAX East 2022. Mega Cat Studios is combining the world of wrestling with action figures and Super Mario RPG-style combat for something that, somehow, works. Works pretty darn well, actually. Pump up the hype and pin some fools (or be pinned, if need-be) in RPG fashion.

Find the demo here.


Those are all the games I’m keeping an eye on and checking out. But if you’ve got any cool demos you like from the Steam Next Fest, please shout them out in the comments! Summer showcases are always a landslide of info, but these demo fests are a really great opportunity to test the waters, expand horizons, and add some cool new indie projects to your Steam wishlist.

Eric Van Allen