There are literally over 1000 upcoming games you can try during Steam Next Fest. But how can you choose which ones to try, let alone pre-order ahead of their releases?
I can’t say I’ve played them all, or even most (I wish!), I can say there are a select few out of the large batches that I have played that I can wholeheartedly recommend. So, here they are in no particular order and hopefully with some variety for different types of gamers.
I’ve compiled some gameplay and trailers from some of the games I played. So check those out as well to see them in action!
Think of Mega Man with more melee combat and a much faster pace. That’s what I felt Beserk Boy was channelling during my time with it.
The futuristic world is being overrun, and it’s up to you, the game’s hero, to use your abilities to save the day! Nothing we haven’t seen or heard before (at least within the demo), but that’s ok. The absolute joy here is the fast-paced, tight gameplay. The 2D action platformer brings a retro-inspired style to life with excellent level design and enemies. Dashing and bouncing off robotic baddies felt wild and crazy, but after a few encounters, I found myself in an enjoyable groove.
Beserk Boyis scheduled for release on March 6th. Check out the video above if you want to see some of the gameplay.
It’s time to be charmed!
I have to be honest; I initially downloaded this demo because it was themed around coffee. I love coffee. Coffee Caravan has you running your own, well… coffee caravan. Essentially a food truck for caffeine.
The outstanding art style feels like Playmobil characters interacting as they make and sip cups of joe. The gameplay loop is pretty simple and a breeze to play in the demo, with a decent promise of different roguelike “runs” on busier days and more testy customers.
The music and sound design are as charming and cute as the rest of the game. I can’t wait to brew up some more! Coffee Caravanis scheduled for a release in Q1 of 2024. You can see the gameplay I captured in the video above.
Doodle Adventure of Chameleon
Think Celeste, but with cute hand-drawn characters and world. Doodle Adventure of Chameleon brings a tight and colourful experience to life within a challenging 2D platforming package.
As the titular chameleon, you’ll traverse around spikes and pits, jump off walls, and collect apples along the way (I got all 50… no big deal…I’m a pro gamer, apparently…). But the trick here is the different coloured platforms and obstacles you’ll need to navigate.
You can change from red, blue, or yellow to a chameleon. Each colour also changes the corresponding spikes and blocks you must jump from or avoid. With quick face button maneuvering, the little paper-crafted character will be off to the races! It’s a great idea that works smoothly, and the game has an incredible art style and a fantastic soundtrack.
Doodle Adventure of Chameleon is scheduled for release sometime in 2024.
Isometric action gamers often catch my eye. But mix in a stylized world that runs on robotics and music, and you’ve got my attention!
In 2023, Hi-Fi Rush was one of my favourite games. The rhythm gameplay loop was fun; the art and personality clicked with me. Beat Slayer takes a similar concept, pulling out the camera for a top-down view and encouraging music-based combos to dispatch enemies.
As the game’s hero, you’re off to save your brother. You’ll need to use your trusty axe, dash, and flashy abilities to take down whatever gets in your way. The roguelike elements also worked for me, as early runs were quick and heading back to base to upgrade was intuitive and fun.
The game has solid writing and is fully voice-acted, creating a set of characters and a world I want to be in.
Beat Slayeris hitting Steam on April 4th. You can check out some of the runs I recorded in the above video.
Children of the Sun
If you’re looking for a real trippy and cerebral experience draped in a violent puzzle game, this one’s for you.
Children of the Sunputs you in the shoes of a person hell-bent on revenge. With a sniper rifle and the ability to control a single bullet, you have to take one shot per stage and redirect your shot to take out each cult member per level.
In the few levels available in the demo, I found myself trying new ways of dispatching each stylized enemy. While there seem to be multiple ways to clear each stage, most of what was in the demo seemed to have one, maybe two solutions to each puzzle. It’s not bad, but I hope it opens up in the full release.
So far, Children of the Sunhas no confirmed release date. If you’re curious about the wild art style, music, sound effects, and gameplay, check out the video above from the Console Creatures YouTube page.
Always in Mind
This is a touching story told through deep memories and a sci-fi premise. Always in Mind’s demo allows you to explore the inner workings of a child’s mind to connect with this complicated and sometimes sad past.
The game plays like a 3D platformer as you collect and uncover secrets left behind by your deceased mother using an AI.
The game is fully voice-acted and conveys some emotional themes of a family’s history. It’s refreshing to see the title dig deeper into an unknown part of someone’s legacy and reflect on how you became who you are. The gameplay, at least for me, was a hit-and-miss experience.
It is fun to navigate playrooms, libraries, and cave systems from a different perspective, don’t get me wrong. But I think Always in Mind could shine with a few tweaks to the controls.
I still recommend checking it out; it is doing something unique, and I can see that the story and characters can offer a story worth telling.
SummerHouse is a perfect game to chill to. The voxel and pixelated presentation is beautiful, and the game is accompanied by a wonderfully calm soundtrack and atmospheric sound design.
As far as the gameplay goes, it’s a sandbox of design. With several categories of items, you can create a unique set of buildings (or just one if you prefer) along a calming waterfront. Grab a few foundational blocks and let loose! At first, it doesn’t seem possible, but a few minutes later, you may realize just how much is possible, like I did.
If you’re looking for a simpler, beautiful, and creative outlet in your game, SummerHouseis a great way to go.
It’s scheduled for release on March 8th, and you can see some of my time with the game in the video at the top of this article.
Avenliana is a stealth game with an isometric view that takes you through a world of forests and unique creatures.
Its pixelated presentation sways beautifully as you sneak past enemies in tall grass and collect “dust.” Diving into the demo, I did feel like there was a lot of world-building I may have missed, but with the release date right around the corner, I’m eager to explore what this game offers.
Despite its calming art and music, the game is not easy. Each area requires careful consideration, as I found a thoughtful approach is usually best. There is combat, but the demo had me realize that avoiding it is sometimes the best approach.
Aveliana is scheduled for release on February 23rd.