Steam Next Fest is back with more demos from all corners of gaming. From February 5-12, players can download demos of the most anticipated releases and try them out.
It can get a bit overwhelming with so many choices, and that’s why we’re going to show you the top 10 best Steam Next Fest demos you need to download.
Our list is in no specific order and aims to capture games across all different genres. Furthermore, we’ll cover what the demo entails, as well as the overarching aspects of the game. Let’s get started with our first game on the list.
#1 — Pacific Drive
The first game on the list is, coincidentally, the first game I tried out when viewing all the new demos. Pacific Drive, from developer Ironwood Studios, is an action survival game that was originally revealed at the Sony State of Play back in September of 2022.
Since then, it has become a game to look out for, and we finally get a taste of what to expect. The game places you in an alternate world where parts of America have been altered by supernatural beings. You find yourself sucked into this unnerving yet intriguing world, and it’s up to you to help those stuck inside.
Related: 8 best survival games in 2024
The demo shows players the opening of the game’s story, helping them get a feel for the gameplay aspects of Pacific Drive. Your job is to drive around collecting resources, crafting new gear to not only outfit your car but eventually find a way out. It’s an interesting premise story-wise, and I found the gameplay to be a bit like Outer Wilds. Where you don’t know what you’ll find and yet you have an undeniable pull to explore and investigate. Make sure to keep an eye out when Pacific Drive releases on PS5 and Steam on February 22nd, 2024.
#2 — Lightyear Frontier
Next up on the list is a multiplayer survival game, Lightyear Frontier, from developer FRAMEBREAK. A game that looks like you were thrown onto a planet from No Man’s Sky with the Prawn Suits from Subnautica. However, the mech you use in Lightyear Frontier is much more versatile, allowing you to change traversal methods, and equip a myriad of tools. It’s a very laidback and enjoyable game, where you and up to 3 other players can build their home, meet alien creatures, and tend to a variety of different crops.
Lightyear Frontier was originally announced back in 2021, and since then the developers have shown off updates throughout the years. The demo lets players try out the varying mechanics of the mech, and explore some of the vast open world. Lightyear Frontier is slated to release into Early Access on Xbox consoles and Steam, March 19, 2024. And players shouldn’t have to wait long for updates, as developers FRAME BREAK already have a roadmap for the game.
#3 — Dungeonborne
Coming to #3 on our list, we have the PvEvP fantasy extraction game Dungeonborne from developer Mithril Interactive. Fans of similar titles might recognize its similarities to Dark and Darker, another extraction game with a fantasy/medieval setting. If you’ve never played Dark and Darker, Dungeonborne is a game all about treasure. You must journey into the darkest dungeons, defeating skeletons, floating eyeballs, and other players. All the while, you’ll collect better gear and treasure, before finding a portal and leaving the dungeon.
However, what makes Dungeonborne stand apart from other titles, is due to the fact that there is more to the game than the extraction gameplay. Players can compete in competitive 3v3 arena battles, where you and your team must fight to the death.
There are 7 classes players can test out in the demo, but sadly none of your gear or progress will transfer over to the full release. However, until the end of Next Fest, players are free to explore the dungeon alone or with friends. And with so many combinations of stats to build around, combined with the trading system, you could spend a while trying to find the best loadout. Dungeonborne currently doesn’t have a release date, so be sure to check out their Discord for the latest updates and playtests.
#4 — Pepper Grinder
Taking a look at a different kind of game, we’ve got Pepper Grinder from Ahr Ech. You play as Pepper, and with her trusty grinder, you must reclaim the treasure that was stolen from you. Pepper Grinder is a single-player 2D platformer, reminiscent of games such as Rayman Legends and a bit of Noita’s environment uses. Well, more like if Noita was a bit more tactical with its destructible environment. That’s because, in Pepper Grinder, you have to utilize the grinder to traverse through sections of the earth.
This might mean diving under a rock or using your grinder to bounce from earth pockets on the wall in order to climb higher. The demo takes you through the beginning levels of Mole Hills, seemingly the Pepper Grinder’s first world area. There’s a sticker book you can customize with stickers you buy in the shop. Furthermore, once you’ve completed the levels in the demo, you can replay them in a Time Attack mode to earn even more rewards. Pepper Grinder is expected to be released in 2024, but you can check out the official Discord for the latest news and updates.
#5 — Stormgate
For those Starcraft fans out there, you’ll want to check out the demo for Stormgate from developer Frost Giant Studios. Developers comprised of talent from Starcraft 2 to Warcraft 3, Stormgate looks to be a true next-gen RTS game. The demo on Steam Next Fest allows players to test out two of the three officially confirmed factions in the game. What’s more, you can invite up to 2 friends and try out the 3P Co-op vs. AI mode, along with competitive 1v1 matches.
Developed on Unreal Engine 5, Stormgate plans to have a story constantly being updated with new missions and story content for players to enjoy. And with voice acting from celebrity Simu Liu, there are no expenses spared on the story. Every campaign mission can be played cooperatively, and you can even create your own custom missions and games within the in-game editor. Developers plan to release the game free-to-play, however, a release date hasn’t been confirmed. Until then check out their Discord to get notified when the latest playtests occur.
#6 — Soulmask
For those of you who tried out Palworld and can’t put it down, then you’ll want to try out the demo for Soulmask by developer CampFire Studio. An MMO-esque survival game, Soulmask puts you in the shoes of a person escaping a ritual sacrifice. A sacrifice that you were about to be the victim of. Upon escaping, you come into contact with a mysterious mask. A mask that binds itself to you, enhancing your abilities and power. It’s up to you to uncover its secrets, but you’ll find a lot more along the way.
The demo lets you play the game for 40 hours, and during that time, you’re pretty much free to do as you please. The main bread and butter of the game lies within the mask you find. This one, along with many others you can find will unlock your true potential.
Throughout your journey, you’ll find tribesmen that you can bring to your base. These tribesmen provide a myriad of skills, such as farming, crafting, and more. With a variety of tribesmen to find, it’ll be up to you to get the best people for the job.
Furthermore, each one provides a different playstyle, theoretically making each one viable in certain situations. You can venture on this journey alone, or join a server with up to 70 people. According to the Steam page, Soulmask will release sometime in 2024. Until then, check out their Discord server for news on the game’s release.
#7 — Ziggy’s Labyrinth
Taking a sharp left turn with our snake, we’re taking a look at Ziggy’s Labyrinth by developer Lankyware. Ziggy’s Labyrinth is a new perspective on the long-time classic game, Snake. In normal mode, your goal is to eat all the apples before exiting through a door. But this is not the Snake game of yesteryear.
The game’s main appeal is the extraordinary way levels are designed. Not only that, but some of the apples you eat imbue you with powers. For example, a purple apple will allow you to teleport the front of your snake wherever you place your mouse cursor and left-click. Ghostly apples, on the other hand, turn you invisible for a short amount of time when you hold right-click.
The demo provides players a chance to try out 12 normal levels in 1 part of the demo, and 15 in another. What’s more, players can even try their hand at making their own level with the level editor.
You must use these abilities to collect apples throughout levels, all while making sure you don’t run into yourself. And for you competitive players, there is even an online arena mode where you must try to outlast your opponent. Ziggy’s Labyrinth comes out March 2024, and you can check out their Discord for more news and new content coming to the game.
#8 — CYGNI: All Guns Blazing
Blasting out next on the list is a game called CYGNI: All Guns Blazing from developer KeelWorks. Originally slated for a 2023 release, this bullet-hell/shoot-em-up got delayed to 2024 and is now featured in the Steam Next Fest. You take control of a pilot, hoping to help save the human race from total annihilation by a biomechanical alien race. And for a day and age where games like Ikaruga are a thing of the past, this game was a wonderful surprise for me.
In the demo, you’ll be able to try out the game’s first level, equipped with one mini-boss and two boss battles. Players get a chance to try out the game’s combat, where you must swap between shield and weapon systems on the fly. Once you load into the game, you’ll also realize just how visually stunning it looks. From beautiful cutscenes to in-game explosions that look astounding, there’s no shortage of beautiful visuals.
By defeating enemies, players will build up energy you can then use to execute massive damage-dealing attacks. With CYGNI’s delay still fresh, the game is simply stated to be “coming soon.” But in the meantime, you should check out their official Discord for more news and info.
#9 — INDIKA
For those horror lovers out there, you’ll absolutely want to check out INDIKA from developer Odd Meter. Taking place in an alternate 19th-century Russia, you play as Indika, a nun. She has recently joined a monastery to further her religious life, and we soon find she’s not your normal nun. She has a connection with the Devil and regularly speaks to him about her life and certain endeavors. This quickly bubbles to the surface, and you’re thrown into a world of oddities and even a bit of comedy.
INDIKA is a third-person story adventure game, akin to games like The Medium. The demo lets players try out the beginnings of the game, showcasing the first five areas you encounter. You’ll travel from the Road to the Village, exploring the Barn, before traversing Under the Mill and then finally ending inside the Mill.
INDIKA is slated to release Q1 2024 for Xbox series X/S, PS5, and PC. For more info on the game, take a look at the official Discord for publisher 11 bit studios.
#10 — Star Trucker
Last but not least is the spacefaring delivery adventure, Star Trucker from developer Monster and Monster. Star Trucker is a perfect combination of a game like Euro Truck Simulator, and delivery missions from games like Star Citizen and Elite Dangerous. Your job is to haul cargo from one end of the galaxy to another. Players can upgrade their space truck, allowing for new parts of space to be explored.
Star Truckers is the ultimate space delivery experience, complete with a CB radio, managing your truck, and even sneaking some illegal goods around the police. The Steam Next Fest demo provides you with a few deliveries you can test out, as well as a chance to see what it takes to repair and maintain your truck.
I personally have my eye on this one as it seems like the best way to end a long day. Hyperjumping from station to station making my deliveries the best they can be while jamming to the radio. What more could you need out of life?
Star Trucker comes out sometime in 2024, and players can check out their official website for more space trucking news.
Everything you need to know about Steam Next Fest
Not only does Steam Next Fest feature a plethora of demos for an entire week but there are even live streams from the developers of the games throughout the festival. By watching the live stream on Steam, Twitch, or YouTube and chatting, you can even ask said developers your burning questions about their upcoming release.
Finally, make sure to check out the entirety of the Steam Next Fest. There are a lot of amazing demos, so if these 10 piqued your interest, be sure to check out all the others. If you plan on purchasing some of these games when they launch, your PC might need a hardware upgrade. So if you’re looking at grabbing a new GPU, make sure to check out our Nvidia RTX 4080 Super summary.