The Steam Next Fest has proven to be a surprisingly great idea on Valve’s part, as evident in the past few installments. Steam wishlists have skyrocketed for some of those smaller developers, garnering massive exposure for their passion projects. It benefits players heavily as well, opening more players up to games they would’ve never seen otherwise. I have found a few games that have made a home in my wishlist, including one I reviewed positively for The Nerd Stash! While you go through your last-minute searches as the event comes to a close, you may find yourself having a tough time choosing what to try next. Well, allow me to help you with that. Here’s a nice helping of demos you should play before the end of February 2022’s Steam Next Fest!
1. Neon White
Coming straight from an incredibly talented team, including the creator of the hilarious puzzle game Donut County, Neon White melds together fast-paced FPS action and a romance visual novel of sorts to create this unique blend that works unexpectedly well. Released in a time-trial style format, Neon White sees the titular White take on ten days worth of challenges as he tries to gain his spot in heaven against the other Neons, all vying for the same prize. Oh, and he has a history with just a few of the Neons. Neon White is set to debut early this year, and even has a Nintendo Switch version planned for around the same time!
As someone who’s been playing quite a bit of SNKRX recently, and has seen endless amounts of Vampire Survivors, Mechanibot scratches that particular itch while offering up even more tactical play to stir the pot. In Mechanibot, you play as an adorable little droid using a series of robots to take down many waves of enemies, with the end goal of retaking the sun. While the idea of an auto-battler may seem a tad on the boring side, Mechanibot makes quite the challenge in the way you position your robots and create synergies based on each robot’s classes. It’s a ton of fun and should be a February 2022 Steam Next Fest demo you keep on your radar. Mechanibot is set to debut at some point later this year.
3. Forward: Escape the Fold
Drawing inspiration from roguelike card greats such as Inscryption and Slay the Spire, Forward: Escape the Fold sees you progress along a lengthy board of cards that offer a series of both boons and negative effects depending on your choices. While that may come across as purely black and white, the choices between which of the positives and negatives you wish to carry on is a compelling one in many respects. Needless to say, if you’re a fan of single-player card games, this is one more than worth your time. Unlike the other games on this list, Forward: Escape the Fold has a finite release date of March 29.
4. Bullet Runner
While several DOOM-styled games such as 3D Realms’ Scathe proved to be a ton of fun, no DOOM-like stood out quite as well as Bullet Runner. This top-down shooter follows a crudely hilarious protagonist as he stops at nothing to spray the blood of his enemies all over the pixelated floor. Including some borrowed mechanics of its contemporaries, while introducing various movement mechanics, Bullet Runner can be great for the crowd like me who love the modern DOOM games but want more without simply replaying the legends themselves. Bullet Runner doesn’t currently have a release window set but should be one you keep a close eye on.
5. The Unliving
Moving to one of the more surprisingly nostalgic demos of February 2022’s Steam Next Fest, The Unliving adapts the mechanics of the classic Overlord games into a digestible pixel roguelike format. As a Necromancer unfamiliar with his past due to an act of amnesia, you create hordes, slaughter your foes, and create even bigger hordes in your quest for total and utter undead domination. There’s even a bit of micromanaging thrown in, letting you use various types of units to either buff your armies or simply act as a walking time bomb. As listed on the game’s Steam page, The Unliving is set to debut during the first half of 2022 in Early Access.
6. The Wandering Village
The Wandering Village offers up a fairly strange twist to the classic city builder formula we’ve all come to know at love. On the surface, this seems like your standard city building game with a wide range of buildings and upgrades combined with a clean hand-drawn style to boot. The catch is that your city is located entirely on the back of a giant creature, which heads on an endless trek through both nice and harsh climates. With a wide range of tools to help in this matter and plenty of customization, city-building fans are sure to have a blast. The Wandering Village is currently penned for an early access launch in the Spring or Summer of this year.
7. Turbo Overkill
Have you played several retro-styled first-person shooters in the past and wondered if there was truly enough craziness? Well, the team at Trigger Happy Interactive sure did and turned that thought into an entire game. Turbo Overkill follows the bombastic Johnny Turbo, cleaning up the city with one bullet and one slide at a time. Choosing to revel in its excess rather than keep things tame, you’ll do everything from slaughtering a crowd while sliding through a group of enemies to firing off grenades from your sawed-off shotgun. It’s a bonkers experience in every sense of the word and is worth the time of anyone who enjoys a satisfying fast-paced shooter. Turbo Overkill currently has no date set to debut, though given its current state, we may be seeing it sooner rather than later. Or at least, I can dream.
8. My Friendly Neighborhood
It seems that Five Night’s at Freddy’s inadvertently kicked off this “kid’s cartoons turned horror show” theme that we’ve seen in horror, and while most haven’t properly used the idea, My Friendly Neighborhood is not one of those games. Reports have come in that the puppets of the Saturday morning puppet show Our Friendly Neighborhood has gone awry, and it’s up to you as Gordon to figure out exactly what’s going down in this giant facility. Oh, and there’s a Resident Evil style grid inventory for those who love their nostalgia. This Sesame Street-style horror adventure currently has no release window, but needless to say, I’ll be keeping a close eye on it.
Similar to my interest in The Wandering Village, I was pleasantly surprised to quickly fall in love with No More Robots’ TombStar. This Wild West-themed twin-stick shooter sees you take on the Grimheart Gang as the galaxy’s greatest cowboys, armed with nothing more than their strong wits and a wide array of weapons. Add the fact that this whole experience is a roguelike, featuring more perks than you’d know what to do with, and you have a great game well worth your time. TombStar is galloping quickly towards its Early 2022 release date, so the demo will be a perfect chance to get ready.
10. Warstride Challenges
Last but not least is a love letter to those who love speedrunning as much as they love guns. Warstride Challenges offers up a fairly simple premise, with the goal of completing each map as quickly as possible. But when you toss in endless abilities such as bunnyhopping, sliding, forward blasts, and a set of weapons, the opportunities to score speedrun world records are a possibility for anyone. That’s not even including the fact that there are plenty of places to do it, as the full release promises around 180 challenges for you to complete. Warstride Challenges is lined up for an Early 2022 launch and is an ideal demo to play from the Steam Next Fest of February 2022.
I’d like to hear from you. Which Steam Next Fest demos were your favorite? Anything from this list? Let me know!