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5 games you should play during the Steam Next Fest

Steam’s Next Fest is happening right now, and it’s one of the few opportunities (outside in-person events) where players can try out a ton of upcoming titles. In the usual fashion for Steam’s event, there’s a lot of stuff to play during the Next Fest — so much so that you may miss out on some of the best games available.

If you’re just looking to try some of the best games before the event ends at 10 a.m. PT on February 28, these are some demos you should absolutely try out. Perhaps you’ll even be able to play these on your Steam Deck soon enough.

Neon White

Running through a level in Neon White

Movement, speed, and precision are the main focuses of Neon White, a first-person shooter that manages to sneak resource management into its incredibly addictive gameplay loop. Tasked with clearing the demons out of heaven, players have to navigate winding levels using weapons that can be picked up as cards. As these weapons — things like pistols, semi-automatic rifles, and RPGs — are used, they slowly drain and eventually break.

Instead of firing weapons, players can also break cards and use their bonus powers. Breaking a pistol, for instance, grants a double jump. Discarding a semi-auto rifle gives players a massive dash that can break obstacles and kill demons. With both uses, running through a level of Neon White becomes a flurry of shots being fired, cards being discarded, and others taking their place.

Levels are fast-paced, and trying to finish them as quickly as possible, which the game rewards you for, is simply irresistible. There’s some downtime between levels, too, where players can talk to NPCs and redeem awards, but I don’t imagine I’ll want to break from the fast-paced action based on the demo.

Far: Changing Tides

Setting sail on a ramshackle ship in Far: Changing Tides.

I’m not a huge fan of puzzle games. When it comes to them, I can’t solve anything — I’m part of the reason why guide writers have valuable jobs. Far: Changing Tides is a puzzle game, but it’s already set itself apart with a wonderful sense of physicality.

In Far: Changing Tides, it’s not entirely clear what you have to do. The game’s demo starts abruptly, throwing players on top of a large, rickety boat. You have to figure out how it works yourself, manipulating the ruined environment around you to clear paths or repair your ship. Once you set sail and the game’s soundtrack kicks in, it feels like the beginning of a wonderful adventure.

Gorgeous to look at and endlessly interesting, I’m especially glad that Far: Changing Tides is set to come out on March 1.

The Wandering Village

A massive creature travels into a new biome in The Wandering Village.

I love a good colony sim, and The Wandering Village pretty much has everything I’m looking for in one. Like my favorite colony sim, Rimworld, The Wandering Village has players manage their resources, prioritize tasks for their colonists, and slowly build a bustling, self-sufficient village.

What sets The Wandering Village apart is what makes the village wander. The entire colony is situated on the back of a massive creature, called an Onbu, with which players end up having a somewhat symbiotic relationship. Players have to ensure the Onbu stays healthy, gets enough rest, and doesn’t go hungry. All the while, resources can be mined from it, like its blood or stone from deep in its body. Along with your colony, you’ll have to maintain your relationship with this creature, which just makes an already interesting simulator a bit deeper.

Ixion

A ship travels through slipspace in Ixion.

If you’ll recall, I described The Wandering Village as a simplified version of my favorite colony sim. Ixion is the opposite; a massive, complicated sim that already has me wowed with its sheer scale and systems.

In Ixion, players pilot a massive starship, one meant to be humanity’s next step as it abandons the Earth in favor of a future in Proxima Centauri. Like any other colony sims, players have to build structures, manage resources, and make sure their colonists are happy. What makes Ixion so interesting is the ship itself. It’s its own spaceship, one that can eventually be piloted around star systems as much as players want. If there’s a specific planet players like, for instance, they can park their ship right in its orbit and start harvesting materials. I don’t know what Ixion‘s endgame looks like — the game’s massive tech tree was imposing enough to look at — but I’m already hooked on its managerial gameplay loop.

Turbo Overkill

Using two magnums in Turbo Overkill.

While Neon White is about completing levels quickly with grace and elegance, Turbo Overkill is about killing as many enemies as possible with obscene weapons. This boomer shooter lives up to its name with incredibly fast-paced action that rivals Doom, and I feel like I’ve barely scratched its 32-bit surface.

Turbo Overkill starts off with players cleaving an enemy in two with a chainsaw built into their character’s right leg. That should tell you a lot about the game already. From there, players will unlock more weapons (the game starts you off with dual magnums), all of which have their own killer alt-fire modes. If the game has a story, I wasn’t paying attention. Tearing through hordes of grotesque, pixelated enemies with my weapons and chainsaw leg was simply too much fun.

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