Steam Next Fest is basically E3 for indie PC gaming. But unlike other events, it’s online and everyone is invited.
It’s one of the biggest digital gaming conventions of the year, with a constant schedule of streams and demos available between October 3 and 10. Thousands of indie and AA games are on display, from turn-based RPGs to platformers. With so many games to choose from, it can be difficult to figure out what to check out. To help you get started, here’s a quick list of excellent demos we’ve played that we know are worth your time. Make sure to catch them before the event ends on October 10.
- Developer: Doinksoft
- Publisher: Devolver Digital
Gunbrella is about exactly what you’d expect: a weapon that’s both a gun and an umbrella. The titular item sets the movement in this game apart from other side-scrolling platformers, using the umbrella for platforming and shielding and the gun part for … well, killing things. That’s not to mention that the world itself has a mysterious story involving local cults, corporations, and a man’s quest for revenge. Developer Doinksoft calls it a “noir-punk” adventure about a rogue lumberjack and his encounters with strangers, from corporate grunts to cultists. If you want a more in-depth preview, Digital Trends wrote about what makes Gunbrella special ahead of Steam Next Fest.
Gunbrella is currently in development for PC and Nintendo Switch. You can play the demo now on Steam.
- Developer: Outerloop Games
- Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Thirsty Suitors is publisher Annapurna Interactive’s latest character-driven indie game. Jala returns home to attend her sister’s wedding, unaware that it would somehow involve battling her evil exes (much like Scott Pilgrim) and teaming up with strange suitors in a magical adventure. On a more thematic level, it’s about a young woman navigating her love life in nontraditional ways. Expect turn-based RPG madness and plenty of “awkward flirting.” Digital Trends previewed Thirsty Suitors earlier this summer at Tribeca Fest. At the time, we compared it to Psychonauts 2 and praised how the awkward, yet relatable encounters separated it from your typical turn-based stereotype.
Thirsty Suitors is currently in development for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Nintendo Switch. You can play the demo now on Steam.
- Developer: Arrow Wiz
- Publisher: Prime Matter
Mato Anomalies takes place in a setting that resembles a gritty, futuristic Chinatown. Detective Doe is sent by his employer, Madame Nightshade, to investigate shady business at the docks of Mato when he accidentally ventures into another dimension. Gram, who frequents these dimensions called “Anomalies,” forms a partnership to help with Doe’s investigation and the rest is history.
There are a few moving parts to the gameplay, including the turn-based combat that involves managing a stamina bar and waiting a set number of turns to charge up your strongest moves. You reportedly fight in a team, but the demo only has Bane on display so far. There’s also a strategy card game that “mindhacks” participants into revealing their secrets.
Mato Anomalies is currently in development for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Nintendo Switch. You can play the demo now on Steam.
- Developer: Voracious Games
- Publisher: XSEED Games
Potionomics mixes deck building and resource management into a cute alchemy simulator. In the game, Sylvia comes to Rafta to take over her grandfather’s potion shop. Unfortunately, it is in worse shape than she realized. It’s the equivalent of inheriting your grandfather’s run-down farm in Harvest Moon. She has to rebuild the shop, from tidying the counters to buying new equipment, as she gets to know the locals. She can’t do it without help, of course. It’s going to take some hard bargaining and friend-making to source ingredients and sell potions to customers. If you do it right, you might even get a decent relationship and friendly discounts out of the deal.
Potionomics launches for PC on October 17, 2022. You can play the demo now on Steam.
- Developer: Vadzim Liakhovich
- Publisher: RedDeer Games
Sprout Valley is a solo project by Polish indie developer Vazddim Liakhovich that started on Kickstarter. Think Animal Crossing meets Stardew Valley. Our feline protagonist, Nico, grew up in the big city of Lemontop, but always dreamed of owning a farm. Thanks to Ozlo, a penguin trying to sell his family farm, that’s now possible. Sprout Valley involves a mix of farming sim and Animal Crossing-like activities, from fishing to mining and selling products. It has just about any activity you’d expect from a farming sim, but at an accelerated pace, so you can get the same satisfaction with quicker progress. Just don’t expect it to be any less of a grind!
Sprout Valley is currently in development for PC, Linux, and macOS. You can play the demo now on Steam.
- Developer: Bytten Studio
- Publisher: Raw Fury
Cassette Beasts is the latest monster-taming indie sensation to hit Steam. Welcome to New Wirral, a mysterious island where people from different worlds have been trapped. Just as you’re about to be attacked by a strange monster, a ranger named Kaleigh steps in and throws you a cassette player. It isn’t for sick tunes, though. It transforms you into one of the titular Cassette Beasts.
Cassette Beasts quickly pulls you into an eerie tale about why you and the other visitors are stranded in Harborville and what these unique monsters called “Archangels” have to do with it. As a plus, it differs from the standard monster-taming formula in the sense that your cassette player transforms you into a beast. It also allows you to fuse monsters like in Shin Megami Tensei, rather than evolve them.
Cassette Beasts is currently in development for PC, Linux, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Nintendo Switch. You can play the demo now on Steam.