Billed as a “celebration of upcoming games,” Steam Next Fest really does feel like an occasion, with freebies galore, developer broadcasts vying for your attention, and enticing games splashed across the Steam store each day. There’s no better time to try something new, but scouring the list for the best Steam Next Fest demos can be a hard task in itself. Luckily, we’ve done the work for you and compiled some of our favorites right here.
Steam Next Fest can be fairly overwhelming as you pore through the incredibly long list of hacking games, puzzle games, sports games, and more in search of the best upcoming PC games to try. Naturally, your favorites might depend on those genres you find the most compelling, but we’ve scoured as many as we can to find a bit of everything worth trying. They’re all free demos, so there’s really no reason not to, and who knows, you might find your next favorite game – just like we did.
The best Steam Next Fest games October 2023
The best Steam Next Fest demos to try out are:
- Forgive Me Father 2
- Solium Infernum
- Sky: Children of the Light
- Bopl Battle
- Jackbox Party Pack 10
- The Last Faith
- Pioneers of Pagonia
- Turnip Boy Robs a Bank
Forgive Me Father 2
Undeniably our favorite Next Fest demo, the follow-up to last year’s Lovecraftian FPS game Forgive Me Father is an instant hit. Super fun with incredibly pulp graphics and satisfying sounds, Forgive Me Father 2 teases you with two full stages and a glimpse at some equippable bonuses and loadouts. Sure, you can replay these stages as much as you want, but you’re not getting any further until the Forgive Me Father 2 release date, for which we’re particularly excited.
Don’t worry if you’ve not played the first game as these two introductory stages – and presumably the rest of the game – are a great entry point for series newbies, while returning fans of the boomer shooter will no doubt enjoy the original game’s familiar foes.
Forgive Me Father 2 is available to try for free during Next Steam Fest, and is set for release in early access on October 19, 2023.
In an age of PvP shooters and battle royales, it’s ok to long for a time of innocence, when teamwork and supporting others was encouraged and gaming toxicity didn’t exist. Well, allow the Devolver Digital-published KarmaZoo to take you back there. An adorable and unique platformer that hinges on co-op gameplay and working together, KarmaZoo turns you into a small bouncy ball and plops you into a Super Meat Boy-esque platform game with up to nine teammates.
The KarmaZoo catch is that the halo around you keeping you alive shrinks while you’re alone, so your team must all stay close enough to one another to stay alive. Nope, no showing off your skills and rushing off ahead. Got a newbie in your lobby who keeps falling down? Go back for them. All of you need to get out together at the end. On the way to the portal at the end of each level, there are also various puzzles that require at least two of you to work together. Each loop consists of a series of increasingly difficult levels, and your team stays together until the loop is completed.
As you help one another and complete objectives, you’ll receive Karma Hearts, which you can use to unlock the other main feature of KarmaZoo: shapeshifting. As you progress, you’ll discover a range of new animal or item forms, each with their own unique ability. For example, a hedgehog makes walls spiky so other players can stick to it and reach greater heights, while a lantern illuminates otherwise hidden rewards. Unless you’re playing with friends, you won’t know which of the 50-odd creatures your team will take on to enter the loop, so working together to learn and use your abilities (or lack thereof) is crucial.
Try KarmaZoo for two hours during Steam Next Fest, or prepurchase the game at a discount right now ahead of its release on November 14, 2023.
From our Solium Infernum preview, we can already say this unique turn-based strategy game is a must-play for fans of the genre. Unlike the usual war and land-based strategy games, Solium Infernum brings tactical politics to hell as you fight for the underworld’s coveted throne following the disappearance of Satan himself.
Stepping into the shoes of Lilith, Andromalius, Asteroth, or one of the devil’s other followers, you can choose to play it safe and pledge your allegiance to others before double-crossing them at the final hurdle, or fight from your first move, hurling insults in a bid to embarrass them in front of all of hell and reduce their chances of success. Manipulation, trickery, and deception are key in the depths of hell, so plan your moves wisely and in secret, as gorgeous, characterful animations play out on the board in front of you.
Solium Infernum doesn’t have a release date just yet, so make the most of the Steam Next Fest demo while you can.
Sky: Children of the Light
If the depths of hell are too much for you, then maybe Sky is more your speed. This unusual Steam Next Fest demo gives you a taste of a game that is brand-new to PC, but has actually been available on other platforms since 2019. Sky: Children of the Light will also be a free PC game upon its full release, so it’s risk-free even after Next Fest ends. That said, the award-winning MMO game from the creator of Journey makes our list anyway thanks to its stunning visuals and wholesome gameplay.
A gorgeous story about memories, freedom, and human interaction, Sky: Children of the Light puts you in the shoes of one Child of the Light as you embark on a journey through the world of Sky. Use your light to spark literal fires of friendship, free the spirits of your ancestors and allow them to move on unencumbered, and improve your own abilities. As you explore the world, you’ll find yourself accompanied by other Children, controlled by online players around the world. You can work together with them to ease your burden, and can even approach any Child of the Light and ignite your flame to ask them to be friends.
Once we get a full PC release date for Sky: Children of the Light, we wouldn’t be surprised to see it hit the top of our list of best relaxing games, accompanied by its big sister Journey, as this really is one of the most luxurious and peaceful games we’ve sunk into in some time – you might even say playing it feels akin to one of the fluffy, energy-boosting clouds in-game.
Sky: Children of the Light is available to try during Steam Next Fest, but its full, free-to-play release date is still to be revealed.
The industry is saturated with cute and colorful multiplayer games right now, but that doesn’t mean there’s not always room for more cute and colorful adventures. After all, there’s nothing better when playing with friends than bouncy critters going head to head in puzzles, obstacle courses, or combat. The latter is the focus of Bopl Battle, one of the most popular multiplayer games available during Next Fest. Go up against three of your friends in PvP, bouncing from platform to platform as a little ball of slime in an attempt to be the last blob standing.
As you load up for battle, fill two base slots with basic attacks, such as a bow or grenades, or defensive moves, like dash. Use these powers to try and nudge your fellow slimes off the map and take the win. As you play, more random powers drop in and are added to your arsenal if you’re the first to catch them. The joy of Bopl Battle comes from its simplicity, with these powers associated with your right, left, and middle mouse buttons.
There is one fairly big downside to this party game in its lack of online matchmaking. You can play local co-op or online multiplayer with friends, but you have to invite people to play, meaning they must be Steam friends already. During Next Fest, though, this won’t hold you back as plenty of players are looking for friends in the discussion page – and we’re sure that Bopl Battle will make for some fun couch co-op party play when its full release bounces in.
Try Bopl Battle with Steam friends while you can as there’s still no release date just yet.
Jackbox Party Pack 10
If you’re a fan of party games, then no doubt you’ve heard of the Jackbox series, and the next bundle is available to try for free during Steam Next Fest with the Jackbox Party Pack 10 demo. Multiplayer hijinx awaits, remotely or together, with one returning fan-favorite and four brand-new games to the series.
Tee K.O. from Party Pack 3, one of our all-time favorites, returns as Tee K.O. 2 in which you must draw the best (or funniest, or rudest) t-shirt design to win. Four new games then join the fray with Fixytext – think “several people are typing,” only your comment needs to be the most memorable; Hypnotorious, a social deduction puzzle game; Timejinx, where answering trivia questions incorrectly could alter your timeline; and Dodo Re Mi, a musical game combining rhythm and teamwork. Since Jackbox games vary wildly, we recommend using the demo to see how these mini-games fit in with your current collection before committing to the full purchase when it’s released later this month.
Jackbox Party Pack 10 is available to try for free during Next Steam Fest before its release on October 19, 2023.
We’re also giving you the chance to win your own bundle of party games with our Jackbox Party Pack 10 giveaway.
The Last Faith
One for metroidvania and soulslike fans alike, The Last Faith is a retro-style platformer combining the two genres in a dark, gothic world. The extended demo available during Steam Next Fest allows you to choose either the Brawler or Stargazer class, while the Rogue and Marksman remain locked to the full game. Whichever class you choose, discover gruesome custom kill animations, a generous array of weapons and spells, and terrifying soulslike-inspired bosses to defeat.
Don’t worry if you aren’t sure what’s going on during the early stages of the demo, as that’s part of the story. You, as Eryk, have no idea what’s going on as you explore the world around you, and your story unravels as you progress, as you expand your skills and your mind deteriorates. It’s a race against time to save yourself – and it looks damn good.
Try The Last Faith during Steam Next Fest right now, or be forced to wait until November 15, 2023, for its full release date.
Pioneers of Pagonia
Fans of city-building games and management sims should give Pioneers of Pagonia a try during its demo run. Play god in this satisfying exploration experience as you send out hundreds of tiny settlers to build a new city from scratch. With procedurally-generated worlds, each game of Pioneers of Pagonia is entirely unique, with new lands and discoveries to uncover.
The Pioneers of Pagonia demo is limited to a smaller space of land than in the full version of the game, but it’s still enough to get used to the building types, requirements, and mechanics of your new world. As you are given free reign to explore further in the full game, we’re promised that there are more secrets to uncover, including existing tribes who need your help, terrifying threats, and mythical creatures.
Pioneers of Pagonia can, at times, feel a little slow as you wait for your inhabitants to fulfill their tasks. That said, its ‘Wuselfaktor’ keeps you entertained as you watch these tiny little people carry out your work. You can even zoom into the map to see them up close as they eat, work, and build. Wuselfaktor is an appropriate term, used to describe the voyeurism of watching these tiny lives play out, given the traditional German aesthetic of the buildings and fashions of Pagonia.
Play Pioneers of Pagonia throughout Steam Next Fest, and prepare to build your full, bustling economy from December 13, 2023.
Turnip Boy Robs a Bank
Turnip Boy is always ready to get up to mischief, the perfect scapegoat for your own wild fantasies. So, ever wanted to rob a bank? If your answer is a resounding yes, which we can only assume it is, then jump into this adventure game and take a little turnip with a gun on a wild ride.
Following the misadventures of Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion, the incredibly talkative Turnip Boy is recruited by Dillitini to make some bank and rob a bank in this action-adventure game. There’s a tenuous link to the story of Tax Evasion, but, really, Dillitini just wants to make money, so if you’ve not played the first game, you’ll have no problem getting right into Turnip Boy Robs a Bank.
The cute, 16-bit aesthetic of the Turnip Boy games perfectly contradicts the subject matter, which is really the main appeal of Turnip Boy Robs a Bank. He’s so cute, is he really going to shoot… oh, yep. Use that adorable, butter-wouldn’t-melt appearance to shake down unsuspecting bystanders for their cash on your way to take down security guards and loot vaults. Whether you fail or succeed, Turnip Boy Robs a Bank has hours of replayability, with each Botanical Bank attempt offering unique playthroughs thanks to RNG.
Get a taste of Turnip Boy Robs a Bank during Steam Next Fest, before the full game rolls out later in 2023.
We could go on and on as there are loads of hidden gems to be found, but we have to draw the line somewhere, so these are just some of the very best Steam Next Fest demos. We’ve not even got the space to cover every genre here, but during Next Fest you can find racing games, dating sims, and a host of simulation games, including Hairdresser Simulator and Crime Scene Cleaner – we’ll let you decide which of those careers you’d rather try out. We’ve also dedicated an entire guide to the best Steam Next Fest horror games, since it is spooky season.