Top 15 Next Fest Demos To Check Out

Start October Off Right With Steam Next Fest!


Steam Next Fest | Featured

There’s just too many amazing games coming out these days. It’s a fact. Which sounds like a good problem to have, but it can be a real challenge cutting through the jungle of games to find the hidden treasures. But it’s a challenge I relish, and so today I’m sharing several Steam Next Fest games with you all. They are all totally free to demo from today until 10/7 as part of the event. And though typically I only have a Top 10, the lowest I could go was Top 15 this time.

There’s a decent variety of genres this time around, and somehow I managed to avoid solely including Metroidvanias. There’s action / adventure, puzzle, plenty of rogue, tactics, platformers, RPGs and even the rare sports battle game included. And though, like usual, I haven’t played any of these myself yet, I think they all stand a great chance of being a fun time. Furthermore, there’s no game here that I’ve previously demoed, just to keep things fair and balanced.

ANNO: Mutationem


Next Fest | ANNO: Mutationem

Despite the popularity of the cyberpunk genre, I find that I haven’t played many worthwhile contenders in recent years. Which is a shame, since I love me some dark and brooding dystopian stories. But that might change with ANNO: Mutationem. Developed by ThinkingStars, it’s a action / adventure game with 2D and 3D segments. And it’s completely gorgeous! If the gameplay is half as capable as the visual style, this will be a very exciting demo.



Next Fest | Arctictopia

I never find enough time to play puzzle games. So I made sure that I included at least one on this list. Also, it doesn’t hurt that Arctictopia is freaking adorable. It revolves around a mother and cub polar bear. Your job is to keep them together, and plan routes across tricky melting ice. Sure, it’s nothing life changing, but sometimes you just need something sweet and simple.

Astral Ascent


Next Fest | Astral Ascent

I’m a pretty big sucker for pixel-art. But when you pair that with rogue tendencies, I’m usually sold. Which brings us to Astral Ascent. Developed by Hibernian Workshop, it’s a gorgeous and action-packed game. You choose one of 4 heroes and use their skills to wage war against the 12 Zodiacs. Fight them solo or team up with a friend. Either way, it sounds like fun.



Next Fest | BIOTA

I’ve been a Metroidvania fanboy for years now, since Super Metroid and Symphony of the Night changed my gaming worldview. So it’s probably no surprise I have several on this list. That said, I was totally captivated by B.I.O.T.A. The pixel art somewhat reminds me of games like Gato Roboto, but it’s still very distinct. You’ll face off against an alien organism that can totally co-opt most things it its path. Which probably means hideous mutants and terrifying bosses. So if you need a little Metroid Fusion energy before Dread comes out, I’d check B.I.O.T.A. out soon.

Castle Morihisa


Next Fest | Castle Morihisa

I wasn’t always a fan of deck-building games. But somewhere along the way, after years of playing Yu-Gi-Oh!, I just sort of naturally gravitate towards games with cards. Which Castle Morihisa assuredly is. It’s also a rogue-like, meaning there’s a lot of potential variety, at least if done right. And just going from this one image alone, it’s also inspired by classics such as Slay the Spire. Which is hard to top, but here’s hoping. Also, not for nothing, but I appreciate the Japanese-themed content. You can play as a Monk, Ninja, Onmyoji or Samurai, all with different cards at their disposal. Throw in the ability to use the power of Sengoku fallen allies, and you have a lot of promise here.



Next Fest | Critadel

While it’s true that I’ve previously covered Critadel, I have yet to try it firsthand. And other than the final Binding of Isaac DLC, this is the game I most anticipate from publisher Nicalis. Not only does it feature beautiful sprite work, but it’s also a challenging rogue-like format. Run, gun, slash and jump your way through the the Tower of Babel, fighting off cultists armed with futuristic weapons. Definitely worth checking out for fans of the genre.

Gastova: The Witches of Arkana


Next Fest | Gastova: The Witches of Arkana

I’m not gloating when I say platformers are my bread and butter. I just grew up playing the likes of Mario, and never stopped. And while I don’t love every platformer, especially the ruthless and unbalanced ones, I love the genre overall. And Gastova: The Witches of Arkana looks like a charming platformer. Your quest is to become a Guardian Witch. In the process, you will run, jump, dodge and shoot your way to success. Add a lighthearted story, and you have the right elements for a great platformer.

Grid Force – Mask of the Goddess


Next Fest | Grid Force

Though I’m far from a superior tactical gamer, I still enjoy the occasional tactics game. I loved series like Advance Wars and more recent entries like Wargroove. And while the Steam page calls Grid Force – Mask of the Goddess a story driven real-time Shmup, I know a tactics game when I see one. This one instantly reminded me of the Mega Man Battle Network games. And though I was pretty horrible at those titles, I still enjoyed them. So hopefully Grid Force is worth suffering a little with while mastering the mechanics.

Haiku, the Robot


Next Fest | Haiku

Now, to be completely transparent, I’ve known about Haiku, the Robot for quite some time. After all, I’m one of the folks who helped back the plucky little Metroidvania. But I have never played the game in any capacity, so it’s still fair game for this list. I honestly don’t know whether it plays well or not, but I certainly hope so. Stylistically it reminds me strongly of KUNAI, though with its own flair. It’s set in a world where most robots have been mysteriously corrupted. Only you can stop them and find the source of the corruption. If you enjoy the genre, I think Haiku is a game worth checking out.

Hunt the Night


Next Fest | Hunt the Night

Hunt the Night is another game that’s been on my mind for a while now. You may have caught my love for Castlevania: Symphony of the Night earlier. And that’s not just cause it’s a classic Metroidvania. It’s also bursting at the seams with Gothic energy. A lot of the same energy seems to be in Hunt the Night. You play Vesper, a Stalker that uses the powers of darkness to fight monsters. Sure, you’re still technically human, but power corrupts and all that jazz. You’ll fight to save humanity as both the world and your own core identity is threatened by the darkness.

Ignis Universia: Awakening of the Erudite Empress


Next Fest | Ignis Universia

Now, some of you are probably complaining by now that I haven’t yet included any RPGs on this list, but fret not. I love the occasional RPG or JRPG, but only if it’s turn-based. I’m not big on real-time action in my fantasy. But luckily, Ignis Universia is exactly my sort of JRPG! But even better, it also is a Visual Novel game. So you’ll get to spend time quality time with four magical sisters. Did I mention super cute summons as well? Yup, this is the type of RPG that I think many gamers will enjoy.



Next Fest | Spiderheck

Now, another genre I don’t play enough are party games. Generally I prefer games I can play solo. But there’s also something really special about playing with some friends all on the same couch. And when you throw in neon lights, spiders and all sorts of deadly weapons, you have the makings of a party game I’d love. Spiderheck is a crazy looking game, and it allows up to 4 players to battle it out as a heroic arachnid. Oh and did I mention you can level up and obtain unique perks to keep things fresh? Let the battle to the death commence!




I also usually avoid anything that’s sports related. But even though SUPER UFO FIGHTER is considered a sports battle game, I just consider it a good time. It’s as if developer VV-LABO looked at Part Time UFO, and said, “but what if it was a battle game?”. Which sounds insane, but in the best of ways. You and your opponent will smash objects and then scoop them up with your tractor beams. Add in unique stage gimmicks and super colorful artwork, and SUPER UFO FIGHTER should be out of this world.



Next Fest | Transiruby

Just when you thought it was safe, I found another Metroidvania! Odd name aside, Transiruby looks like a charming example of the genre. You play a shapeshifting cyborg girl. After a continent from another dimension appears, your job is to investigate it. That’s great, but it’s also being published by Flyhigh Works, so there’s a good chance this will be a polished adventure.

Young Souls


Next Fest | Young Souls

Now, while Young Souls is technically touted as an RPG, it’s also a beat ’em up. So I guess I got two birds with one stone here. It’s another game that I’ve been fascinated by for a while. A large part of that is thanks to the stunning art style. But the combat also looks great. Throw in a missing mentor and monsters from another world, and you have my vote.

There you have it. My latest and hopefully greatest Top list for Steam Next Fest. I hope you all enjoy the games I helped signal boost, and that you’ll find time to try a couple during the event. And be sure to stay tuned to HPP for more coverage of promising and eclectic game adventures.

Josh Speer
Got my start in the industry at oprainfall, but been a game fanatic since I was young. Indie / niche advocate and fan of classics like Mega Man, Castlevania and Super Metroid. Enjoys many genres, including platformers, turn based / tactical RPGs, rhythm and much more. Champion of PAX West and Knight of E3.

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