These are our favorite demos from this year’s Steam Next Fest -.

Although Microsoft has relatively successfully copied Valve’s original initiative with their [email protected] Demo Fest, Steam Next Fest is something special. Not only do millions of enthusiasts gather around Steam to try relatively small indie titles that get attention they never otherwise would have dreamed of, it is also a celebration of the good, central idea.

It’s the good idea that draws people to specific demos and celebrates them. If an indie project has a solid look, a great gimmick or finely tuned mechanics, it’s like Steam Next Fest is bringing it to attention.

I took the plunge, for the first time actually, into Steam Next Fest and enjoyed it immensely. I let my curiosity take over and downloaded many exciting demos, which I experienced mostly on my Steam Deck, a handheld that I spend more and more time with.

In fact, I’ve had so many great experiences that I decided to put together a short list of the best demos I’ve experienced and recommend you put on your radar. Okay, let’s get started.

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Moonstone Island

After Stardew Valley, it’s a bit like the formula has been copied wholesale, and it’s actually pretty easy to come across a solid “Stardew Valley-like” one. Whether it’s Kynseed, My Time at Portia or something completely different.

However, I loved the Moonstone Island demo, a game that captures the charm, the beauty of setting up a regular daily routine and a beautiful world waiting to be discovered.

Pizza Possum

Like Untitled Goose Game, the premise behind Pizza Possum is very simple. You are a possum and you must navigate around a small island to find food. You have to alternate between running, hiding and avoiding guards and dogs while collecting food.

Watch the trailer, maybe you’ll be convinced.

Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew

This game comes from Mimimi Games, who were previously responsible for Desperados III, and you can feel the tactical depth of that game coming through here.

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It actually comes out on Aug. 17, so there’s every reason to put it on your Wishlist and give it a look as we get closer.

En Garde!

Colorful graphics, a charming protagonist, a variation on the combat system from the Batman Arkham games and a great pirate setting. That’s what En Garde! offers, and I was immediately hooked with a solid gameplay loop, and it’s probably mostly the combat system that makes it feel so responsive and personalized.

Lil’ Guard

Imagine Papers, Please in a fantasy setting where it’s mostly about questioning people who want something from the small-town guards. You can contact various members of the town council, check information and much, much more, and it’s all tied together with a kind of Cartoon Network aesthetic that really fascinated me.

The demo was very short, but there’s a strong opening here, no question.

I hope you are inspired and not only attend next year’s Steam Next Fest, but keep an eye on these titles and check them out when they arrive.

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