The Steam Next Fest is almost upon us, and there have been so many incredible game demos have been showcased. I played almost a hundred different games in a variety of genres, and while there were a lot of great ones, there were only a handful that really caught me, and I didn't want to stop playing. I already talked about some in our Part 1 article, but in this one, we have another 13 that captivated me, especially the first four games on this list!
Here are the game demos you should consider playing before the Steam Next Fest ends:
Into Evil (Q2 2024)
On the store page, Into Evil describes itself as Hotline Miami meets Dark Souls, and I feel like this is extremely accurate. The game seems to take all of what I loved about both series and put it in a great little package, adds in 4-player co-op, and creates a memorable experience I can't help but recommend. With plans to make every item unique in some way, as well as a focus on different abilities instead of stats, this hardcore souls-like is one to watch if you're a fan of the genre.
As for Steam Deck performance, it is near perfect. I did notice some drops from 90 FPS, but playing at 60 is flawless and looks amazing on the handheld. This was probably one of the last demos I played during the Next Fest, and it became my favorite (which is why it's above all of these). Please take this last day to try Into Evil, and you won't regret it.
Mullet Mad Jack (Coming Soon)
Another one of the final Next Fest demos that completely blew me away. Mullet Mad Jack is a fast-paced shooter that has a classic style mixed with anime that can feel unmatched at times. You will run through multiple floors filled with enemies, but you only have 10 seconds to live, so you will need to keep killing in unique ways to get more time on the clock. In roguelike fashion, you will get new and different upgrades as you complete floors, and while there's a story mode, there will also be an endless mode with randomized levels!
On the Steam Deck, it can run at 60 FPS for the most part, but there are some drops to 40 during general play. When there are a lot of explosions, this can drop a little further, but it will usually recover immediately. Playing at 40 FPS will be the best way to enjoy it. This is another amazing one to try though, and I can't wait for the full release.
Another spin on the roguelike genre that works extremely well, even with an odd combination of gameplay elements. In this one, you are actually playing combinations of poker hands to beat your opponent's score and win money to buy new upgrades for your hand. These can affect the multipliers you get to increase your score further, enhance your hand, or level up the different combinations you can make. It is an intriguing way to combine Poker and roguelikes, and I am all for it.
On the Steam Deck, the game plays flawlessly. It hits 60 FPS without any issue, and the drain sticks around 6W - 7W. This is going to be a near-perfect experience and a great game to play on the go.
NIMRODS: GunCraft Survivor (2024)
The more I play these demos, the more I realize how much I enjoy vampire survivor-like games where you have a bit more control over your attacking with more unique gameplay systems. NIMRODS is like that, but instead of new weapons and abilities, you are constantly adding on to your gun each time you level up, making it more powerful in a variety of ways. Some upgrades offer abilities, while others just get stronger. In my last run, I built an explosive minigun out of an assault rifle, and it was awesome.
It runs perfectly on the Steam Deck, I have no complaints whatsoever!
Maniac (Coming Soon)
If you are a fan of the older GTA titles or GTA Chinatown Wars, this will look extremely familiar. Maniac feels like a semi-roguelike version of those games. You select a character, choose upgrades you can purchase with the money you get, and then roam around a city from a top-down view, stealing cars and kicking and shooting your way to make more money. As you run around the level, you can also get temporary upgrades to help you survive the 15 minutes necessary to witness the nuclear explosion.
The game is a ton of fun and runs quite well on the Steam Deck. Without changes, I was able to hit 60 FPS without the battery drain going over 15W in most scenarios. There were a few that got it draining a bit too much, getting to 20W at one point when it got very crazy, but the framerate held strong!
Tales of Kenzera: ZAU (4/23)
Tales of Kenzera is a 2.5D metroidvania that follows Zau, a shaman who partners with the god of death to reclaim his father's soul. You will wield unique powers as you run through the gorgeous world of Kenzera. As you progress, you will utilize a combination of melee and ranged attacks and upgrade Zau as he progresses to save his father. The game shines in its visuals and combat, which feels and looks fluid and vibrant.
As for Steam Deck performance, it will play admirably for the most part. I was able to hit 40 FPS in almost every area, and it felt fantastic, but there were a couple of parts that had some massive drops to 20 FPS. It didn't happen often, but it seemed to happen in specific areas. Since this is a demo, and the drops only hit hard in a few areas, I am willing to bet the full game will have these issues fixed up.
INDIKA (Q2 2024)
I was very confused about INDIKA when I first saw it. It seemed like an FMV, but it wasn't. It is, however, a gorgeous-looking and incredibly intriguing third-person story-driven game about a nun on a journey of self-discovery with the devil! From the moments I played, I was completely captivated by the narrative, and I love how the influences from the devil can affect reality throughout the journey.
Unfortunately, performance on the Steam Deck isn't completely playable yet. While there are moments of over 30 FPS play, there were just as many that would go under. There aren't any graphical settings to play around with, so I am sure the full version will be more playable, but it isn't just yet. Regardless, I can't wait for the full release!
Death of a Wish (3/11)
Death of a Wish is an Action-RPG with a very unique aesthetic, which only elevates how cool it looks. As a Christian, you will team up with people and take down the cult that raised you. The game has a hand-drawn style to it that I find very appealing, and with brutal powers and epic cinematic-style battles, this looks like it will be an extremely cool game to play!
On the Steam Deck, it runs flawlessly at 90 FPS with an 8.5W battery drain. It seems like the perfect game to play on the go, and I am glad the demo shows it working so well.
Rootin' Tootin' Lootin' & Shootin' confused me at first, and the controls can feel a little wonky, but once you know how to play, it is so much fun. It is a turn-based strategy game where you move a tile, and when you don't move, time stops. This gives you time to plan your shots, dodge, and choose your weapon. As you go through the level, you will collect money to buy new weapons and items and dive through each area.
On the Steam Deck, I experienced almost no slowdowns. It was a solid 90 FPS with the occasional stutter, but what got me in the beginning was the controller support. Menus can't be selected with the gamepad, but you can select with the touchscreen. As for movement, you will press A to move, use the left stick to aim, and choose where to move. Once I got used to this, I was enjoying the game immensely.
Wraithbinder (Q1 2024)
Coming from the awesome dev behind Songbringer, Wraithbinder is an action roguelike that will take you on a dungeon-crawling adventure filled with enemies, abilities, and more. As you progress through the randomized dungeons, you will come across a plethora of different artifacts that buff you, new weapons, and more. With the abilities being acquired similarly to a Metroidvania, you will be able to go back through the levels and unlock new paths before you ascend to a new area. The systems feel fantastic, and I love the aesthetic and designs overall.
On the Steam Deck, playing at 60 FPS is possible and very easy to do. While running around and fighting, the framerate will hold without issue. The biggest problem so far is the reduction in framerate when turning the camera. This could drop the rate to around 20 FPS before coming back to 60. It feels like this could be intentional, but I wasn't a big fan of the timely drop. Overall, everything else works perfectly and it feels great to play on Deck otherwise!
Parkour Labs (Coming Soon)
Parkour Labs is a...well...a game about parkour! You will run through levels and jump on the lit-up tiles you need to and get to the end of each level. There's a certain beauty of simplicity to it, due to only being able to run, turn, and jump, but I really like it. And, with the beat and neon aesthetic, I find it to be a great way to test your skills that will definitely challenge the way you move.
As for Steam Deck performance, I found little issue while playing. I was able to hold a 90 FPS framerate the entire time, which I believe is thanks to the simple graphics instead of more detailed 3D worlds. The slow turning using a joystick may feel a bit off when making split decisions. I didn't find it jarring, and I was able to complete the demo after many tries!
Helskate is quite an interesting combination of skateboarding and an action roguelike that I feel does quite well in balancing both. You will skate through levels, chain combos, and tricks and power yourself up as you slay the monsters in Vertheim. You will get weapons and gear to play your way and upgrade your abilities to keep coming back stronger and stronger. And I love the tape system where different tricks can give you buffs or even new abilities from them!
As for Steam Deck performance, it seems like it will be able to hold its own. It can handle 60 FPS with some minor slowdowns, but they aren't very noticeable. I could see it slowing down a little more in later levels with tons of enemies, but the full game could be more optimized, so I am optimistic!
Beat Slayer (4/4)
Imagine if Hi-Fi Rush was more like a roguelike, and you would get Beat Slayer! Like a classic roguelike, you will go through randomized runs, get abilities, upgrade, die, enhance your permanent passives, and then go again, but combine that with the rhythm timing to the beat of awesome music, and you get a fantastic combination.
On the Steam Deck, I was able to get 60 FPS, but there were enough parts where it dropped a little that I may recommend setting it to 40. I believe the final product could hit 60 if optimizations are implemented, so we will see! Otherwise, this is an awesome game to play.
And that is the last list of ours! These games are awesome, and it has been amazing being able to play them in this Next Fest. All of these games are definitely worth your time, so if you can today, please make sure to do so!
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