The best Steam Next Fest demo to watch right now

A collage showing three images from Driftwood, Mars First Logistics and Meat Grinder.

Image: Stoked Sloth Interactive / Shape Shop / Vampire Squid / Kotaku

Steam Next Fest is here! It’s a great time of year when Valve and a group of video game developers come together to roll out hundreds of free demos of upcoming video games on Steam. But maybe there are… too many demos? Let us help you with some recommendations!

Quick note: Some of these demos have a deadline and will disappear after the next Festival ends. Also, there are so many great demos out there right now that there’s no way we can cover every last good one here. So if you played anything interesting in Next Fest that we haven’t covered here, feel free to share your discoveries in the comments section below. Now, let’s get started!

Dust & Neon

A top-down two-stick roguelite robot cowboy shooter

Rogue / Game Trailer

Robots are dangerous…and also your friends. Yes, things are complicated in this wild top-down shooter with great music and great gunplay. Like many other two stick shooters, you move with the left stick and aim with the right stick. But Dust & Neon It’s not all about running around frantic. Instead, you’ll need to strategically use cover and dodge while enemies are loading to stay alive. Chests containing randomly dropped loot and new guns will help you through the challenging battle.

One more thing! I like how every time you reload you manually load each bullet or bullet. Any game that makes reloading fun is fun in my book. And you don’t have to wait long to play the full game, because Dust & Neon Released on February 16th.

Mars’ first logistics

Colorful and wacky space robot puzzle’

Ian MacLarty

Welcome to Mars. You are a lone robot trapped there and forced to help humans fix the place. It’s hard work, but at least you can have fun with it. IN Mars’ first logistics You have to build and rebuild different robots to complete the delivery mission. For example, you may need to pick up a box of oranges and then carry a large steel beam. While one robot design might work perfectly for one task, that same design could be terrible for the other. So rebuilding, tinkering and testing is a big part of the game.

Really, the best way to describe Mars’ first logistics That is it dead aground pass with Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. Tap into a slick art style and some vibrant tunes and there you are one of the coolest demos available on Steam.

Meat grinder

Brutal FPS action on a never-ending convoy

One of my favorite video game levels is in discover 2, when you have to fight through a moving convoy. The way you have to plan ahead and then change those plans when the truck moves or explodes is interesting. Now, if you take that level, sprinkle it on Crazy Max aesthetics, Death-like fightingand the action of jumping the truck from Clustertruck? Yes, you will get Meat grinder, Baby. And that’s a good thing!

Meat grinder possibly one of the most intense and non-stop wild shooters I’ve played in a while, and that’s by design. The game is built around moving forward, getting new guns, killing tons of bad guys, and doing all of this as fast as you can to keep your in-game heart rate up. The higher, the better as you recover faster. If it goes too low, you will die. To avoid that, you’ll need to kick, shoot, grapple, and dash. And it all feels good. Really well.


Relaxed world generator, very similar to other hex based world generator…

Kingdom Awaken / Chicken Launcher

Well, let’s get this over with now: This game looks and plays a lot like the great game Dorfromantika game that many people here Kotaku admired, including myself. But while Overview is clearly inspired by the other cold world builder, it’s not just a mindless clone. Instead of, Overview builds on basic challenges and quests in Dorfromantikadds larger targets to create and gives you more control over the layout of each world.

I also like the way Overview allows you to plan a little more and work towards bigger goals while you make sure to keep developing each colorful world, allowing you to keep playing. I think Dorfromantik is the more polished of the two, but Overview worth checking outespecially if you love dorf and wanted something similar but new to play.


Comfort and amazingly fast long-boarding action

Interactive Sloted Sloth

Miss your great TikTok Surfing and listening to Fleetwood Mac? What if someone took inspiration from that video, built a game around it, and then replaced the human with a cool sloth? Well, that’s basically driftwood, a long windsurf that looks relaxing, but actually hides an intense experience under the surface.

If you want, you can go slow and just go along the roads and hills of driftwood, perhaps listening to Fleetwood Mac. But if you push the left stick forward more and take advantage of the in-game scoring system that rewards you for taking risks and drifting, you’ll quickly spot this sloth and the long slide. Its can go very, very fast. Thankfully, the game plays great at all speeds thanks to its tight, responsive controls. Don’t wait to try this, either, when the demo stopped working on February 13th.

Super Adventure Hands

A colorful and eerie 3D background starring a scary hand

Games for developers / Zworp

Glover no gloves. That’s it. that is Super Adventure Hands. Okay… well… not really. That’s not really true. But it’s not completely also wrong. Super Adventure Hands is a level-based 3D platformer with light puzzle elements, including a severed human hand that appears to be sentient as well. While it has horribly long fingers and a thumb that bends in a way I can’t stand, it’s really good at climbing, allowing you to grip almost any surface in the game. So the action is more about finding the way or unlocking the exit, not the super precise platform.

I had a good time with the demo, even with some generic music and boring menus. But then I ran into the first enemy in the game that you must avoid: Human feet with human eyeballs. I have a lot of questions, but I’ll probably have to wait for the full release to get my answers.

cardboard town

A charming and cute card-based city builder

The game begins!

cardboard town takes the basic city building concept of creating a large, efficient and diverse city and rocking it with random cards. These cards can be good or bad and can completely change your plans. Maybe you want to build a nice shopping mall? Well, if you get a bunch of factory and road cards, you’ll likely have to change your plans or risk failure due to resource depletion.

intuitive, cardboard town is an interesting one, with every building, bush, and other item in the game designed to look like it was handcrafted from paper and cardboard. Sadly, it looks like the game needs more music and sound effects, but what’s here is fine and worth playing. Please note that the demo for this cute little town builder with cards passed away on February 28.

Any other Steam Next Fest demos that caught your attention? Let us know!


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