Six Great Demos To Check Out In Steam’s Next Fest 2023
Steam’s first Next Fest is on, and there are hundreds of demos for upcoming indie games available to play. As well as being able to get hands on time with many great new games, it’s also a good indicator of some of the best indie titles to release in 2023. Today I’m going to dive into 6 of the best demos I played.
Bleak Sword DX
This one is from Devolver Digital and it’s a minimalist, retro dark fantasy game coming to Nintendo Switch and PC. The original Bleak Sword was released on Apple Arcade back in 2019, and DX brings the game to the masses. It’s a brutal combat game, with basic RPG mechanics, set against a world of black, white and red pixel art graphics. You play as a swordsman exploring a fantasy landscape. The levels are small, self contained squares of land. Your objective is to defeat all the enemies on the square to progress to the next level. Along the way you can level up and collect items. Combat is relatively straight forward; strike, block, parry, dodge and counter. The game feels great, and it’s great to get our hands on it outside of the Apple eco-system. Hopefully this game finds legions of new fans and it’s definitely one to look out for later in 2023.
Dark and Darker
This is a multiplayer dungeon crawler, which has had a great start to life. It’s already reached 100,000+ concurrent players during Steam’s Next Fest, and it’s constantly at the top of the demo charts. In terms of gameplay this is like a combination of Skyrim and Escape from Tarkov. It’s a dark fantasy dungeon crawler where you have to fight with monsters, grab their treasure and battle against other players to make it out alive. You play as part of a three player squad and you can play as different classes like a ranger or bard. Dark and Darker is currently in alpha, however, there’s a serious appetite for this game. It’s in the top 10 most wishlisted games on Steam right now, so it’s worth getting in early. We don’t have a firm release date just yet, but expect the excitement to build throughout 2023.
The Last Case of Benedict Fox
This is a combination of a metroidvania and detective game, as Benedict Fox tries to uncover the mysteries of a murder of a young couple. Fox has a demon sidekick and this allows you to explore memories of the dead. Fox uses this power to explore the mind of his dead father, which means the play space you inhabit becomes twisted and surreal as Fox explores memories and thoughts. There are different weapons like a knife, pistol and supernatural powers. The game does have some surreal features, such as Harry Houdini as a merchant in the game, plus you can unlock new abilities by visiting a tattoo artist. The game features a great mix of combat, story telling, detective work, and it all works together surprisingly well. This one is due for release in Spring 2023, and it’s definitely one to watch in 2023.
This is a town builder where you have to grow your community in a RPG sandbox adventure. Pixelshire combines town building, exploration and combat together very well. You can master trades, get to know your neighbors and explore the continent of Arcadia. The game has a number of stand out features like creating your ideal town, you can build and decorate your own house, plus invite citizens to join you. The game has elements of Animal Crossing, and Stardew Valley, and if this sounds like your kind of thing then I recommend checking out Pixelshire.
Planet of Lana
This one comes from a Swedish Developer Wishfully and gives me Limbo vibes. Planet of Lana is a puzzle platformer where you play as a female lead with a small companion. You have to work together to solve puzzles, open paths for each other. Lana can point to instruct where the creature should go, as well as run, duck, jump and crouch. You can interact with objects, and you can also die quite easily, which produces that Limo-like ragdoll effect. Visually it’s a very good looking game with a hand-crafted look and feel. It’s bright, breezy and colorful, which is a stark contrast to Limbo, plus the companion mechanics really set it apart. It’s a game that’s had a lot of build up being featured in various 2022 showcases, however, it’s great to finally get hands on it. It’s scheduled for release on Xbox and PC in Spring 2023.
Radio The Universe
This one immediately caught my eye when scrolling through the demos. It’s an action RPG developed and published by 6E6E6E, plus its a good success story coming from Kickstarter. It has retro inspired pixel art graphics and takes place in a gothic cyberpunk setting, where a female protagonist wakes up to find herself in a skyless and desolate city called Null Module. Regarding the gameplay it’s top down combat, plus an element of open-world exploration. You have melee and ranged combat, plus when you die you leave behind unspent energy, similar to Hollow Knight or Dark Souls. These points can be used to upgrade your character at various kiosks thoughout Null Module. Radio The Universe also contains boss battles, environmental hazards and puzzles too.
Let me know what you think and share your top demos from Steam’s Next Fest February 2023.