The best Steam Next Fest demos that left us wanting more

The most exciting upcoming games we tried during October's Steam Next Fest.

We’ve crested the peak of the wave, and the gigantic swell of demos has begun to recede. The October Steam Next Fest is coming to a close. Valve’s showcase of upcoming games has once again served up a glut of demos far too numerous for any mortal being to consume. But while an endless banquet of appetizers may be overwhelming, that certainly won’t stop us from taking a bite. We’ve chomped our way through demo dishes galore to discover the best Steam Next Fest demos that left us hungry for a full course.

Cobalt Core

October steam next fest cobalt core - a hand of cards is visible under two pixelated ships facing off above. Different creature crew members can be seen in boxes on the left
 
© Rocket Rat Games

Delivering an exciting new mix of beloved ingredients, Cobalt Core combines the roguelike spaceships of FTL with the deft deck building of Slay the Spire. Plot a path through the encounters of each sector, each of which offers the chance to battle enemy ships, upgrade and streamlining your deck, or encounter unusual, often comedic characters. 

Cobalt Core’s deck-driven combat introduces a novel maneuvering aspect, allowing you to evade left and right to avoid enemy fire or target specific sectors of your opponent’s ship. The demo only grants access to the first sector but, much like Slay the Spire, that’s more than enough time to see the potential for card combos and future ship builds. Our favorite touch? The small comments and cheers your from your crew of critters each time you successfully land a hit or deflect an attack.

Cobalt Core is due to release November 8. Wishlist it on Steam here.

Super Crazy Rhythm Castle

October steam next fest demos super crazy rhythm castle - Four players stand in the bottom left of the screen. Colors light up as noted fly down paths around a frog and a demonic hippo creature. A bean vending machine is on the right
 
© Second Impact Games

To overthrow this maniacal monarch, you’re going to need revolutions per minute. That’s because Super Crazy Rhythm Castle takes place in a bizarre world powered by the pulse of the beat. Team up with three friends, or go in solo – with the help of the unsettling handog – as you complete increasingly ridiculous musical challenges that bounce and bop through genres. 

The demo showcases an excellent mix of minigames that regularly remix the rules in amusing manners. Paired with entertaining music and charmingly comedic writing, Super Crazy Rhythm Castle looks set to deliver a magical mixtape when the full release arrives later this year.

Super Crazy Rhythm is due to release November 14. Wishlist it on Steam here.

The Talos Principle 2

The talos principle 2 best steam next fest demos - the player holds a machine in their hand. Several devices are powered up with colored laser beams. Another device to the left is pointed at a wall, creating a circular hole through it for a laser beam to pass through
 
© Croteam

Portal and Portal 2 set such a high bar for 3D, physics and logic-driven puzzle games that few titles in the decade since have measured up. The original Talos Principle was an exception, beautifully blending intelligent challenges with mythology and philosophy. The sequel is hoping to repeat the trick, continuing with new challenges in a fresh world opened up by the events of the original. 

The demo opens with familiar environments from the first game before shifting to the new and wider world of the sequel. The brief experiences offered with new puzzle components like teleporters and color converters hint towards plenty of fiendish challenges to come. Crucially, the sense of exploration remains too, with plenty to be discovered by exploring beyond the standard level boundaries.

The Talos Principle 2 releases November 2. You can wishlist it on Steam here.

Saturnalia

Best october steam next fest demos saturnalia - a person approaches a large stone building lit in purple. They hold a lit match in their hand as they walk up large stone steps
 
© Santa Ragione

Those in search of an elevated heart rate have had plenty of interesting horror game demos to sample in the October Steam Next Fest. Saturnalia’s striking art direction helped separate its scares from the masses, and the narrow, maze-like streets of its setting only drew us in further. Only to then send us scampering to escape as a jangling, nerve-wracking terror turned them into its hunting grounds.

The demo sets up the story well. As a far-from-friendly festival progresses night falls, an untamed thing rises from the mines to stalk the streets. Several outsiders find themselves caught in the town while searching for answers. They all have different reasons, but they’ll need to work together to uncover the truth and, hopefully, survive to share it.

Saturnalia is set to release in 2023. Wishlist it on Steam here.

Sentry

Best october steam next fest demos Sentry - the player looks forward holding a rifle. In front a spiked trap on the wall eviscerates an alien
 
©

We’ll rarely turn down the opportunity to enjoy more trap-based wave-survival games in the vein of Orcs Must Die, especially when they’re crafted quite so well as Sentry. This sci-fi FPS sees you setting up deadly traps including automated spikes, turrets, landmines and more, then pulling out your own suite of guns to fight alongside them against hordes of inbound alien menaces. 

You choose your loadout before each level, and there’s plenty of joy to be had in mixing and matching tools to create the ultimate killbox. Should you slow or stun enemies in the path of your auto turrets, or place repulsors to knock enemies into the abyss? Sentry’s levels also include plenty of environmental toys to work with as well, including your Standard Video Game Explosive Barrels™ and the option to shoot out windows to temporarily suck nearby foes into the vacuum of space. The demo is solo only, but the final release promises co-op support for up to four players.

Sentry doesn’t yet have a release date, but you can wishlist it on Steam here.


What games did you enjoy most from the October Steam Next Fest? Read our roundup of horror games here.

Associate Editor

Henry Stenhouse serves an eternal punishment as the Associate Editor of AllGamers. He spent his younger life studying the laws of physics, even going so far as to complete a PhD in the subject before video games stole his soul. Confess your love of Super Smash Bros. via email at henry@moonrock.biz, or catch him on Twitter.

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