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Steam Next Fest is live once again with plenty of indie demos

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Ready to have a busy week? Steam Next Fest: February 2022 Edition is officially live and there's plenty of indie developers showing off their latest. Not only can you expect to see a ton of limited-time playable demos (some devs keep them up), there's also a week full of livestreams and developer chats direct on store pages.

Obviously we can't go linking to every single possible demo and no one wants that - so what's around that's worth taking a look at? Here's a few I think could end up being something special:

  • Core Keeper has you build a base, mine resources, craft equipment and defeat giant monsters. A bit of everything.
  • Fishing Paradiso is a mix of a narrative-driven adventure with RPG-style progression systems. Yes, a fishing game with a proper story. I still can't quite believe it.
  • Fist of the Forgotten a platformer set in a harsh, dark world, but that doesn't mean you're helpless.
  • Flock of Dogs a top-down, twin-stick, crew game. One player pilots a whale while everyone else rides flying dogs. Sounds hilarious.
  • McPixel 3 sounds like it's going to be a good laugh full of crazy little adventures.
  • Stardeus is a sci-fi colony management simulator with aspects of automation, base building and space exploration.
  • TFC: The Fertile Crescent a classic base-building RTS set in the Bronze Age.

Next Fest runs until February 28th at 10 AM PT / 6 PM UTC.

Be sure to comment with any you find that are particularly great.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Demo, Event, Meta, Steam
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whizse Feb 21, 2022
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Looking at the classic 'venturing games, these look interesting:
  • A Classic Tale - Features an undead deuteragonist (depressive Death)!
  • Nine Noir Lives - How many things need to be licked to solve a murder in this town?

Also, I look forward to trying the McPixel 3 demo.
Anza Feb 22, 2022
I browsed through the list and I have played demos of Nine Noir Lives and Crowns and Pawns: Kingdom of Deceit.

Last time I played the Nine Noir Lives demo, it had way too much dialogue. Some of it was funny, but still there's a limit. If I remember correctly, demo is relatively short.

Crowns and Pawns is also adventure game. Based on the demo it seemed to be pretty decent. For those with pixel allergy, graphics are high resolution. Not hand drawn, but high resolution and hand drawn is rarity.

Hopefully I have time to try at least few of the demos that I haven't played before. Based on previous years, large number of them are likely broken (most common reason being missing executable), but can't know before trying.
Philadelphus Feb 22, 2022
I tried out The Wandering Village last night and got hooked—I only meant to try it for half an hour or so until I got bored, and I ended up playing two hours until the demo ended. It's a city builder-type game with the twist that your band of refugees (from mysterious toxic spores growing around the world) is building their village on top of a gargantuan megabeast called an Onbu, which you can research the ability to feed, doctor, and guide. It travels about the world map passing sites of interest that you can explore as you pass by, and goes through different biomes which affect your strategy*. The art style is really cool, with a mixture of 3D and (really well done) 2D art. It does feel slightly bare-bones at the moment, as I researched probably about half the research tree in the demo, but it's also listed as version 0.1.11, so assuming the developers** keep up the good work on it it'll be an insta-buy from me.

I've got a few other demos I downloaded to try, I'll report back if any of them catch my fancy like The Wandering Village did.

*You can build "airwells" to collect water from humidity in the air, for instance, but they don't collect any water in the desert (which of course was what my Onbu spent the majority of its time wandering through!).

**A small indie team in Switzerland—there's a neat group photo of them as a splash screen when you first load the game, and it's made me realize just how detached we usually are from the real, human, people who make games. Usually they're just a name in a scrolling credits sequence, at best.
Anza Feb 23, 2022
I have recently played three demos now:

Core Keeper

This one is kind of mining, building and crafting game. You're mostly left on your own. For example in the first screen you need to figure out that you can remove roots blocking your way by left clicking.

After while you can find some more resources you can mine and eventually start crafting. I quite when I couldn't figure out farming. Let's see if I take another look. Possibly there could have something interesting around the corner.

TFC: The Fertile Crescent
This one is kind of village building RTS set in bronze age. Basically idea is to gather resources, build infrasture and defenses. And then get wiped out by the enemy. Oh, and you can research technologies too. Might take another look at some point.

John's Tombstone
This one is walking simulator with some light puzzles. And lot of jank. If you wan't to try it out, have some patience with the settings menu, it's bit buggy. Also it's possibly to get stuck. Good news is that you don't have to start all over again as game saves if you have solved puzzle or not. But bad news you have to walk all the way from the beginning to where you were.

Story is kind of heavy though at the same time game doesn't take itself seriously. Really weird one. If that's your thing, try it out.

As for the event itself, surprisingly I have gotten only one missing executable error. Though I have still quite small sample. Four out of 111 that claim to support Linux. And missing executable came actually for game that doesn't actually have Linux version yet (it tried to launch with Proton)

Last edited by Anza on 23 February 2022 at 9:46 pm UTC
Philadelphus Feb 24, 2022
I tried out two more demos last night:

This left me so confused. Mechanically, it's a very close copy of Pikmin (finally, someone made a PC version of it!) where you lead around a group of "tinykin" which you can throw at things to, e.g., move them, but thematically… I feel like I'm missing something, as the presentation almost feels like the protagonist (named *snerk* "Milodane") is some established character in another genre (like a comic book or a cartoon or something) who's been included in this game. But I have no idea if that's actually true or not and I came away utterly confused. It's a really large demo, I gotta say, I played for about an hour and a half and still hadn't finished exploring the truly gigantic first level after the tutorial levels.

I've seen it described as "Frostpunk in space", and while I haven't played Frostpunk to compare I did find it a rather interesting city-builder/boldly-go-where-no-one-has-gone-before simulator. It felt extremely similar to The Wandering Village in some ways, in that both involve a mobile living space where you mainly get new people and resources for your city by finding them in away missions. IXION certainly looks gorgeous; it was really neat being able to scroll around the Solar System where you start and see the planets and Sun.
Anza Feb 24, 2022
Few more from tonight

Grieve (Proton)
This one is third person shooter. Graphics look nice, but otherwise it's horrible. Right in the first mission controls are wonky, there's plenty of invisible walls and mission ends without any other feedback than the mission failed screen.

Based on the window title, games name is MyProject, which explains quite lot.

If Fusion Were That Easy
Retro adventure game. Odd humour easy and easy enough puzzles.

Not wishlist material, but will provide entertainment for a moment. Try Crowns and Pawns first as that is the best adventure game that I have played from this festivals selection.

This one is turn based strategy game and card battler mashup. Tutorial doesn't feel much like card battler, but once you start the actual game, card mechanics come into play. In the tutorial there's not much difference between skills and cards.

If you have played Slay the Spire, some things might feel familiar. What makes Oaken different is that battles happen on hex grid and you can summon allies with the cards.

If these kind of games interest you, it's worth taking a look.

Garbage Crew
This co-operative garbage truck game, bit in style of Overcooked games. To be honest, they are bit confusing garbage trucks with firetrucks. At least in the demo garbage truck has hose attachment and you need to put out fires in addition of emptying garbage containers.

The twist is that garbage truck moves constantly forward and emptying the containers takes lot of time. So doing all the tasks need some co-operation. It seems though that targets might not be adjusted for single player. Or it might be that I need to get much better.

So all in all, this time quality varied quite lot, but at least the best one (Oaken) is close to getting into my wishlist.
Purple Library Guy Feb 25, 2022
Say, I decided to try one of these (Ixion) and when I clicked to download the demo it wouldn't on the grounds that it's Windows only. I presume there's a way to tell it that's OK I'll try it with Proton, but I've never actually tried to do it before. Can any kind soul tell me what I should be doing?
Philadelphus Feb 25, 2022
Quoting: Purple Library GuySay, I decided to try one of these (Ixion) and when I clicked to download the demo it wouldn't on the grounds that it's Windows only. I presume there's a way to tell it that's OK I'll try it with Proton, but I've never actually tried to do it before. Can any kind soul tell me what I should be doing?
I used to have that problem, and then someone here explained how to fix it; I think you go into Settings, then Steam Play, then under Advanced tick the "Enable Steam Play for all other titles" check box, possibly? Maybe tick "Enable Steam Play for supported titles" above it, too, just to be safe. If that doesn't work then I've forgotten.
Anza Feb 26, 2022
Today I have more time, so I could try more demos than during the week.

Elemental War 2
Element War 2 is tower defense game that places emphasis on elements (as kind of can be guessed from the name). Launching demo throws error message about online functionalities right at the start, but as far as I know, it just means that leaderboard don't work.

Demo throws so many hints at once that I missed how the elements are supposed to work. Tutorial also go into state where I could build new towers or scroll.

One you start the main mission things start work better. Defeating elementals in order to unlock new towers and upgrades is nice variation to the tower defense formula. In addition to element, tower types have different range, damage and alike.

Could be fun if they would spend more effort into to the tutorial. Not straight to wishlist material, but there's some potential.

Crystal Plague (Proton)
Crystal Plague is dungeon crawler with very small dungeons. After each dungeon you have to pick a curse, so if you though the game is easy, it's really not. The dungeon end screens are quite buggy. Skill upgrades screen doesn't properly, but if you try to dismiss once, you can move and if you align yourself with the portal correctly, you can progress. Demo has two characters with different set of skills.

First Parsec
First Parsec seems to be space dogfight game. User interface is quite minimum, but you do get status updates when your shields deplete. And missiles won't fire when you have run out of them. Music is also nice.

Problem is that game doesn't bring much new that hasn't done many times in other games. Other games have also many other things going on, First Parsec based on the store page is only about the fights. Though if that's exactly what you're looking for First Parsec might have some potential. Alternatively you could just download the demo if you want to have fun. Just be warned that second mission ramps up the difficulty quite a lot.

Chill Panda
This is something you can find, when you don't look too closely at the store description. I played it anyway.

Chill Panda is game that teaches relaxation to children. I'm looking things from gaming perspective as I'm more familiar with that.

Chill Panda sprinkles in relaxation exercises. Most of the time exercises can be skipped. Otherwise gameplay is mostly about collecting coins (you can buy furniture to your house with them) and doing fetch quests. Also at the same time you can get mildly creeped out with the panda models and voice acting.

Performance is not that good and there are several bugs. Player character went invisible inside the cave, there's at least one quick way to fill the chill meter. Basically when you get out of labyrinth, you chill meter fill up as a reward. The thing is that you can go in and out of the labyrinth and you get the reward every time.

For kids there's potential as they might overlook the issues. And collecting things is kind of fun and for kids it might be something new.

Circle of Kerzoven
Circle of Kerzoven is city builder in similar style than Settlers. It's still in alpha stage and it shows in few things. Tutorial doesn't hold your hand, it just tells what to build. After a while it starts to assume that you know what other buildings you need to build in order to build the building tutorial asks you to build.

I run into issues where I couldn't figure out why buildings weren't producing materials. I could figure out that I can rearrange priorities, but for some reason only for some people. I gave up at that point and there's you can't save in the demo.

All in all, at the moment game seems to be for city builder veterans. Store page mentions deeper nature simulation. That alone might not be enough differentiate it.

If I remember, I should maybe still take another look.

Intruder in Antiquonia
Intruder in Antiquonia is adventure game, though based on demo, focus seems to be on the story. Plotwise it seems to be aiming for bit more serious tone. If you need to fill your amnesia mystery fix, try it out. Plot will keep you hanging though until Q2 though.
Purple Library Guy Feb 26, 2022
Quoting: Philadelphus
Quoting: Purple Library GuySay, I decided to try one of these (Ixion) and when I clicked to download the demo it wouldn't on the grounds that it's Windows only. I presume there's a way to tell it that's OK I'll try it with Proton, but I've never actually tried to do it before. Can any kind soul tell me what I should be doing?
I used to have that problem, and then someone here explained how to fix it; I think you go into Settings, then Steam Play, then under Advanced tick the "Enable Steam Play for all other titles" check box, possibly? Maybe tick "Enable Steam Play for supported titles" above it, too, just to be safe. If that doesn't work then I've forgotten.
That worked. Unfortunately, although it worked, it didn't work. That is, I found the enable-y thing, and it let me download the demo and busily also downloaded Proton and tried to use it and . . . I'm not totally clear from the popups whether it was the demo or Proton itself that didn't happen, but yeah. Demo did not happen. Oh well. Thanks though--clearly in theory you gave me exactly the correct advice.

Last edited by Purple Library Guy on 26 February 2022 at 11:54 pm UTC
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