Don't go setting your sights on that big summer sale just yet. Keep your wallet in your pocket because Steam Next Fest just kicked off. That means for the next week you'll be able to download and try free demos for all manner of upcoming games on Steam. It's a huge collection, as past Steam demo bonanzas have been, with over 700 game demos to choose from this time. It's just launched, so here are a couple quick picks to get you started.
Valve previously laid out what you can expect from Next Fest this time around. Game demos on offer are all upcoming (not trials for ones currently on sale) and must be planning to launch prior to January 2022. Delays do happen, of course, but in theory you should be trying out things you'll be able to get your hands on in the next six months. They're all fresh too, as Valve say only games that haven't appeared in their prior demo events are eligible.
Even after narrowing the entry pool, Valve have announced that's more than 700 demos for you to scour through. As ever, my advice is to pick just one that looks nice and commit to playing it so you don't overwhelm yourself. With one done, you may just find you've got time for more after. Alice B is preparing a roundup to help you select some good choices, but here's a couple from me in the meantime.
As mentioned last week, silly spy VR simulation I Expect You To Die 2 is on the roster. The original IEYTD is one of the best VR games according to the RPS hivemind. Given that, you headset owners out there might like the chance to see how the sequel stacks up. Here it is on Steam.
Another option is the demo for crafting and town sim My Time At Sandrock. I quite enjoyed its predecessor My Time At Portia even if it is a bit on the grind-y side of Stardew-adjacent sims. Whereas Portia was a sweet little island, Sandrock is a desert town complete with trains. Developers Pathea Games say that this demo is about a four hour introduction to the game's story, but doesn't include interior decorating, dating, or dungeon crawling. You can find it here on Steam.
Last up before I let you go is what I think will be my personal pick to try this week. Take a look at photography adventure Toem.
"Set off on a delightful expedition and use your photographic eye to uncover the mysteries of the magical Toem in this hand-drawn adventure game," say developers Something We Made. "Chat with quirky characters, solve their problems by snapping neat photos, and make your way through a relaxing landscape!" The developers also add that you'll be able to transition your demo save file to the full game when it launches.
I'm rather thrilled that photography adventures are elbowing their way into becoming a little genre of their own and I particularly like the look of Toem. The greyscale palette is nice. I'm also a real sucker for 3D environments that feel like dioramas. It's so swell that you walk about the world from the three-quarter perspective and then snap into a first-person view to take a photo. There's even something called a "community card" that looks a bit like a stamp rally quest log.
Yup, Toem is going to be my one pick for the week. Wish me luck. You can find it over here on Steam.
Steam Next Fest has just launched and will run through Tuesday, June 22nd at 6pm BST (10am PDT). Here's the main Steam Next Fest hub where you can browse everything available by genre.