If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

The 13 best Steam Next Fest demos you should play this October

Make time for these excellent indies

Indie extravaganza Steam Next Fest is back for another edition today, showering us with hundreds of upcoming game demos to try over the next week. Running from today, October 1st, until Thursday October 7th, the latest Steam Next Fest is positively packed to the rafters with things to play, and we've picked out some personal highlights to help you get started.

From action-packed runnin' and gunnin' and soaring discs catapulting through the cosmos to more relaxed hidden object games and airport fix 'em ups, there's bound to be something here that tickles your fancy. And fear not, we're going to carry on highlighting even more personal favourites over the coming week, too, as there are simply too many good games to shout about in a single list. For now, though, these demos should definitely be some of the first stops on your October Steam Next Fest playlist.


Undungeon

A spooky scene showing three giant serpent monsters in Undungeon

Imogen: Undungeon is a gorgeous isometric game where you play as a big scary character named Void. Despite being made by God and looking like Death Incarnate, Void is surprisingly susceptible to being murderised by scorpions, but he looks cool, so I'll forgive him. The scorpions are some of the first beasts you encounter in a deserty area in the demo, which you're exploring because you're on a mission to help the world after a cataclysmic event made a lot of dimensions go a bit weird. You'll travel through a bunch of strange lands and meet odd alien folk - including an actual game dev at one point whose character pops in to see if you're having a nice time. I was indeed! And I'm sorry for killing you to take your items.

Download the demo on Steam right here.


Airport Renovator

A grassy airport runway from Airport Renovator

Alice B: Though I am still waiting for someone to answer my extremely specific need for a renovator sim game where you do up old white-washed farm houses in the middle of nowhere, the charms of renovating an airport are specific and hilarious. Airport Renovator's demo gives you an abandoned, single strip airport in South America to have a crack at, and I know what I'm investing my money in if I ever get 50k, because apparently you can double your money by doing some weed whacking and dusting the tarmac.

Other extremely pleasing things about this demo: you remove trash by hitting it very hard with an axe, at which point the item in question, be it a stack of cardboard boxes or a load of metal oil drums, will crumble into what looks like sawdust; your supply drop lady/business partner is a lady pilot, but for some reason her in-game portrait is like a sexy cartoon girl, possibly related to Jessica Rabbit.

Download the demo on Steam right here.


Anno: Mutationem

Standing in my cyberpunk apartment in an Anno: Mutationem screenshot.

Alice0: Things I like in games include: 1) 2D characters in a 3D world; 3) not really being sure what a game is; 3) dodge-rolling with a sword. Anno: Mutationem fills a colourful 3D futurecity with 2D characters. I think you can explore fairly freely when not the plot isn't pushing you around? There are people to see and talk to, citylife to watch. And some cats who pushed bottles off a high edge, seemingly with malicious intent. And it has shops. And I've been collecting scrap materials to sell, or to craft. I definitely could buy weapon upgrades, if I had enough money, to use in the side-scrolling combat. Some sort of... action-adventure-explore-o-action-RPG? Dunno. I'm curious! And I do really like the first-person cutscenes where my cyberlady still has Bernband-esque spritehands.

Download the demo on Steam right here.


Hidden Office

A cartoon office scene from Hidden Office

Ed: Hidden Office tasks you with finding hidden objects scattered around a little office diorama. You can flip and rotate each office in search of things like scissors and staplers and plants and it is nice. The music is tinkly winkly and occasionally a cat will grace your presence. Click on a cat and you'll add it to a card collection. One of them has a bulldog's face, which is disconcerting. For a short demo, Hidden Office has some neat levels and provides a pleasant diversion from your busy day (even if it's based in an office). The commute is short, the work is sweet, job's a good'un.

Download the demo on Steam right here.


Soda Crisis

A tiny man fights a giant robot spider in Soda Crisis

Katharine: There are plenty of run 'n' gun games on Steam these days, but few manage to combine slick, fast-paced action with the acrobatic leaps and bounds of a creature like Ori from Ori And The Blind Forest. Soda Crisis, however, is one such game. Your bald human prisoner character may not look like they're particularly graceful, but by the end of the demo I was running up walls, jumping and diving around the place with my grappling hook, blasting enemies left, right and centre and feeling god damn powerful in the process.

Strangely, the first part of the demo feels like it's been taken from later on in the game, giving you a glimpse of what's to come in this strange, soda-bereft world before zapping you back to the beginning where you're trying to break out of an underground lab. The structure of the lab's challenge rooms feels oddly reminiscent of Portal and Stealth Bastards, only here you're working out the best order to shoot your heavily-armed targets instead of sneaking and chucking around companion cubes. It also has a neat energy-based upgrade system that lets adjust your playstyle, giving the option to your attack power, movement speed or sacrifice shooting up or down for more powerful horizontal bullet damage to name just a few of the abilities I saw. So don't be fooled by the name. Soda Crisis feels like it could be something very special indeed.

Download the demo on Steam right here.


Exo One

A flying disc soars across the sky in Exo One

James: Exo One was announced well over four years ago, a wait that would usually leave me hungry for more info, but the sense of mystery that this demo evokes is so intoxicating it’s overridden my habitual need for spoilers. Here’s what we know: you control a little spacefaring orb, zipping around alien planetscapes by adjusting how closely the orb adheres to gravity. You’ll get a taste of this intensely satisfying mix of exploration and momentum-based, almost Tribes-like movement in the demo, complete with some achingly atmospheric sound work and the aforementioned raising of questions. Questions like what are these obelisks for? Where am I going next? And most importantly, when can I play more of this?

Download the demo on Steam right here.


Startup Panic

An office scene from Startup Panic

Hayden: When I was younger I absolutely adored Game Dev Tycoon. I only shy away from it now because if I started playing, I’d never stop. Startup Panic sunk its claws in just as deep, as it captured the same part of my heart. After playing for an hour or two, I had a big, silly grin on my face as my team of mini devs pumped pixelated blood, sweat, and tears into their latest website feature. The worst part was actually when the demo came to an abrupt end, so I went and bought it on the Epic Games Store (where it’s been available for the past year).

Download the demo on Steam right here.


Brocula

A man stands looking at a pixel art garden in Brocula

Rebecca: Stardew Valley, but make them vampires! Despite the (in my opinion) deeply unpromising title, that's the central premise of Brocula, a gentle pixel-art farming sim. Yes, it's mostly another Seasons of Harvest Valley type deal tasking you with resurrecting an abandoned ancestral farm, but the bumbling 500-year-old protagonist is straight out of What We Do In The Shadows, and who could resist that? Certainly not me.

The one-hour demo doesn't stray very far from the formula — it starts with you talking to the town mayor and then, if you're like me, you get sucked into playing a mildly frustrating fishing mini-game over and over despite it being completely optional. It's all comfortingly familiar for the most part, but if you've been looking for a new angle from which to view the farming sim genre, I recommend this quirky twist on the premise.

Download the demo on Steam right here.


SpiderHeck

Two spiders duel with lightsabers in Spiderheck

Ollie: Ten seconds after loading up the SpiderHeck demo for the first time, I understood exactly what the game was about. By 15 seconds in, the biggest smile had spread across my face as I catapulted my lopsided ragdoll spider through the air at tremendous speeds. SpiderHeck is a couch co-op game all about swinging around as a goofy neon arachnid, clambering along walls and ceilings, and launching yourself (along with missiles, laser swords, and all sorts of other ridiculously oversized weapons) at other players. There's a wave survival mode for co-op play, but the true strength of the game is definitely in the hilarious seconds-long PvP fights that culminate in limbs flying across the screen.

Download the demo on Steam right here.


Hirilun

A monochrome, first-person view of an urban alleyway from above in Hirilun

Ed: Hirilun's a first person parkour game and the demo has you jumping, gliding, and dashing through a beautiful black and white city. Some maps have you tumbling through pipes, then clambering back up towers. Others see you striding across rooftops or sliding down ramps. All of them are fantastic concrete jungle gyms. And crucially, there's a great sense of fluidity to your movements. If you'd like to feel very athletic and very cool, you should give this a try.

Download the demo on Steam right here.


Death Becomes You

Four characters from Death Becomes You

Rebecca: There are, as you'd expect, many great-looking visual novels being showcased as part of this event, but few jumped out at me quite as forcefully as Death Becomes You, a sapphic murder mystery set in a magical university. "So kind of like… Wicked retold via Danganronpa?" was my immediate thought, and because I love both those things, of course I had to check it out.

Despite the cool premise I doubt this one is going to do much to convert people who dislike visual novels (personally I love them, but I do get it). But if you're into them, then the writing here is pretty tight, the characters have a lot of potential, and the sprite animations and background music are really nicely done.

Download the demo on Steam right here.


APICO

An overhead view of a boy running around a forested village in APICO

Ollie: APICO is a lovely little 2D crafting and simulation game about finding, breeding, and caring for various different species of bees. After an introduction that gives off strong Stardew Valley vibes, you're let loose in a very pretty - and startlingly large - map filled with trees to be chopped, people to meet and trade with, and bees to keep. You're guided through the opening stages by a very comprehensive book of tutorials and starting quests that teach you how everything works, making for a remarkably frustration-free experience. The best part though is how satisfying it is to chop down trees. Almost too satisfying. Forget the bees: I'm gonna become a walking ecological disaster mowing down whole forests with nothing but my axe and a crazed grin on my face.

Download the demo on Steam right here.


Dextram

A small pink, arrow-shaped ship flies through a sea of glowing yellow enemies in Dextram

James: Dextram is a 2D arcade shooter in which you can’t shoot. In fact, outside of some rare power-ups, you can’t do anything except turn to the right. This sounds simplistic, and it is, but when your primary means of attack is baiting enemies into smashing into each other, figuring out how to clear a wave becomes downright cerebral. Dextram doesn’t force you into finding the perfect movement pattern, though – improvisation will get you far as well, and even if it doesn't, the abrupt music cut on death adds a comedic sweetness that makes failure easier to swallow.

Download the demo on Steam right here.

Tagged With

About the Author

Katharine Castle avatar

Katharine Castle

Editor-in-chief

Katharine is RPS' editor-in-chief, which means she's now to blame for all this. After joining the team in 2017, she spent a lot of time in the RPS hardware mines, testing all the bits that go inside our PCs, but now she gets to write about all the lovely games we play on them, too. She'll play pretty much anything she can get her hands on, and is very partial to JRPGs and the fetching of quests.

Support Rock Paper Shotgun

Subscribe and get access to supporter-only articles, an ad-free reading experience, free gifts, and game discounts. Your support helps us create more great writing about PC games.

See more information

More Features

Latest Articles

Rock Paper Shotgun logo

We've been talking, and we think that you should wear clothes

Total coincidence, but we sell some clothes

Rock Paper Shotgun Merch