14 Steam Next Fest demos to play before the week is out

Steam Next Fest
(Image credit: Valve)

The Steam Next Fest is a fantastic opportunity to dive into a plethora of game demos for literally hundreds of upcoming PC games. However, that does mean that it can be difficult to know what to play during the event, which runs from October 3-10. You can filter by games you've wishlisted, or by genre, or you can take some tips from us, as these are the 14 Steam Next Fest demos I think are more than worth your time.  

1. Season: A Letter to the Future

Season: A letter to the future

(Image credit: Scavengers)

Demo length: ~20 mins
Full release date: Early 2023

Originally revealed back at the Game Awards in 2020, this is actually the first time anyone's actually been able to play Season: A Letter to the Future. In-development at Scavengers Studio, this is a third-person adventure where you're documenting the end of the world with your camera and audio recorder. This demo is focused mainly on how these two tools work together to build out your journal and the game's narrative. It doesn't necessarily give you the widest sense of the game – which is actually a bicycle road trip – although there is a little tease at the end. But, there's plenty here to get you excited for this one. 

Play the Season demo now

2. Thirsty Suitors

Thirsty Suitors

(Image credit: Annapurna Interactive)

Demo length: ~30 mins
Full release date: TBC

Okay, this isn't a new demo, but if you haven't tried Thirsty Suitors yet you really need to. You play as Jala, a young lady who's returning to her hometown after a messy breakup. However, her relationship with her parents and her sister seems a little fractured, and she's unexpectedly going to have to face every ex-partner she's had since third grade. Its story is told through brilliantly zany turn-based battles that involve conjuring your mother and unleashing thirst attacks, along with skateboarding and cooking. This demo shows off the brilliant battling mechanics and just a smidgen of skateboarding action, but there's so much to love here that you'll be sad when the demo comes to an end on quite the cliffhanger.

Play the Thirsty Suitors demo now

3. The Knight Witch

Metroidvania adventure game The Knight Witch

(Image credit: Team 17)

Demo length: ~45 mins
Full release date: November 29, 2022

Don't let The Knight Witch's cutesy looks deceive you, there's a brilliant little Metroidvania here, where you play as a witch, who's also a knight – as the title may suggest. The demo here gives you what I assume is the opening slice of the game, with a boss fight and several smaller sub-boss battles. You get a good sense of the gameplay, which combines normal magic attacks with a card system that gives you additional special powers. It's just tough enough in our opinion, especially for such an early portion of the game. One that might not be on your radar, but absolutely should be.

Play The Knight Witch demo now

4. Storyteller

Graphic novel-esque narrative game, Storyteller

(Image credit: Annapurna)

Demo length: ~20 mins
Full release date: TBC

A new one from publisher Annapurna, Storyteller is a bit of an unusual text adventure. Each level is a puzzle of sorts, where you must create comic-book-esque story panels using characters and scenarios to tell a specific story like "drinks poison out of a heartbreak". Sounds a bit bizarre, but it's an ultra-satisfying little puzzler. The demo gives you a good slice of the game – the first three chapters in fact – that really does sell its unique gameplay. Wordplay, puzzles, and just a smidgen of silliness: Storyteller is a fun one. 

Play the Storyteller demo now

5. The Entropy Centre

The Entropy Centre

(Image credit: Playstack)

Demo length: ~40 mins
Full release date: November 3, 2022

The Entropy Centre claims it captures the feeling of playing Portal for the first time, and honestly, it's not wrong. It's not portals here, but instead a gun that lets you play with time. Certain objects can be manipulated and then controlled using this special gun – which also talks to you, and teases you as you play. For example, moving a box between two switches repeatedly can then be used to trigger doors as you move through a space with your gun. Like Portal, each puzzle is a self-contained room or series of smaller rooms, and functions as a test. It's brilliantly done, with enough of its own sense of self to keep the constant Portal comparisons just at bay. 

Play the Entropy Centre demo now

6. Dredge

Dredge, a horror fishing game

(Image credit: Team 17)

Demo length: ~40 mins
Full release date: TBC 2023

Dredge is a horror fishing game. Let's just let that sink in for a minute. While it might not be a genre clash you'd expect, it works surprisingly well. You play as a fisherman who's come in to replace someone who's seemingly gone missing – or something worse. You essentially play as the fishing boat itself, which can be upgraded and kitted out with additional equipment like rods suitable for shallow fishing or better lanterns to guide you through the nights. You fish, talk to residents in the towns you dock at, and try to survive whatever it is that watches you through the darkness. Something might slither on board and corrupt your catch, while something else could attack your hull in the night and risk losing precious cargo. It's a constant balance and the 40-odd-minute run time of this demo has made us desperate for more.

Play the Dredge demo now

7. Forever Skies

Forever Skies

(Image credit: Far From Home)

Demo length: ~20 minutes
Full release date: TBC 2022

Forever Skies is a survival game with a difference in that you're returning to Earth after some ecological disaster that's rendered the surface uninhabitable. Instead, you'll have to build yourself an airship that'll allow you to float above the toxic smog and figure out how to stave off hunger and thirst. Building water purification options, discovering ways to catch creepy bugs to cook and eat, and also how to grab resources from the debris piles that drift past your window are all part of the fun. This is a timed demo, so you may not get far on your first playthrough. But there's a certain joy to replaying this one once you've got the systems nailed to see how far through the sky you can get in the allotted time. 

Play the Forever Skies demo now

8. The Garden Path

The Garden Path

(Image credit: carrotcake)

Demo length: ~30 mins
Full release date: TBC 2022

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, now it's time for everyone to have a wander down The Garden Path. This beautifully artistic title is all about working hard to bring a garden back to life. It's a slow burn, involving lots of life sim busywork and talking with the residents. But there's also a little mystery to solve, friends to make, and things to prune. It's an interesting game, not quite another game like Stardew Valley, but there are touches there and a sprinkling of Animal Crossing too. But it's really doing its own thing too, with a unique fishing mini-game and lovely animation touches – particularly in the way you stack items. 

Play The Garden Path demo now

9. Wildfrost


(Image credit: Chucklefish)

Demo length: Multiple hours
Full release date: Winter 2022

Wildfrost's demo will last you a pretty chunky six hours if you let it, and it's not difficult to do. It's a brand new card battler with an almost seasonally appropriate wintery theme. But, it's also got a few unique elements, like avoiding any energy systems and instead focusing on turns and timings. It quickly becomes wonderfully complex, and it's just delightful to look at, with lovely animation touches that really highlight its snowy visuals. You can modify your cards with charms, which are actually physical things you can attach to your cards, and can change damage types or add extra attacks per turn. That's not unique to this deck builder of course, but it's a lovely way to implement those upgrades. 

Play the Wildfrost demo now

10. Floodland


(Image credit: Vile Monarch)

Demo length: ~1 hour
Full release date: November 15, 2022

Just a few months after its debut at our own Future Games Show, Floodland has an excellent playable demo at Steam Next Fest that really shows off its city builder mechanics. This one takes place after the point of no return with the climate crisis, so hopefully doesn't provide us a rather bleak look at our future. There are four scenarios to try out, so although developer Vile Monarch says it lasts around an hour, there's plenty of replayability here. You'll have to figure out how to keep your survivors fed and watered, and start to rebuild some semblance of a home out of rubbish – literally. Start small but you'll soon be pushing out further and further from your scrabble of tents to find remnants of civilization left behind, digging through ruins and wreckages to find anything useful. There are leadership decisions to be made too, so there's a nice touch of Frostpunk here too, just a little less cold. 

Play the Floodland demo now

11. Lego Bricktales

LEGO Bricktales screenshot

(Image credit: Thunderful Games)

Demo length: ~1 hour
Full release date: October 12, 2022

With just a week to go until release, this is the perfect time to dive into this pretty chunky demo of Lego Bricktales. This new title from developer Clockstone is an adventure, where you'll have to craft creations out of Lego to solve environmental puzzles, whether that's bridges, staircases, monkey statues, or gyrocopters. Seeing what you put together with bricks come to life in the game is never not satisfying (and even sometimes embarrassing if what you've made is the opposite of a masterpiece), and it's a brilliant new Lego experience. Each area you explore is a glorious Lego diorama too, with the occasional side quest in amongst the main story. It's got us incredibly excited for the full release.

Play the Lego Bricktales demo now

12. Aquatico


(Image credit: Digital Reef Games)

Demo length: Multiple hours
Full release date: Q4 2022

Okay, the fact I've put two city builders on this list maybe speaks volumes about my game preferences, but its also because both Floodland and Aquatico were too brilliant not to mention. And they're very, very different. Aquatico is a city builder set on the bottom of the ocean. So while you're trying to provide your citizens with homes, oxygen, and things to eat, you've got giant jellyfish and other aquatic creatures floating around. It's oddly peaceful, even when you're wrangling with making your oil pipelines as neat and organized as they can be. 

Play the Aquatico demo now

13. Inkulinati 

Inkulinati, ink-based strategy game

(Image credit: Daedelic Entertainment)

Demo length: ~1 hour
Full release date: 

Inkulinati feels like a card battler, but there's not a card in sight. Instead, as the name suggests, its turn-based combat is happening in the pages of a book. It's like you're playing a game in the margins of the Bayeux Tapestry here, but with a lot more shit slinging and farts. You are in control of not only a team of attack animals – whether that's a hare with a spear or a healing bishop cat – but also your Tiny Inkulinati (the in-game representation of you) has moves of their own. You can jab an enemy's character with your giant finger, or move objects and foes around the screen for example, but the enemy Inkulinati can do it too, so battles can become mad and unpredictable in the best of ways. This one is really unique.

Play the Inkulinati demo now

14. Flat Eye

Flat Eye

(Image credit: Raw Fury)

Demo length: ~15 minutes
Full release date: 

I love it when a management sim has a really strong storyline – in fact I think it doesn't happen enough. But, that's exactly what we're getting from Flateye. You don't get tonnes of story in the demo, but there's a load of hints as to what the larger narrative at play is. You're essentially managing a gas station, but one from way, way in the future – where toilets can harvest personal data and plugging waste from those same toilets into food machines that need bio-matter to function. Is this… recycling? It's certainly not your average management sim, and I can't wait to see more from this one.

Play the Flateye demo now

Sam Loveridge
Global Editor-in-Chief, GamesRadar+

Sam Loveridge is the Global Editor-in-Chief of GamesRadar, and joined the team in August 2017. Sam came to GamesRadar after working at TrustedReviews, Digital Spy, and Fandom, following the completion of an MA in Journalism. In her time, she's also had appearances on The Guardian, BBC, and more. Her experience has seen her cover console and PC games, along with gaming hardware, for a decade, and for GamesRadar, she's in charge of the site's overall direction, managing the team, and making sure it's the best it can be. Her gaming passions lie with weird simulation games, big open-world RPGs, and beautifully crafted indies. She plays across all platforms, and specializes in titles like Pokemon, Assassin's Creed, The Sims, and more. Basically, she loves all games that aren't sports or fighting titles! In her spare time, Sam likes to live like Stardew Valley by cooking and baking, growing vegetables, and enjoying life in the countryside.