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12 game demos to try before Steam Next Fest ends

Steam Next Fest runs until June 26

Two humanoid beings talking while sitting on a school desk. Image: KO_OP via PlayStation/Twitch
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

Hundreds of video game demos are available to try — for free — on Steam as part of Steam Next Fest. Valve describes the event, which runs from June 19 to June 26, as “a celebration of upcoming games,” and it is certainly that.

It can be overwhelming to navigate the sheer number of demos available, but it’s worth digging through the lists. You’re sure to find something that catches your eye, and there’s no limit to how many games you can install and play. We’ve curated a list of 12 games that we are excited for, but it’s not even close to a complete list of promising games featured in the latest Steam Next Fest.


Venba, from Visai Games, is a narrative cooking game set in the 1980s after an Indian mother moves to Canada with her family. The game centers around cooking puzzles that will restore lost family members and unravel a “story about family, love, [and] loss.” Venba’s release date is set for July 31.

Spirit Swap: Lofi Beats to Match-3 To

From developer Soft Not Weak, Spirit Swap: Lofi Beats to Match-3 To is a puzzle game with a queer, witchy twist. The narrative swirls around the match-three gameplay and lo-fi music. There are dating sim elements, a story, and even a room to decorate. Spirit Swap: Lofi Beats to Match-3 To is expected out in 2023.

Goodbye Volcano High

KO_OP’s Goodbye Volcano High just won the video game prize at the 2023 Tribeca Festival, and now you can play its demo via Steam Next Fest. Goodbye Volcano High is described as a “cinematic narrative adventure” where you play as Fang, a student in their last year of high school. It looks moody, sweet, and sincere. Goodbye Volcano High is out Aug. 29.


Viewfinder is a game about perception and perspective, using photographs to alter an already trippy world. From Sad Owl Studios and publisher Thunderful Publishing, Viewfinder is an innovative game where you’ll use photos to solve puzzles and open up the world. Viewfinder is slated for release on July 18.

Laika: Aged Through Blood

Developer Brainwash Gang describes Laika: Aged Through Blood as a “western-inspired motovania set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.” To that I say: Yes! The beautiful stylized world has a “mother coyote warrior” riding a motorbike and taking on a “endless path of vengeance to take back what her people lost.” Laika: Aged Through Blood is listed as coming soon.

Stellaris Nexus

4X games are known for being long, letting you play for hours (and days and weeks). That’s great and all, but sometimes a contained experience is nice. That’s where 4X game Stellaris Nexus comes in. The sci-fi strategy game is designed to be played in an hour, condensing everything you love about 4X games into a short, pointed, and almost board game-like experience. There’s no release date just yet.

Sticky Business

If you’ve ever wanted to try building a small, creative business, then Sticky Business is for you. The cute, cozy game from Spellgarden Games is a small-business sim built around making stickers. You’ll design, sell, and then pack up orders as you navigate running a cute little shop. Sticky Business is expected out in 2023.

Saltsea Chronicles

From the creator of Mutazione, Die Gute Fabrik’s Saltsea Chronicles is set on the high seas in a “post-flood world.” There’s plenty to explore on the saltsea and lots of people to meet as you make your way through ruins of the old world. Plus, there are cats! Saltsea Chronicles is coming in 2023.

Cart Life

Cart Life is back thanks to a partnership between developer Richard Hofmeier and AdHoc Studio. The acclaimed game disappeared from stores years ago, but it has returned — first as a demo in Steam Next Fest — so players can explore the lives of three street vendors once again. Cart Life is expected to be released in 2023.

Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes - Definitive Edition

Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes - Definitive Edition has it all: puzzle, strategy, and role-playing game elements. The game was first released in 2009 by Capybara Games, and the definitive edition arriving July 20 combines the original game with its DLC, new character art, and “many quality-of-life improvements and an expanded, fully reworked and re-balanced online mode.”

Fortune’s Run

Team Fortune’s Fortune’s Run has a classic first-person-shooter feel with a twist — it’s got a fighting game system. You’ll punch and slash your way through the gritty world while mastering different combos and special moves. Fortune’s Run is out on Sept. 1.

Americas Tower Simulator

Americas Tower Simulator puts you in the seat of an air traffic controller, clearing planes for takeoff and guiding them to their gates. You’ll quickly be spinning multiple plates as you transmit severe weather data, clear the runway of birds, and respond to emergency landings. The immersion is made complete by the game’s use of voice recognition. You’ll have to learn a little jargon, but it’s worth it for the magic of directing planes around the airport with nothing but your voice. Americas Tower Simulator lands sometime in 2023.

Update (June 21): This story has been updated to remove Pacific Drive from the list. Steam did feature the game briefly during the event, but it does not have a demo.

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