Best of Steam Next Fest 2023

As I finally rolled credits on The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom this week, I wondered if any game I play from now on would pale into comparison. Thankfully, I got to try out some banging demos at Steam Next Fest 2023. From becoming a hotel-maid-cum-noir-detective to station master in an idyllic rural village, here’s our best of Steam Next Fest:

Steam Next Fest

Steam Next Fest 2023 The Invincible

The Invincible

The Invincible has been on my radar for a while now so I was over the moon to get my mitts on the demo. The game itself is an adaptation of Stanislaw Lem’s novel of the same name – a hard sci-fi world that follows the story of scientist Yasna as she explores the strange planet of Regis III.

First off, the visuals here are stunning – ringed planets hang in the sky, cutting chasms of light through the dusty, red atmosphere that dazzle and refract off your space helmet visor. There’s a big Atompunk vibe here, too, as you turn dials on bulky, pre-transistor gadgets clad in 60s’ orange Bakelite.

Again, the demo was quite brief (and a little light on gameplay) but the world-building and storytelling alone made The Invincible a no-brainer for my Steam Wishlist.

Steam Next Fest 2023 This Bed We Made

This Bed We Made

The 1950s hotel room that you’re tasked with cleaning is everything you’d want it to be – wood panelled walls, a black and white TV set in oak veneer and a makeshift darkroom lined with creepy photos of you going about your duties. Yes, it’s This Bed We Made – an upcoming third person mystery adventure where you play as Sophie, a nosy chambermaid who loves nothing more than rifling through your stuff.

Beginning with what must be a nod to the Arctic Monkeys (which tbh is enough for me to instantly hit wishlist), you guide Sophie around room 505 as she plumps pillows, empties bins and rummages through the underwear drawer. As you interact with the guest’s personal junk, Sophie builds up a series of clues about the room’s inhabitant; clues that lead to the location of a key to a locked trunk, which in turn helps you decipher the code to the room’s safe.

The demo, albeit brief, promises a game which has everything a good mystery should have – a sinister conspiracy, a noir-drenched atmosphere, and a sassy sidekick hotel receptionist. Demo available now until the end of Steam Next Fest 2023.

Steam Next Fest 2023 Station to Station

Station to Station

Aside from the inimitable Francis Bourgeois, trains ain’t really my bag. But I’m happy to make an exception for Station to Station – a super chill, minimalist game (with serious Dorfromantik vibes) about placing stations and building railways to connect disparate rural buildings to create a flourishing voxel village.

You might begin with a wheat field (careful, Theresa) in the far corner of the map, and a flour mill and bakery at the other. Your job is to place a station outside each building and then lay out your track with a satisfying click and drag across the terrain. Doing so not only nets you some sweet cashola from the now-thriving bakery sales but it also floods the area with vibrant flora and fauna which eventually fills the map and completes the level.

While there are optional strategic missions to complete (such as ending the level with a certain amount of money left), Station to Station can be played simply for the same pure joy that choo-chooing a wooden train around a toy track can give.

Steam Next Fest 2023 En Garde!

En Garde!

Fight me! No, seriously, please fight me – I’ve just found the first game ever where I can actually parry with consistency and now, I feel like I could take on all the Soulsbourne games using only an EyeToy.

Ahem. Anyway, yes, where were we? Ah, yes – En Garde! is an upcoming fighting game set in the vibrant, cartoonish streets of a vaguely Spanish settlement.  As legendary swashbuckler Adalia de Volador, you’ll swing across rooftops and slash through banquet halls on the tail of a mysterious masked swordsman.

The beauty of En Garde! is its combat. Simple to learn, and a little bit more complicated to master, but always fast, fair, and a ton of fun. A left-click of the mouse swings your sword, for example, while a well-timed right-click parries your opponent, opening them up to a counterattack.

 The demo quickly introduces you to using objects in your environment to disperse larger groups of enemies – such as kicking a barrel into a dude’s face or crushing them under an Acme style weapon rack. It’s all good, silly fun, but the added precision in combat elevates the game above a simple hack n’ slash affair.

Steam Next Fest 2023 Thronefall


Here’s another title that’s the digital equivalent of mainlining dopamine – Thronefall – touted by the developer, GrizzlyGames, as a minimalist strategy game without the unnecessary headache. And they’re not wrong. Gone are the esoteric research trees, gone are the gazillions of resources to manage. Instead, in their place is a tower defence/hack n’ slash mash-up that has the sheer addictiveness of Vampire Survivor with the lo-fi strategy of the Kingdom series.

In fact, if you’ve played any of the games in the Kingdom franchise, you’ll understand how Thronefall works. Essentially, you, the King, gallop around your kingdom spending gold to construct buildings that give you an income (houses, flour mills) and defences (archery towers, barracks) in preparation for the wave of enemies that attack you at night.

Providing you survive until the morning, you’ll gain gold from the spoils of last night’s battlefield, as well as any income due from the castle. Then, you can gallop around your kingdom spending more gold to upgrade your defences and bolster the coffers – rinse and repeat. *Chef’s kiss*.