7 best Steam Next Fest demos you don't want to miss

Lightyear Frontier demo gameplay
Lightyear Frontier (2024) (Image credit: Frame Break, Amplifier Studios)

Steam Next Fest is here! This means there's a buffet of all-you-can-download game demos to enjoy. I love getting to try out a game before I pay full price for it, so I took a deep dive into Next Fest. 

There are a lot of great games to check out, mainly titles that haven't been released yet, which definitely gives you something to look forward to. Next Fest doesn't last forever, though, and many of these demos are only available for a short while. 

Here are the 7 best Steam Next Fest demos you should download while you still can. 

1. Homeworld 3

The Homeworld franchise is making a comeback with an all-new title over 20 years on from the 2003 release of "Homeworld 2." Whether you're new to "Homeworld" games or a veteran who's been waiting for this new release, it's definitely worth trying out the "Homeworld 3" demo. 

In this space strategy game, you take command of your own fleet to save the galaxy's failing Hyperspace Gate Network. In addition to a campaign, there's also a 3-player co-op mode called "War Games" where you and your friends can take on randomized combat challenges. Plus, there are a few PVP modes including 1v1, free-for-all, and team battles. 

"Homeworld 3" comes out on March 8, 2024 on PC. 

2. Pacific Drive

"Pacific Drive" is a supernatural action survival game that puts you in the driver's seat on dangerous forays into the Olympic Exclusion Zone. This strange version of the Pacific Northwest is an abandoned wilderness, so your old station wagon is your only companion. 

On your drives around the Olympic Exclusion Zone, you search for parts and resources to scavenge that allow you to repair and upgrade your car. Along the way, you also search for clues to figure out what happened to the abandoned research site you're exploring. 

"Pacific Drive" is a spooky, exciting driving game that fans of "Stranger Things" and the "Fallout" series will enjoy. It's exciting, but not too scary, making it one of the best Steam Next Fest demos for all types of gamers. 

"Pacific Drive" comes out February 22, 2024 on PC and PS5. 

3. Tales of Kenzera: ZAU

"Tales of Kenzera: ZAU" is a Metroidvania-style platformer that mixes exciting gameplay with a vibrant world and a deep story. You play as the warrior shaman Zau as he fights to reclaim his late father's spirit. The world and story are inspired by Bantu tales and feature several different biomes to explore, all in a stunning, colorful 2.5D art style. 

"Tales of Kenzera: ZAU" uses a pair of masks, Sun and Moon, to let you swap between two ability sets. The whole experience is topped off by an epic score by Nainita Desai. This is definitely one of the best Steam Next Fest demos to try out if you like "Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown" or if you're simply looking for a fresh take on the Metroidvania genre. 

"Tales of Kenzera: ZAU" comes out April 23, 2024, on PC, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and Nintendo Switch

4. Duck Detective: The Secret Salami

"Duck Detective: The Secret Salami" is one of the funniest games featured on Steam Next Fest this year. This quirky mystery game follows a down-on-his-luck detective (who is also a duck) as he unravels the truth behind a sausage conspiracy. It's a cozy, hilarious story that only takes a few hours to complete. 

If you're looking for a chill, funny game to add to your Steam wishlist, check out "Duck Detective". It's like "Zootopia", but with way more duck-related puns. 

"Duck Detective: The Secret Salami" does not have a specific release date yet, but is scheduled to come out in 2024 on PC, Linux, and MacOS. 

5. Dungeonborne

Fans of the dark fantasy genre should be excited about "Dungeonborne." This first person dungeon crawler is all about gathering as many artifacts as you can and escaping alive while fighting off a range of monstrous enemies. If you're a fan of Dark Souls-style games, you'll definitely want to check this one out. 

There are several character classes to choose from so you can customize your play style, including Fighter, Priest, Rogue, Swordmaster, Pyromancer, Cryomancer, and Death Knight. You can play "Dungeonborne" solo or with up to 2 friends on co-op mode. 

"Dungeonborne" does not have a specific release date yet, but is scheduled to come out in 2024 on PC. 

6. Stormgate

"Starcraft" fans should put "Stormgate" at the top of their Steam wishlists. This real-time strategy game has players either fight for Earth or invade it. In a fantasy sci-fi future, you take command of battle mechs for team Earth or lead the monstrous Infernals into battle against Earth. 

There are a few different modes including 3-player co-op vs AI, 1v1, and 3v3. Right now Earth and the Infernals are the only two playable factions, but a third one will be available in the full version of the game. 

"Stormgate" does not have a specific release date yet, but is scheduled to come out in 2024 on PC. 

7. Lightyear Frontier

"Lightyear Frontier" is a relaxing open-world farming game where you use colorful mechs to build a colony on a far-away planet. It's a colorful, upbeat game awash in solarpunk optimism. You don't have to play alone, either. You can build your homestead with up to 3 friends in co-op mode. 

"Lightyear Frontier" is a great pick for fans of "Palia", "No Man's Sky", and the casual farming sim genre. It brings a fresh take to the genre by including sustainability mechanics that reward players for taking care of the ecosystem around their homestead. This is one of the best Steam Next Fest demos to download if you're looking for a more laid-back game to add to your Steam wishlist. 

"Lightyear Frontier" comes out on March 19, 2024 on PC, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox One

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