The Best Of Steam Next Fest 2021

The Steam Next Fest is over. What were your thoughts? Anything stand out? Here's my best of Steam Next Fest list type thing. Check 'em out.
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I was umming and ahhing whether to do a feature on the best of Steam Next Fest, so rather than waste any more time, let’s begin.

The Steam Next Fest was excellent, but far too many titles to cover alone; still, I did what I could, and this round-up is based on the games I managed to play. There were bound to be others I missed but let’s focus on the ones covered.

All of these games have been covered on my YouTube channel (ack! YT is sooo different to maintaining a website. Do subscribe if you’re feeling charitable). No talking or memes, just brief gameplay to show you what you missed/should go download now.

The Best Of Steam Next Fest

UnMetal

Starting with a highlight of the festival, UnMetal is a stealth parody that sees Solid Snake, and raises him some better cliches. 

UnMetal Preview - X Factor
X Factor. Source: Steam

Yep, forget the fourth wall and all that nonsense, this game from @unepic_fran and Versus Evil is hilarious, and if you have a funny bone and like to punch people on the toilet (maybe you’ve never tried?), UnMetal could be for you. Read the write-up here.

Spirit Of The Island

Lifestyle sims take time, but I have a lot of time for Spirit Of The Island. That is, if I can get off my island and into town to flirt with the locals.

The demo was a good insight into what we can expect from this upcoming title. Saying that, it is available as an Early Access, so if you take a fancy to setting up a self-contained paradise and making some money out of it, this could be your next wishlist title.

Sky Beneath

This third-person action-adventure may split some – not because it’s bad, but shifting gravity on the fly is a bit on par with motion sickness. Even if you have a strong stomach, switching back and forth from the ceiling to the floor, to the wall to the dancefloor – yeah, baby – it can take its toll.

Sky Beneath - Time to explore
Time to explore. Source: Steam

That said, Sky Beneath is a unique game that takes our hero Cassie into an abandoned mine to find some moolah and leave her footprints on the way. It would be a good console game too.

Toem

I love black and white. Yes, I’m a simpleton, but removing colour from everything highlights so many subtleties we may have otherwise missed. They’re so good; you could bottle it or take a picture.

Well, that’s what Toem is. Set forth on the hike of your life, camera in tow as you take snaps of some cosy little vistas, natural wildlife and ghosties too. Don’t worry; you’ll more likely to say “Awwww” than “Aaaarrrgghh!!!”.

Selfloss

Apparently, this is a solo developer doing this work of art – both in terms of the visuals and the concept. It’s all about finding those in need and helping them through their grief.

Selfloss
Selfloss. Source: Steam

Alexander Goodwin’s tale infuses Icelandic and Slavic folklore into Selfloss, where the protagonist – an old man with a stick, selflessly goes around helping those who require it most. Mesmerising.

The Plane Effect

The Plane Effect is no stranger to these digital waters and regularly been covered. When is it out? Is The Plane Effect coming to my PC anytime soon? All the questions I’ve been asking.

The kind folk at PQube released a demo of this animated film – wait – it’s not an animated film? Are you kidding? It really is super stylish, but how will the gameplay be? We’ll find out later this year…

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The Sundew

This is a no-brainer for me; an old school point and click, so it’s definitely going to be a game I’ll be seeking out upon release. While some noobs are waiting for their point and click cherry to be popped by a classic, us veterans can bathe in this promising title from 2054.

The Sundew
The Sundew. Source: Steam

2054? Have they seen the future? Quite possibly as this is a dystopian cyberpunk affair – the demo being a futuristic Gunma in Japan. Been there. Just name dropping to make myself feel relevant. It was a nice place, though we encountered a mini-tornado there. Moving on…

tERRORbane

tERRORbane will test your patience – not in a bad way, but it’s so clever in its dissection of the fourth wall paradigm; you don’t realise that it’s not breaking it down per se but smashing it to smithereens.

It felt like the game was trying a little too hard at times. Still, once you get past the sadistic (fictitious?) developer and his desperation to show you how good his game is and all his hard work, you’ll soon realise that tERRORbane could quite possibly be an indie gem in the making.

Omno

Yet another solo effort that should make everyone feel inadequate and question what they’ve achieved today. Made several cups of tea for your co-workers? That’s nuthin’ – Jonas Manke (with the help from Studio Inkyfox) has created alien worlds!

Omno
Omno. Source: Steam

Omno is fantastic. It was refreshing to experience this Prologue of sorts that features a few graphical tweaks to reflect what we can expect to see in the near future on Steam. Wishlist it.

Mayhem Brawler

Good ol’ side-scrolling brawling. You can’t go wrong with Mayhem Brawler, other than some dodgy accents and overuse of hashtags, but this could be a game that can punch in the same division as Streets of Rage 4. What do you think?

What do I think? Thanks for asking. Well, I could get used to playing a character called Dolphin, and pending I can set up my controller and not cock up with the keyboard as per this videoMayhem Brawler looks pretty cool.

Re:Turn 2 – Runaway

Poor Saki. She’s really having a hard time getting off that train, and it doesn’t help that Sen is a sympathiser for the beast, or as he sees it, the host.

Re-Turn 2
Re-Turn 2. Source: Steam

Don’t let that hold her back, though: she beat it in Re:turn, so no reason why she can’t repeat her success in this retro horror title from Red Ego GamesRe:Turn 2 – Runaway has many improvements to the original, and I can’t wait.

Eggy

Eggs are good for you, and not just because of the nutrients or rubbing them on your skin when you have an allergy to get out of an exam. No. The real reason is eggs are fun.

Take Treasure Island Dizzy – the best one, IMHO (do people still use that? ASL?). It’s not the blondes that have the fun, but the eggs. Eggy is the fun egg in town as they aim to find their mother (chicken or an egg?). It’s guaranteed to test your skills, and I thoroughly enjoyed playing it.

GRIME

Are you fed up with Souls-likes? Not me. GRIME has a few traits that would indicate the sub-genre, but there’s nothing else like it. The closest thing would be Demon Skin, but in GRIME, you have no name and start from the beginning.

GRIME - Gatecrasher
Gatecrasher. Source: PR

Evolving as you go along, there’s no point doing a Johnny-5 and getting your input from books – just smash stuff – enemy stuff. RPG-like progression and a living weapon – what more could a girl want? Really, what? I don’t know what to get her – I think she’d love this…

Justin Wack and the Big Time Hack

Cool name, cool artwork and cool game; Justin Wack and the Big Time Hack is a classic point and click, which is arguably one of the best looking ones out there.

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The humour’s on point, it has all the elements that adventure veterans look for (sorry, I’m speaking for you), and apparently, Ron Gilbert backed it on Kickstarter. I think he’s a singer. The demo is on Steam still so go check it out.

Lost At Sea

No offence Studio Fizbin, but Lost At Sea isn’t the most memorable title. It’s not bad; it’s just not something that stands out. Kickstart the demo as you’re sailing across the ocean, literally facing your fears, and this is a game you won’t forget.

Lost At Sea Preview
Source: Steam

I’ve said it before, Studio Fizbin really is setting the bar for their artistry, and with each new title comes a brand new look, a different genre to what they covered before, and one that taps into your psyche.

The Darkest Tales

Dark variants of children’s fairy tales have been done before, but The Darkest Tales does it well here. Never has a teddy bear been so heroic since Paddington’s hard stare.

Pick up a pair of scissors, let them morph into some dashing blades, then go rescue your owner – starting with that bitch, Riding Hood. Seriously, this was the demo, and you just want to continue to the next fairy tale.

Road 96

Road 96 went from 0-60 in record speed. Not knowing anything until the PR came out, I could not be more excited for this game. It’s massively ambitious, but just from playing the demo, you just know this is going to be a hit.

Fellow gamers, clear a space on your GOTY 2021, as this surely will be an entry at the least. Thousands of paths, no story the same as the last and some genuinely unique arcs make Road 96 one to play. If you didn’t get a chance to play the demo, my gameplay from the Steam Next Fest is below.

Lake

There’s no real order to this list, but what I will say is Lake was my favourite experience. Meredith is quite possibly one of my favourite protagonists of late – all from one demo. She’s made a memorable impression.

Without any smalltown conspiracies, supernatural elements, carjacking or clocktower sniper points (well, maybe in the full game) Lake is incredibly uneventful compared to action titles. However, each character, from the weird old cat lady to the geeky video clerk, or even the estranged relationship with an old best friend from 22 years ago – they’re all oozing with charm. 

Lake PC Preview - Abbey Road
Abbey Road (ish). Source: Steam

It won’t be for everyone, but I can only speak for myself and say that this was a delight to play. Roll on 1st of September.

The Best Of Steam Next Fest Round-Up

Have I missed anything? Undoubtedly. There were a few games on here that I was excited to play, then upon downloading, was a little disappointed that I skimmed over them. Others, I just didn’t have the time to play, and they were removed once the Steam Next Fest ended.

Sable was a game I briefly played. While it looked the part, I found it a little difficult to get into, so moved on to something else. Rainbow Billy and the Curse of the Leviathan was an interesting one. I was holding back from being sick at how cute it all was, but it grows on you and was a hit with my four-year-old.

Misc. A Tiny Tale was excellent. This should have been in my write-up above, but I’m running out of time (nothing life-threatening. That I know of). Let’s just say that it’s a brilliant 3D open-world platformer. Hopefully, it will see a release on consoles as there will be a big demand, methinks.

Captain Bones looks interesting, as does Wales Interactive’s Deathtrap Dungeon: The Golden Room and Night Book, with that bloke off The Bill. There are heaps more titles I didn’t get a chance to play, were removed, or didn’t know about.

Any recommendations? Hit me up on the contact form and let me know – always up for something new.

If you share this, I'll love you forever (ish)