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Steam Next Fest recap


It seemed out of the blue, but Steam decided to hold a “Next Fest” week of demos and developer streams, showing what’s to come on the seemingly infinite marketplace. I did my due diligence and went and tried what was just a drop of what was offered and here are some impressions of what I was able to play.

Gigabash – This one was something I’ve been keeping an eye on since I first saw it at Pax East 2 years ago (before masks and vaccines were en vogue). It’s an arena brawler with destructible environments, characters who pay homage to various Tokusatsu genres. If words like Godzilla, Ultraman, Power Rangers and Destroy All Monsters bring up happy thoughts, this title is for you!

I Am Your President – Saints Row 4, Metal Wolf Chaos, video games have placed players in the role of the chief executive with bombastic results, but this title takes a more grounded and more realistic approach. Choose your cabinet, make or break your campaign promises, sign bills into law. This title will determine whether your face deserves to be on Mount Rushmore or having you wish your term lasted less than 30 days. Sadly my foray was more of the latter as I couldn’t fulfill sending a man to Mars because I valued life too much and my attempt to quell an outbreak of affluenza resulted in crashing the economy. Maybe the job is harder than I thought…

Super Catboy – The title is quite apt, you do play as a cat boy, but I’m not sure what makes you so “Super”. Maybe it’s aping the naming convention found during the 16 bit era as visually the game looks like it could fit in during the days of the SNES. Make your way through beautifully animated levels as you collect coins, pieces of a gold maneki-neko statue and teach many bad dogs a lesson.

Beat Hazard 3 – Beat Hazard holds the distinction of being one of the first titles to grace my Steam library. This rhythm based twin stick shooter will generate enemies and attack patterns based on the song which is used for the level and it can even use your mp3 library to build an endless array of levels, however in the age where everyone streams, who has mp3s? This game will still give anyone prone to seizures quite the episode, so those with the condition, do keep your distance from this one.

Funtasia: Furry Road – Think S(n/m)uggle Truck with an environmental bent. This Trials-like game has you driving around cleaning up the pollution sent to planet Funtasia by the denizens of a neighboring planet. I don’t think this demo was tuned too well as I don’t think it’s meant to be beaten in one run, because it took a nearly fully upgraded car and about 40 minutes to complete the singular track and boss fight of the demo. That’s not to say I didn’t have fun and I certainly enjoyed the trippy yet grotesque art style the game was presented in.

Last Slice – Perhaps the game whose premise made me chuckle the most. In Last Slice, you’re Rosa, a delivery girl who doesn’t do much delivery thanks to the fact that pizza is outlawed. Her life gets a bit more spicy when she teams up with Victor who decides to run an illicit pizza delivery service. Since it’s been outlawed anyone who gets a whiff of a slice will go feral, doing anything to sate their hunger. Think Hotline Miami with a lot less animal masks.

Phantom Breaker: Omnia – I was introduced to the Phantom Breaker IP via the SD-Sidescroller that was released on the Xbox 360 and it seems like it’s been chugging along for the last decade. Omnia is actually an update to a 1v1 fighting game that was released in 2013 (Phantom Breaker: Extras). While execution is simplified (special moves are direction+attack), the game makes up for it with 3 selectable styles which can color the type of defensive techniques and stat differences your character will have. I can see the title finding it’s niche in the FGC and I look forward to seeing tournament footage of this game.

Puck Off – Alliterative name, CHECK! Promises of Violence, CHECK! Intuitive Gameplay…that one sails past the net. My interest in hockey peaked with NHL94/Mutant League Hockey, so whenever a developer promises arcade action with a tinge of violence I’m ready to hit the ice. Puck Off definitely does something unique with it’s tank controls, single character control, and the ability to fling your stick at will, but maybe it’s my own lack of skill, my sessions with the title featured zero goals and zero fights. Spending the game chasing the action and trying futilely starting fights didn’t exactly increase my interest. Although the game’s post-shutdown demo promises some interesting things in the full version. So when the puck is ready to be dropped, I might want to be in the arena.

Beacon Pines – For a game set in a story book world, you would expect a light and airy story, but apparently there’s an unlying layer of darkness in this seemingly peaceful town known as Beacon Pines. The game’s art caught my eye, the storybook aesthetic further piqued my interest and the game mechanics completely hooked me. You control a young orphan, Luka (Dad’s dead, Mom is missing) and a misadventure on the first day of summer will change his and the lives of the citizens of the small industrial town forever. Collect words (Charms) and do something akin to mad libs to make choices in the game (Turning Points). As you find new charms you can revisit situations and find branching paths. A sample will be, you explore the abandoned fertilizer factory alone, or will you have your friend Rolo by your side. Tiny decisions will lead to big consequences. Will Luka discover the truth behind the Foul Harvest or the fate of his parents? I’m chomping at the bit to see how this story ends.

Souldiers – The grunts always have to pay for the failings of those sitting in higher offices. In Souldiers you are a nameless warrior in the Zargaian army, a sudden change in strategy led you to die an ignoble death. You awaken in Terragaya, a realm between life and death. You’re then tasked by the Valkyrie to find the guardian in hopes of joining it’s forces when Ragnarok comes. Souldiers caught my eye because of it’s beautiful artwork and kept me with it’s extremely capable gameplay. It’s one of many metrodvania-ish titles during Next Fest that were definitely installed, but the fact I was aware of it previously led me to boot it up first, thankfully those first impressions proved to be right and I will look forward to any updates I get regarding the progress of this title.

Bio-Gun – Some people will do anything for their pets and DocX takes it to the extreme. After his beloved pooch gets infected with the Dooper virus, he develops a sentient vaccine to fight the virus. You’re Bek, the said sentient virus derived from Pig DNA. Armed with your Cytro Blaster, you will be injected into DocX’s dog to eradicate any trace of the plague in this metroidvania with a tinge of twinstick shooter set in a world similar to Osmosis Jones.

Otherworld Legends – Why only use one character archetype when you can use them all is probably what the developers of Otherworld Legends were thinking when they were developing this title. Swordsman, check, Martial Artist, check, Wizard, why not, if there’s a character archetype it’s in this roguelike dungeon crawler. Although the camera was a little too zoomed into the action for my liking, otherwise it’s a heart pounding experience where you don’t know what the next room holds.

Neon White – Humanity’s dredges are offered an opportunity at salvation, all they have to do is win the Ten Days of Judgment tournament. Slay heaven’s enemies and the one who does the best gets forgiven, can’t question a deal like that. You are the Amnesiac Neon known as White, and you find yourself inexplicably taking part in the tourney. Along the way you’ll run into other Neons who seem to know you when you were still on your mortal plane. Take missions, find and give gifts and learn more about your past. The way the game’s levels are set up I can see it being a speedrunners favorite and a bane for uncoordinated people like myself, however the world that the game presents is fascinating enough that I’ll do whatever I can to pull through.

The “After Hours” Demos

Look, Steam has a lot of these games, and I’m a man, damnit! All I’ll say is both hands were on the keyboard/controller at all times during these demos. Here’s a quick look at some of the age-gated demos that were available during Next Fest.

Pum Pum – Connect 2 (with 3 lines or less) and unlock more saucy art drawn in a style that mimics the works of Sakimi-Chan.

Forever to You – Use a deck of mysterious cards to play a game that will bend any woman to your whims, think Death Note…with mind control and coitus.

Witch of the Mystery Tower – Climb the tower which has haunted your dreams and do non-consensual things to any entity that impedes your progress by beating them in a match three game.

Horney Warp – A loser in the real world gets warped to a fantasy world where he has to rebuild a village with sexy results.

Slimy Sextet – You’re a slime summoned to enact revenge for a breach of contract, hunt down the renegers and bend them to your will. I’m sure it won’t be too hard a task…

Long Hard…Summer – A rare game where the main character isn’t a complete scumbag (although he does pee in the tub) and there’s actually game mechanics.

One man can only do so much (and has only so much hard drive space), so while plenty of new titles was added to my Steam wishlist, even a whooping 7 days wasn’t enough to have me try the sea of the titles that were available. So here is a list of titles that caught my eye and perhaps you dear reader can get a look at, assuming these demos will still be available after the festival is over.

Steam Gift Card – $50 (Video Game)

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