Steam NextFest – February 2023 Edition – Part One

I was way too ambitious this time around, and I knew it. As soon as the NextFest page went live, I started browsing and downloading demos. Before I knew it, I had racked up an obnoxiously large list of 26 demos – way more than I would have been able to get through no matter how much time I had for the project.

As it turned out, I didn’t have much time for Next Fest this time at all. Still, I managed to poke my head into 11 demos long enough to get a sense of them, most of those in the last 24 hours or so of the event. If you missed any of these games during the festival, it’s worth checking to see if the demo is still available – many developers keep them up for a bit after the end of the event – I’m hoping to play one or two more myself before doing part two!

Three minutes is not a long time to spend on a game. However, Sorted! has a pretty basic premise, but with a more-engaging-than-expected gameplay loop. There’s a conveyor belt with trash, and you need to sort it into the proper bins for recycling or disposal. Sounds easy? Maybe.

The first round I failed miserably, mainly because I struggled to identify the items on the belt. The second round went better, and by the third, I was starting to get the hang of combos. It’s definitely a neat little time waster game, something I’d keep an eye out for on a deep discount or in a bundle.

My time with Sushi for Robots wasn’t much longer, but it gave me a feel for the type of puzzles it would feature, and although it seemed like a neat idea and a competent puzzle game, I realized it probably wasn’t going to be for me.

Using the pieces you’re given, you need to make sure every robot gets the appropriate colored sushi plate in a set amount of moves. Although the store page says it “encourages creative problem solving” the puzzles I played through seemed to have only a single set solution. Still, the graphics were downright adorable, and for an enthusiastic puzzle gamer, this might be a bit hit.

Mineko’s Night Market has been on my wish list for over five years now, and for awhile I’d mostly assumed it was abandoned. So I was super excited to have a shot a playing the demo.

Which made it extra disappointing that I really, really didn’t care for it. I maybe could have gotten past the humor I didn’t find particularly amusing, but the mandatory sneaky puzzle section right near the beginning was very frustrating, and I ended up having to force quit because you could not return to menu once you started it. Thanks, but no thanks.

I’ve been a long time fan of the Cook, Serve, Delicious! franchise, so I was excited to see what they’d come up with next. The demo was quite short, and only featured the core game play (no menu selection or even any hint at the overarching story), and it felt like a huge departure from the previous titles.

Cook, Serve, Forever! seems to have parted ways with the varied preparations, and ingredient shortcut memorizations in favor of using just the arrow keys, presumably to make it even more controller-friendly. Initially, I was disappointed, but the concept grew on me, and I feel like even though it’s quite different, it could still be an enjoyable gameplay loop.

Shumi Come Home is an adorable little 3D platforming adventure that I was completely charmed by. It’s super wholesome, with new friends to meet, some of whom will need your help as you try to find your way to where you belong. I don’t expect most players to find it particularly challenging, but if you like games like A Short Hike or Haven Park with lots of exploring and no fail states, you might want to add Shumi Come Home to your wish list.

The Magical Mixture Mill was the game from this batch that kept me playing the longest. In this slow-paced crafting adventure game, you’ve been rescued by the elderly owner of Griselda’s Magical Mixtures, and she’s asked you to help her get her potion shop up and running again. Gather materials to brew potions, and to build up an automated potion making factory. This is definitely one I’d like to pick up when it comes out later this year.

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