Steam Next Fest – February 2023 Edition – Part Two

I may have been disappointed with my time management during this iteration of Next Fest, but I certainly wasn’t let down by the quantity and quality of demos that were available. If you’ve been checking out these three times a year events, you may notice there’s not a lot of overlap and that’s by design. Steam has decided that each game can only participate in one Next Fest prior to releasing. Somehow, this hasn’t seem to have much impact on the total number of demos available, and despite originally downloading more than twice the number I managed to play during the event, there were still quite a few that caught my eye that I knew I wouldn’t have time for.

Although it’s probably too late to play these demos for yourself, some developers have left their demos up, so it’s worth checking out if something seems right up your alley.

A Guidebook of Babel is a quirky time-manipulation puzzle adventure that looks like it has a lot of potential. Figure out where exactly things go sideways, and then rewind time to set things right. It looks like a fun spin on your classic point-n-click adventure backdrop.

My biggest gripe with Mika and the Witch’s Mountain was that, despite being playable with mouse and keyboard, all the tutorials were for a controller, so there was a lot of trial and error in trying to figure out how to make it work. But this cozy adventure about delivering packages and trying to find your way back to the place where you think you belong looks delightful.

Lakeburg Legacies is a charming little city builder with a twist – your towns need the power of true love in order to run and grow! Study your townsfolk’s likes & dislikes in order to find them the perfect match in a Tinder-inspired interface, and then take your new couple on a date to test their compatibility.

This one went right on my wish list, and may even be a day one purchase for me.

Playing the demo of Horticular brought to mind an old favorite series – Viva Pinata. Although Horicular has a simpler pixel art style, the gameplay is similar. Make over an abandoned garden, figure out how to bring back your animal friends, and make things beautiful and vibrant again.

There are plenty of goals, but also a lot of space to just be creative with the space and tools you’re given. It’s shaping up to be a lovely story-light gardening sandbox.

I wanted to like I Am Future a whole lot more than I did. I found the tutorial seriously lacking, and the humor wasn’t really to my taste. Although the concept of a cozy post-apocalyptic survival game is right up my alley, the actual experience of playing didn’t live up to my expectations.

There’s still a few months before the anticipated release date for the developers to clean up the rough edges (and to seriously rethink the fishing mechanics), but for me, I’ll be waiting for a deep discount or a bundle on this one.

Desynced was – for me – the big hit of this Next Fest. This sci-fi city builder leans heavily into automation and programming mechanics, and while it is admittedly a bit fiddly, even the early game is quite enjoyable.

The developers have said that the Early Access release, which will feature only sandbox gameplay, isn’t too far off now, and multiplayer will be in the game from the start. This one has potential to be a co-op night hit for me.

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