Don’t Miss These Titles During Steam Next Fest

Don't Miss These Titles During Steam Next Fest

Steam’s Next Fest has been an incredible boon for both developers looking to showcase their upcoming indie games, as well as for players looking to taste a large swatch of neat experiences with no costs involved. The catch is that Next Fest demos are only available for a limited time, so you only have so many hours to decide what’s worth your time. Lucky you have me to point you in the right direction then! 

The next Steam Next Fest runs from February 21st through to 28th, so get in while the gettin’s good.

Rogue Command

Pitched as a “classic real-time strategy game fused with modern roguelike deck-building”, Rogue Command aims to shift the traditionally slow RTS into a modern, trend heavy setting. I would honestly not focus too much on the “deck building” aspect when gobbling up that gamer jargon soup, and more on the roguelike moniker.

Rogue Command starts you out with the basics – crystal collecting, unit building and enemy skirmishes – and pushes you to play more aggressively than the genre is known for. Zurg rushing is not only optimal, it’s necessary. Build up armies as quickly as you can, then crush your opponent. 

Rounds are meant to be finished within 15 minutes, with progression through a node-based map between skirmishes determining what next you’ll face. The demo doesn’t offer the choice, unfortunately, but it’s easy to see how this will play out. Post battle you’ll start building out the equivalent of a loadout – deciding on types of units, what bonuses go with which ones, and what overall perks your run might make use of.

For those into the idea of RTS’s but no longer have time to dedicate to multi-hour matches, Rogue Command really seems to be shaping up to fit a particularly underserved niche. I’m definitely keen to check out more come full release sometime later this year.

Winter Ember

Who’s up for some ImSim stealth action? Water arrows, hiding bodies; maybe some sound and vision detection meters? Winter Ember is pulling hard on the Theif’s of yore – right down to the gruff male protagonist – just from an indie, isometric perspective.

After quite the lavish, well done and somewhat gruesome opening animation, the demo for Winter Ember plops you on the grounds of a mansion tightly patrolled by British guards. There’s plenty of interactivity with the environment to sneak your way through the area – peeking through doors to make sure you don’t barge in on a group of guards, blowing out candles to stay hidden under the cover of darkness, and of course the aforementioned water arrows. There’s just enough interactivity to perform some cool tricks without overwhelming you with options – yet, at least.

The biggest takeaway from the demo is, you don’t really want to get into a fight if you can avoid it. Sure, you have a sword and can defend yourself – there’s a whole system of dodging, parrying, blocking and the like built-in – but it’s more “mostly functional” and less “expert swordsman”. In some ways it of course makes sense, but some ability to hide, sneak around and backstab your pursuer might be ideal.

Forest Grove

There’s a lot going on around Forest Grove. Set up as a classic murder mystery, the basic gist of what you will be doing is wandering through an elaborate mansion Gone Home-style, rummaging through the lives of a wealthy family in search of clues on the whereabouts of Zooey Kunstimatigaard – heiress to a billion-dollar tech fortune.

The wrinkles come about in exactly how you are going about your search. See, you aren’t actually searching the physical house itself – other a digital recreation of the house based on data pulled from internet-connected devices. Set several decades ahead of today, there is of course all sorts of sci-fi gadgetry to pull information from, prime of which being little floating drone cameras that conveniently play snippets of conversations to give just the right amount of information for you to continue pulling the mystery thread.

Forest Grove is also not just interested in the mystery itself, but the political world this clearly dystopian tech is a part of. Before even beginning, you will find story snippets alluding to the fact that this digital recreation tech has been explicitly outlawed for the purpose you are using it before it’s even had a chance to destroy the world – the unit you are using is the alpha prototype. There’s clearly much, much more to come, but based on this demo, I really hope the team can pull off some interesting philosophical discussion points around big tech alongside the somewhat intriguing mystery of the missing billionaire’s daughter.

One note on this demo: I did have trouble getting it to run. I’m not sure what it was that got it going the first time, but I haven’t been able to get it going again since. It could just be my rig – she is getting a bit on in age, this one – but if you download it and have issues, you aren’t the only one.

Thanks to StridePR for the opportunity to check out these demos early.

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