Steam Next Fest June 2024 – Demos That Packed A Summer Punch

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Summer weather may have been late to the party here in the UK, but one thing that never fails to deliver during summer is Steam Next Fest. Running from 10th – 17th June, the fest showcased the very best of upcoming indie gems with demos galore. From veteran devs to promising newbies, and mascot platformers to gritty survival horrors, it was the perfect summer smorgasbord. Every studio brought their A-game, literally. Being huge indie stans, we here at Thumb Culture were of course all over it and keen to bask in the Next Fest heat. So, flaky weather aside, here are five demos that made sure summer was off to a fabulous start. And guess what, console players? Almost all have a console release lined up! Huzzah!



Genre: Action-Adventure/Platformer
Planned Release Date: 29th August 2024
Platforms: Windows, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S

A robot runs toward towering structures against a blue sky. It shoots a laser gun at robot enemies in the distance while a floating robot head hovers beside it.
Always bring a laser gun to a shootout!

With Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart celebrating its 3rd anniversary and the first Sly Cooper game and Daxter coming to the PlayStation Store, the demand for classic PS2 platformers to return has never been higher. Luckily, Evil Raptor’s Akimbot looks set to tap into that golden-era goodness and then some! In a world of robots, mercenary Exe and floating unit Shipset are thrown together after the prison vessel they are trapped on crashes. Getting hold of their own ship is the logical next step. If they can put up with each other and battle through the goons of a robot gangster, that is.

It’s hard not to have a damn good time with this as it’s everything a classic platformer fan could want. Exe can effortlessly jump and glide across the terrain; the propulsion and gravity feels just right. And like a certain Lombax, he can not only swing a powerful melee attack but also bring an array of futuristic firearms out to play. Laser pistols, rifles, powerful electric pulses – all have their unique strengths to suit your preferred gunplay style. But if you think the goons will go easy on you, think again. You’ll have to be quick on your feet and the trigger as the high-octane action will put you to the test. All the while, Shipset is by your side for moral support as the wise-cracking Daxter-like sidekick.

Time to party like it’s 2004 as Akimbot looks to bring back the vibrant 3D platformer era in style!

Wishlist/follow it here: STEAM | PS STORE | XBOX STORE

Bloomtown: A Different Story

Genre: RPG
Planned Release Date: Q3 2024
Platforms: Windows, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

A pixel art scene depicting a turn-based battle inside a dungeon with a portcullis in the centre. Monsters stand to the left while the characters stand to the right. Their faces and stats are displayed in the lower right corner. One attacks a monster with a sword.
Step aside, hench corgi. I’ve got this!

Like many people out there with impeccable taste, I was a big fan of the animated series Gravity Falls. Even now, I still crave something that captures the same unique vibe. TV may still fall short, but Different Sense Games and Lazy Bear Games may have cracked it with Bloomtown: A Different Story. Emily and her younger brother Chester are sent to stay with their grandfather in the cosy, sleepy town of Bloomtown. But, of course, something soon seems to be off with this quiet little idyll. Children have gone missing. Demonic creatures have begun to appear out of nowhere. Armed with active imaginations and supernatural sidekicks of their own, Emily, Chester and their new friends are determined to discover its secrets.

Calling Bloomtown an RPG is rather simplistic as this game sports so many interesting aspects. As well as quests, there is a day/night time cycle with certain areas and activities only accessible at certain times. Emily can also take on jobs to earn extra money and work out to enhance her abilities. And even the classic turn-based combat has extra oomph with a creature collecting feature. While each party member has their own ‘inner demons’ to aid them, monsters can also be captured in battle. After doing so, these can then be attached to combat abilities to give them different effects – very satisfying to mix and match!

As if that wasn’t enough already, the pixel art graphics are also delightful and the soundtrack (especially during combat) goes way harder than you’d ever expect. Bouncy earworms for days!


Wishlist/follow it here: STEAM | PS STORE 

Cat Quest III

Genre: Action-RPG
Planned Release Date: 8th August 2024
Platforms: Windows, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

A pirate cat and a small ghost cat stand on an island with a sandy beach and green mountains, surrounded by a blue sea. The words 'Rest Beakon' and ' Catuga Beach' are displayed on the ground like a map.
Shiver me timbers! Avast improvement!

Ahoy mateys! There be adventure, magic and non-stop cat puns in these here waters. The Gentlebros are back with the next instalment in a beloved feline franchise. Cat Quest III puts you in the paws of a purr-ivateer sailing the high seas of the Purribbean. With your ghostly companion, you are in search of treasure most shiny. But the sea is plagued by the pillaging Pirate King and his army of dangerous pi-rats. You’ll have to fight tooth, claw, cannon and cutlass to claim your booty.

Slick and satisfying hack-and-slash combat returns as you swipe, shoot and dodge your way across the archipelago. Combine this with an array of powerful magics like mainstays Lightnyan and Flamepurr and you’re a furry force to be reckoned with! But the most satisfying (and appropriate) addition is your very own dinky pirate ship. Not just a way to get from island A to island B, you can man your cannons and take down enemy ships in full explosive naval battles. And of course, what’s a pirate action-RPG without a few side quests? Whether investigating a waterlogged cave or ridding a town of pi-rats, there’s plenty of extra treasure to pick up and colourful characters to meet along the way.

Topped off with stunning 2.5D visuals, animated cutscenes and a jaunty soundtrack, Cat Quest III looks like a treasure you’d have to be a yellow-bellied landlubber to pass up!

Wishlist/pre-order it here: STEAM | PS STORE | XBOX STORE | NINTENDO STORE


Genre: Survival Horror
Planned Release Date: 23rd July 2024
Platforms: Windows, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

A black pixel art scene inside a World War 1 trench. A blue light glows in the centre, showing a soldier sitting in his bunk to the right and a soldier walking towards him. A large storage chest is to the left of the approaching soldier.
Even in the darkness, a light shines…

As terrifying as a zombie outbreak or mutated creatures are, sometimes the most chilling horrors are rooted in real-life events. And few things compare to the reality of war. Conscript by solo developer Catchweight Studio throws you into the devastatingly bloody throes of the Great War. You are André Poilu, a French soldier whose brother goes missing during the Battle of Verdun. But the nearby fort is under attack and the enemy forces are sweeping through the trenches. You must keep your resolve and bring both wits and brawn to bear to survive the horrors of war.

In gritty yet detailed top-down pixel art fashion, you navigate through the winding trenches, peppered with enemy troops and mustard gas. Enemy soldiers vary in strength and firepower and will not hesitate to cut you down. Occasionally stealth is an advantage; hiding in cubbies and attacking certain enemies from behind can take them out immediately. But if you’re spotted, expect a gruesome fight to the death. Heavily inspired by the Resident Evil series, conserving and combining your supplies is key to survival. Inventory space is limited and save points are few and far between. Do you pick up a spool of barbed wire to fortify a damaged trench wall? Or do you sterilise your bandages to ward off disease? On top of this, the confining and unnerving sound effects, from muffled cries to stalking steps, ramp up the tension expertly.

Unlike Conscript‘s inspirations, no supernatural nasties exist here. No grotesque abominations to slay. The enemies are undeniably human. The atmosphere—sadly now only relayed through second-hand means—was very real. And that makes it all the more terrifying.


Wishlist/pre-order it here: STEAM | GOG | PS STORE | XBOX STORE | NINTENDO STORE


Genre: Action-Adventure/Metroidvania
Planned Release Date: TBA
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

A wooden artist's doll swings a sword towards a mechanical enemy. An enemy resembling a mechanical spider approaches from behind. Coloured lights hang from the ceiling and old furniture is lying around the room.

Toy Story showed us the hidden world of toys when children aren’t around. But what about the general objects that humans use and eventually forget? Forgotlings by Throughline Games sheds light on this mystery. A successor to Forgotton Anne, Forgotlings fleshes out the ‘Forgotten Lands’, a world of objects now sentient after being discarded by humans. Protagonist and wooden posing doll Fig is the captain of the ship Volare, sailing across the lands with his band of fellow Forgotlings and searching for purpose. What awaits them is adventure, intrigue and pivotal choices. There is unrest within the five tribes of the Forgotten Lands and the slim chance of peace may be in their hands. Or handles, in some cases.

Striking animation will always be a hit with me and Forgotlings strikes gold with gorgeous hand-drawn animation and painted backgrounds. Disney, Ghibli and all the animated greats are evoked here. Characters are brimming with personality and a fluidity that shines through in both conversation and combat. The former involves beautiful cinematic cutscenes, interspersed with key choices that affect the action. Sometimes a round of INA—a highly addictive game of grids and counters—can break the ice with a Forgotling. The latter is both smooth and satisfying; Fig’s dancer-esque swordplay matched against bandits’ lumbering mechanical gaits is engrossing. Confronting enemies head-on is not always the best approach, however. Balancing stealth, sword and knowing when and how to tactfully flee all play a vital part in being a masterful combatant.

There’s no shortage of cinematic adventures but with these plus points, and a great voice cast to boot, Forgotlings may be a sweeping tale we won’t soon forget.


Wishlist/follow it here: STEAM


Honourable Mentions


Picking a Top 5 is ever the challenge. Every Next Fest has more and more games to get excited about. And with a good number billed for release in the next 2 months, this may be an indie gamer’s best summer yet!

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2 thoughts on “Steam Next Fest June 2024 – Demos That Packed A Summer Punch

  1. I need no persuading to buy Cat Quest III but it’s fantastic to read a variety of other genres described in such evocative style. I’ll definitely be picking up a few of them.

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