• Nate Hermanson

NEWS: Steam Game Festival returns with 500+ demos of upcoming games!

Updated: Jun 20, 2021

Over the last year or so, Steam and Geoff Keighley found a way to bring back a relic of gaming past. One that was usually found within the pages of gaming magazines or hidden with gaming's hottest releases.


The demo disc.

A promotional image for the Steam Game Festival running from February 3, 2021 to February 9, 2021. It reads with the tagline "Play what's next" and promotes the festival's demos, livestreams, and developer chats.

Steam started the Steam Game Festival program as part of gaming's COVID-19 response. With conventions closing around the globe, indie developers were left without a place to showcase their biggest games. Games like Shovel Knight, Samurai Gunn, and Untitled Goose Game may have been lost in the shuffle had it not been for their spotlights at conventions like PAX, E3, and Comic-Con.


So with the impending cancellations of all those events early in 2020, the Steam Game Festival ramped itself up to be something even bigger. What started in December 2019 as a fun way to try some of the games revealed at Keighley's Game Awards turned into hundreds of developers showcasing a slice of their games for folks to play at home all year long.


The diversity of games on display is fantastic and even the most niche gaming fan would be able to spend hours trying new games relevant to their interests. As a fan of way too many genres, I've spent full days trying to find some hidden gems.


Y'see, I've got experience with these festivals... I've attempted to play AS MANY of these demos as possible during the last few of these and that has amounted in over 300 demos played and one-line reviewed by yours truly. I'm not going to do that this year, but there are some definite highlights amongst these hundreds of demos that I think you should check out!


A screenshot of the video game Button City. It depicts two anthropomorphic characters, one is a bear and the other is a fox. The bear has a text bubble coming from them that reads "It's metal yoga, Fenn!" Their name is Sorrel.

Button City - A super cute game about a batch of kiddos trying to save their local arcade. Simple adventure game mechanics, but tons of charm and some nice meta-game moments.


A screenshot of the video game Genesis Noir. It depicts a monochromatic noir cityscape with the player character standing in the foreground.

Genesis Noir - An extremely unique and trippy journey through a jazz-fueled noir line-art landscape that is super metaphysical. Just go experience it.


A screenshot of the game Tunche on PC. It depicts two player characters in a side-scrolling combat scenario as they battle a giant sloth-like beast. User interface elements, such as player health, enemy health and combo meters, are visible as well.

Tunche - Some old-school beat 'em up action featuring some amazing hand-drawn art set in the Amazonian rainforests. Also Hat Kid from A Hat In Time is there, so that's neat. Definitely give this a try with friends to experience the couch co-op vibes too!


A screenshot of the extreme sports game SkateBIRD. It depicts a bird with a flower on its head and glasses on a skateboard, grinding a rail. User interface elements feature score totals, a score multiplier, and the moves they are doing.

SkateBIRD - It's Tony Hawk Pro Skater but you're a bird. If you haven't heard about it yet, now is the time to fall in love like the rest of the internet. SKATEBIRD FOREVER.


A screenshot of the tactics roguelite RPG, Floppy Knights. It depicts a grid-based battle screen with enemy and player units throughout the map. On the bottom of the screen, a collection of cards are seen along with various user interface elements.

Floppy Knights - Featuring incredibly charming art from Marlowe Dobbe (Dicey Dungeons), it's turn-based deck-driven strategy. Retro tech meets fantasy. Fire Emblem meets Advance Wars. And it's just so easy to play in nice bite-sized chunks.


A screenshot of the adventure game Chicory: A Colorful Tale. It depicts a mostly monochromatic coloring book style land with trees and a large building. Splashed throughout the image are bits of color and the paintbrush that the player uses.

Chicory: A Colorful Tale - YOU PLAY AS A PUP WHO INHERITS THE POWER TO COLOR IN THE WORLD. It's a unique game mechanic, some fun coloring book aesthetics, brought to us by an all-star indie dev team.


An image of the tower-defense adventure game Dwerve. It depicts a top-down perspective on a forest landscape with a variety of traps and machines built by the player character, who stands in the middle.

Dwerve - An interesting Zelda-like featuring a young hero who's better at building than brawling. Instead of direct basic combat, you enter small zones that turn into mini tower defense scenarios. It works so well it just feels like it's always been a thing.


A screenshot of the rhythm game Starstruck. It depicts one of the game's characters singing into a microphone alongside a traditional guitar note track with a variety of beat notes.

Starstruck: Prologue - While technically not a highlighted demo in this month's Steam Game Festival, I have to highlight this fascinating game from a previous game festival. Part Katamari Damacy, part Guitar Hero, part full-on musical dramedy. Check this game out TODAY.


This time out, I'm trying some new stuff that caught my eye, like Oddventure, LUNARK, and AK-xoltl featuring an axoltl with an AK-47. I recommend you do the same! You might just find your next highly anticipated game. The Steam Games Festival runs through February 9th.

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