It is Steam Next Fest time! That’s right, it is once again time to celebrate the indie games being created day in day out, all around the world! I love to take this opportunity to play as many demos as possible, trying out as many as I can in my never ending quest to see what passionate developers are creating.
If you are looking for coverage of all genres I’m afraid you won’t find it here. Racing games, rhythm games, deck builders, challenging games, shooters and horror (with a couple of exceptions) are absolutely not my genres. Personally, I am not terribly interested in combat or anything too fast paced. I very occasionally dabble in management games, survival games and simulators but they aren’t my biggest focus. The types of games I am looking for include interesting narratives and ways to tell said narratives. I like exploring interesting spaces and moving in interesting ways. Level design, world building, art direction, story and atmosphere all matter a great deal to me. Whether that is a cozy time gathering materials to craft objects, or a thrilling time investigating a grisly murder. An epic adventure across lands unheard, or an intimate story one can only experience by playing for themself. I game for feelings and I game for escapism. I game for different perspectives and I game for art. Finally, as we all do, I game for fun.
Now that you have an idea of my tastes, shall we begin the search for my Noob Picks of the Steam Next Fest February 2023!? Let’s go!
Wishlisting a game on steam helps the creators by aiding in discoverability as well as keeping you informed, so if you see something that you like then don’t be shy about hitting the Wishlist button.
(You might want to keep an eye on my twitter for updates as I will be adding to the post as I go, with the most recently tried added to the top of the post)
Sherlock Holmes The Awakened
Release Date: Q1 2023
Sherlock Holmes The Awakened was added to my wishlist the second that it was announced. Last year I streamed both Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishment and Sherlock Holmes: The Devils Daughter, and while they weren’t perfect games, we had a lot of fun with them. I have yet to play Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One, but when I saw a demo for The Awakened I was tentatively excited. This game is a reimagining of the 2008 game of the same name. I have no experience of that version so I can only talk in the context of the previous titles that I know.
The game plays similarly to Crimes and Punishment and The Devils Daughter, but also feels noticeably different. Firstly, this takes place in a Lovecraftian world, so naturally it is going to have a different atmosphere. But beyond that, based on the demo, I am thrilled by the changes they have made. There are too many to list but it feels tighter. The mechanics simultaneously feel easier, make more sense and yet feel more tricky. The demo did drop us in the middle of the game so I can’t speak for the story, except for how much I loved what I played. It had the drama that I have grown to expect from both the cinematics and the character alike.
+ Made in Ukraine.
+ I really like what I have seen from this version of the character.
+ The environments look great.
+ The Lovecraft influence lends very well to the timeframe and setting of Sherlock Holmes.
+ Fun detective gameplay.
+ The end of the demo. If you know, you know.
+ An optional environment scan to highlight clues you may have missed.
+ New added mechanics like pinning clues to your HUD, which in turn effects the clues you may find.
+/- The new systems have a chance of making the game more difficult.
– Facial animations and hair textures aren’t quite as good as everything else is visually.
Highly recommend this one, here is the Steam page.
A Tower Full of Cats
Release Date: 2023
A Tower Full of Cats – a continuation of A Building Full of Cats and A Castle Full of Cats – is a hidden object game where you have to find, wait for it, cats! Depending on your personality type, you may meditatively scour the environment, precisely clicking everytime you find a little fury delight. Alternatively, you may furiously click everything you see (or don’t see) in a slightly different kind of meditation. Either way, this game provides a little humour and observation training in an easy to use, well presented package. I would love a game like this on mobile to play on the go using touchscreen. The best part? The game is developed entirely by 5 rescue cats.
+ Cats being cats.
+ The doodles are very charming.
+ Search your way through different themes.
+ The music is great and themed to each location.
+ The way colour is used.
+ Adopt don’t shop.
+/- There is not a whole lot to it, it’s like an interactive Where’s Wally.
– I imagine I will get frustrated if I have used my hint and have a single cat left to find.
Wishlist here on Steam.
Mika and the Witch’s Mountain
Developer: Chibig, Nukefist
Release Date: 2023
My initial impression of Mika and the Witch’s Mountain was if Death Stranding and A Short Hike had a child. I don’t think I was that far off, but I would perhaps replace Death Stranding with Lake. In the Demo, we play as Mika, who must climb to the peak of a mountain to prove she can be the witch that she desires to be. As misfortune has it, all she has to her name is a broken broom. Thankfully, there is a job opening at a local delivery service in which her ability to fly makes her the perfect candidate. We proceed to deliver packages in the village, swooping and diving, on a mission to buy a suitable broom for the journey. Combining fun, unique movement mechanics with a delivery game feels like the next step for a sub-genre that appears to be growing, particularly in the indie scene.
+ The cutscenes are adorably animated.
+ The world is full of critters, bringing it to life.
+ Movement is fun.
+ A sense of freedom.
+/- Seems to have a progression loop of – do jobs to get better equiptment, which allows you to do more difficult jobs, to get more equiptment.
Check out the Steam page for more information.
The Star Named EOS
Developer: Silver Lining Studio
Release Date: Coming Soon
From the creators of Behind the Frame: The Finest Scenery is this relaxing point and click puzzle game. Or at least, the demo was relaxing. During my 30 minutes with the game I solved an escape room style puzzle in a beautiful art style along side some very chilled out music. Throughout this time, we get to know a little about our character and his relationship with his mother. The section played gave off the energy of love, creativity, and mindfulness. I assumed that this is how the rest of the game will be too, until the end. As I reached the abrupt finish, I am left wondering whether this is after all going to be a chill, peaceful experience, or is it going to break my heart instead?
+ Art style is nice to look at.
+ Fun puzzles.
+ I like the positive messaging so far.
+ Chill vibes.
+ Taking photos can reveal more story and flavour.
+/- Unsure whether it is going to stay chill.
+/- The demo wasn’t about the finding a good angle or correct lighting side of photography.
+/- Can be played entirely with the mouse. All movement is click and drag.
– There is some vaguely hint-y text as you explore, but I personally would have preferred a dedicated hint system.
For more information check out the Steam page here.
This is the second festival that I have covered under the Indie Showcase name, the first being October 2022 where I created a magazine. If you would like to check out any of my previous coverage please take a look at the links below!
- Steam Next Fest: October 2022
- Steam Next Fest: February 2022
- The Big Adventure Event 2022
- Steam Next Fest: June 2021
- LudoNarraCon 2021
- IWOCon 2021
- Steam Game Festival: February 2021
- Steam Game Festival: Autumn Edition 2020
- Steam Game Festival: Summer Edition 2020
- LudoNarraCon 2020
- Steam Game Festival: Spring Edition 2020
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