8 Of The Best Demos In Summer Next Fest 2024

PC, Switch, free

It’s Next Fest time once more, the rare quarterly glimpse of Steam being good for indies, as a squillion demos get uploaded all at once. It’s too many demos! And good grief, the tagging has become utterly useless. But thankfully, I’m here! Phew! I’ve picked out eight completely brilliant demos for games that should absolutely be on your wishlist, toot suite.

Please please, if you’ve found any others in the vast piles that deserves attention, drop a comment below with a link to the Steam page and a comment on why it’s worth playing.

All the demos will be available until the 17th June, with many of them lingering on beyond. Dive in below, because this is a cracking bunch.

Fowl Damage

No you think of an original idea for a platform game. Go on. Do it now! See, it’s really hard. But May Gardens did it. In Fowl Damage, you play as an adorable rolly egg, with the mysterious ability to jump. Except, as you might know if you’ve ever met an egg, it is rather under-equipped when it comes to landings. So, just jump straight up and you’ll kersplat to death after coming back down.

The conceit being, you need to make jumps that allow you to land without falling any distance. This is then extrapolated out into a neat platforming puzzle concept, where you need to negotiate your way around levels by jumping up to safe ledges, then rolling down teeny drops. Also, for a good portion of the demo, for some reason a really angry robotic claw wants to squish you.

The demo is a lot of fun, with extra motivation in the form of feathers acting like Celeste‘s strawberries, providing trickier optional challenges. It’ll be interesting to see how the ideas evolve in the full game, but this already has a lot of promise.

  • Developer: May Gardens
  • Release: 13 September 2024
  • Demo


It’s a skateboarding game about a frog with a spanner, whose best friend is a USB stick. You’d better be already downloading this demo.

This plays out as a sort of puzzle platformer, where you explore various boats by skateboarding on a giant spanner (wrench, my American chums), doing tricks to build up energy, and then using that energy to give you bursts of speed. Using this, and the ramps, you can reach leaks that need fixing, allowing access to new areas, new challenges, and even fights. It’s the skateboarding platformer you never knew you needed.

There’s definitely a need for more clarity about what you’re supposed to be doing, especially when it comes to enemies – but then, this is a demo and perhaps the full game will come with an excellent tutorial. Here’s hoping. But this is already tremendous fun.

  • OhMyMe Games
  • Release: TBA
  • Demo


Instead of spending all your time waiting for Hollow Knight: Silksong, why not spend all your time waiting for Voidwrought instead? This is another astonishingly pretty metroidvania, with careful combat and amazing animation. It’s also a lot more immediately approachable, although I rather strongly suspect that’s because of the demo’s generosity with unlocked abilities.

Still, it’s a bunch of fun, especially using the tether to leap around levels, then unleashing ghostly attacks on the grim denizens of this world. Also, it’s just packed with deliciously squelchy noises, as your character appears to be somewhat on the gelatinous side. I imagine this will eventually lose me with its boss fights, but perhaps it’ll be a game brave enough to include some difficulty settings that make it available to all, not just the loud, tedious goons. I do hope so, as this was a pleasure to play.

  • Developer: Powersnake
  • Release: 2024
  • Demo

Pinball Spire

I cannot believe there aren’t already a thousand pinball-based platformers, roguelikes, deckbuilders, etc. Obviously there’s the enormously successful and splendid Yoku’s Island Express, and games like Go Mecha Ball that embrance the mechanics, but I want more! Pinball Spire offers me hope, with an RPG-like pinball game about biffing enemies, using special spells and abilities, and exploring a world, all via the medium of pinball tables.

The demo is pretty short, and right now makes me want to play the full game, but also suggests some serious concerns. For instance, falling back to the bottom is a monstrously boring situation for much of the first three screens, and until it gives you the ability to fireball through enemies, their ridiculous respawn rates mean you can clear the screen on one flipper-hit, but then already have them back in your way by the time you get to tap another. It definitely needs some balancing.

However, with the ability to close doors beneath you, and more sensible rates of enemy return, this could be so much fun. Pinball is automatically an engaging mechanic, and a pixel art adventure is such a lovely way to play it.

  • Developer: Apparition Games
  • Release: TBA
  • Demo

Die In The Dungeon

As appears to be the case for a full 50 percent of games now, you play as a frog in Die In The Dungeon, the punny name for a dice-based roguelite of maximum cuteness. However, not another repeat of Cavanagh’s Dicey Dungeons, but instead a whole different tactical approach. Each turn you roll five random dice from your collection, offering attacks, blocks, heals and boosts, and then arrange them on a little game board that allows their effects to overlap, combine, or support one another.

There’s a heavy dose of Slay The Spire here, with enemies showing their intended attacks, and planning your move accordingly. There are also little incidents between battles, rest spots, opportunities to amend or sacrifice dice, and all that good stuff. It’s the combining powers that makes this so interesting, and this all-too-brief demo has me intrigued to see how deep those tactics can go.

  • Developer: ATICO
  • Release: Q3 2024
  • Demo

LOK Digital

I love that somehow people are coming up with completely unique puzzle designs that feel like they should always have been. LOK is a perfect example, a grid of lettered or blank tiles, on which you must spell out specific words (or spells, as I think of them), each of which has unique tile-marking properties. The goal is to have marked every tile on the grid.

You start off with the titular LOK, which when highlighted in a straight line in a grid will allow you to mark one other tile. The game remarks that you need to experiment with adjacency, as once a tile is shaded black, tiles either side of it are now considered contiguous, which is key to solving puzzles. The second word you’ll learn is TLAK, which allows you to mark two adjacent tiles. Third (and last in this demo) is AT, but you need to work out what that does for yourself. As the game rather delightfully says, “Trust the learning process.”

This is all very brilliant, and makes for amazingly engaging puzzles. An incredibly generous 31 of them in this demo (you need to give them an email address to unlock a handful of them). It didn’t even need to look this good, be so beautifully animated, and feature these lovely worm-like creatures that splish and splosh on the levels. There’s a smart brain behind the designs here, and a dose of puzzling wit that’ll make you smile as you realise some of the solutions. The full game can’t come out soon enough.

  • Developer: Letibus Design / Icedrop Games
  • Release: 2024
  • Demo

Zero Protocol

Thanks to the completely useless tags on Steam, I went into Zero Protocol thinking I was going to play a boomer shooter. Instead, I got something a lot closer to an immersive sim, and I’m delighted. This is a System Shock-ish slow-burn first-person game, in which you wake up in some sort of facility, everyone else appears to be gone, and you’ve got a bunch of rooms to try to access.

What follows is the familiar pattern of accessing terminals to gain clues to find passcodes to unlock doors to get keycards to use security computers to open doors to… you know the deal. All the while, the game’s pixelly setting flickers the lights, swells the spooky music, and what exactly is happening in those shadows?

This is a good-size chunk of game, and it suggests a lot of potential. Can’t wait.

  • Developer: R_Games
  • Release: Q4 2024
  • Demo


Someone should probably tell Knutsel that they’re making Todomiro. They’ve not noticed it on their own website, nor uploaded a single video of it to YouTube. And that seems rather a shame, given it’s splendid. This is a cute cartoon world where you can zoom in to every detail to find microscopic little beasties, in a very silly hidden object game.

The demo is super-brief, but gives you a lovely idea of how it works, with five creatures to discover, via solving little puzzles to access new areas to zoom in on. Let’s just hope its own developers remember it!

  • Developer: Knutsel
  • Release: 2024
  • Demo


  1. some additions to check out
    – judero
    – oddada
    – 500 caliber contractz
    – elation for the wonder box 6000

    theres a few more id add in there from visuals alone but those ones are top quality and worth looking at!

  2. “difficulty settings that make it available to all, not just the loud, tedious goons”

    Hey? Not all of us Hollow Knight-likers are terrible, I swear!

    I also wish that there were robust difficulty options built into Hollow Knight (and most Souls games, for that matter), so I could more easily recommend them to more of my friends — there are some really neat things in there!

    1. Related: Nine Sols, the new hardcore Sekiro-like metroidvania from Red Candle, which is generally getting heralded with “best thing since Hollow Knight” accolades has an easier difficulty mode which enables some robust options for fine-tuning accessibility.

      I thought of John Walker as soon as I saw that.

  3. “Of The Devil” is a slick Phoenix Wright-a-like (mostly, I guess – your basic “find evidence and say the right things”), set in a dystopian surveillance future. Really solid writing, lovely presentation, and a hell of a twist to its prologue chapter. Really good.

    1. Wow thank you, ‘of the Devil’ is really good, yes Cyberpunk Noir Ace Attorney with some Paradise Killer in there. And the writing is actually good, incredible.

      My contribution to this thread is _BC Piezophile_ . It sits on one of the poles opposite to ‘of the Devil’.

      The game of it is slowly navigating a heavy mech from cockpit view around an uncaring underwater environment, fairly lo-fi. It’s a slow-paced careful process — very little of the mech controls and displays are explained (by design). The frame story, mission briefing, and lore (and even the settings screen!) is lovingly written in a baroque lost-tech way that right now I love a lot more than the experience of playing the game — but definitely worth checking out if any of that sounds even slightly appealing.

  4. I’ll try staying away from the super obvious ones getting coverage elsewhere:

    Gestalt: Steam & Cinder – Metroidvania action platformer that isn’t twitchy, has a good aesthetic, soundtrack and story. Already very responsive and fleshed out: you can pet corgis that seem to work as “extras for experts” if you can reach them.

    Artisan TD: A traditional tower-defence game focused on making mazes. Looks like there’s a plot, but that’s not really In The Game yet: the devs have focused on the mechanics, which seem solid and have some interesting twists. Stuff you normally see much later in TD games is visible here in like level 3 of the demo, so I’m curious to see how it’ll evolve. I also like some of the character design: the invaders appear to be the traditional Interdimensional Squid, and they’ve run with the aesthetic so that there are stealthy attackers that look… like an Interdimensional Squid wearing a Ninja Outfit. SOLD.

    Sauna of the Dead: What appears to be a weird and wild Vampire Survivors-alike about someone helping undead spirits ascend to the afterlife by wafting them with a towel in a spiritual sauna and trying not to die in the process? Wasn’t for me, but I can see it appealing to other folks: adding a stamina bar to “vampire survivors” isn’t my jam, but might appeal to somebody?

    Unread Messages: A puzzle game about being an AI routing messages between towers and trying to avoid cross-talk and other issues. I didn’t enjoy the vibe of the training AI and stopped early, but it seems likely to be building to a story?

  5. Well, there’s Just Crow Things. (https://store.steampowered.com/app/2537920/Just_Crow_Things/) The demo’s a little rough, but I have to respect any game that lets you pick up the menu items in the start screen and whack people with them. Seriously. You can walk right up to the “New Game” button, grab it with your little crow beak, and then use it to slap hapless pedestrians. The game itself appears to be a cheery, Untitled Goose Game-adjacent, fetch-questathon and cartoon-physics vandalism simulator. It’s not quite my thing, but my teenaged child thought it was hilarious.

  6. Usurper – Does for chess what Balatro does for poker. Fantastic, run-based, deck-builder but the cards are chess pieces, some standard ones but lots of mad new made up ones with a unique way they are deployed and used which requires no chess knowledge.
    Criminally overlooked it seems.

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