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11 Awesome Steam Game Festival Demos Worth Playing

Steam Game Festival Demos

Yet another Steam Game Festival is here filled with demos to try for free. The last bundle of demos in the Winter had merely 14 neat games to check out. This time around, Valve has gone above and beyond with over 900 demos. While certain developers have their demos available outside the event, this Steam Game Festival runs from June 16, 2020 1 p.m. Eastern to June 22, 2020 1 p.m. Eastern.


Table of Contents

Fights in Tight Spaces
Figment: Creed Valley
Stronghold Warlords
The Riftbreaker
The Survivalists
A Monster’s Expedition
Children of Silentown
Soldat 2
The Wild at Heart
Iron Meat
Traffic Jams (VR)
Hospitality VR

Fights in Tight Spaces Mini-Preview

Fights in Tight Spaces Demo Preview

Developer: Ground Shatter
Release Date: 2020
Steam Link: Click Here

I love both the suave soundtrack and excellent sound design. Every jab and kick feels satisfying as they connect. The only peeve I have is not knowing what certain floor symbols mean and sometimes struggling to understand the environment. The minimalist art style is great, but it can be difficult to visualize certain shades of gray representing tables, for example. 

Developer Ground Shatter definitely put a unique spin on card games with this direction. The strategy and patience that goes into setting up every fight reminds me of Into the Breach. There’s nothing more pleasing than pushing someone into another enemy’s punch, originally meant for you.

Figment: Creed Valley Mini-Preview

Figment Creed Valley Demo Preview

Developer: Bedtime Digital Games
Release Date: Winter 2020 (PC)
Steam Link: Click Here

A much larger color palette than our previous game arrives in Figment: Creed Valley, the sequel to Figment. I haven’t played the first, so I can’t speak on how the story continues. However, Creed Valley is an extremely cute game with a beautiful soundtrack woven into the gameplay. The simple puzzles are enough to make you think without being frustrating. Which still leads to a rewarding feeling.

Experiencing my first musical boss battle in Creed Valley already made me realize how much I’m missing out on in Figment. It’s such an invigorating experience listening to the rhythm while remembering to play the game. I can’t wait to see more of this for sure.

Stronghold Warlords Mini-Preview

Stronghold Warlords Demo Preview

Developer: FireFly Studios
Release Date: September 29, 2020
Steam Link: Click Here

Hearing a flute in the intro theme for Stronghold Warlords is enough to make me nostalgic already. Between the original Stronghold and Stronghold Crusader, I put a good chunk of time in both RTS games. One of the highlights of the Steam Game Festival was seeing a demo for Warlords and after having played it, I enjoyed my time quite thoroughly.

The demo tosses you into a scenario to defeat another lord while maneuvring around side factions. It’s a little uncomfortable having a bunch of buildings and not knowing what a single one does. However, it didn’t take too long for it to click for me. There’s an interesting diplomacy mechanic where you can request aide from other lords using a certain currency. Also, the addition of rocket launcher siege units sounds as silly as they are, yet they work.

Stronghold Warlords is a great fresh take on the franchise and it’s definitely on my radar. Now to persuade my brother to play it with me in September!

The Riftbreaker Mini-Preview

The Riftbreaker Demo Preview

Developer: EXOR Studios
Release Date: Summer 2020 (PC)
Steam Link: Click Here


I was worried at first with how many different genres The Riftbreaker has on its Steam page. I quickly realized from the demo that the developer nails every genre it lists. The Riftbreaker is extremely entertaining while juggling elements you’d find in an RTS, but with the control of your own mech suit to slaughter alien swarms. I definitely get a strong Factorio vibe without going insane trying to micromanage a massive base.

I can’t wait to get more time in because there’s so much going on that I want to jump back into. Whether it’s building a giant fortress armed with turrets or slicing through crowds of aliens with a sword. On top of it all, the developer added streaming features for what I can only imagine will lead to dangerous results from viewers watching.

Liberated Mini-Preview

Liberated Demo Preview

Developer: Atomic Wolf
Release Date: July 2020 (PC)
Steam Link: Click Here


And we’re back to a minimalist color scheme with a dark noir look. The comic book art style immediately grabbed my attention when I saw Liberated on the Steam Game Festival page. It’s tough to say much about it yet, since the demo prides itself on minimizing spoilers to the story. Aside from random bits here and there, I don’t have a good idea of what’s going on.

So far it’s a noir sidescroller with a dystopian future where the government is always watching. After flipping through a few comic book pages and seeing everyone being scanned for information, it’s no surprise a revolt is forming. I’m curious to see more on Liberated, but at the moment, all I know is, technology is dangerous and shoot masked baddies.

Grounded Mini-Preview

Grounded Demo Preview

Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Release Date: July 28, 2020 (Steam Early Access)
Steam Link: Click Here

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks creating a garden and I keep thinking about a new habitat forming. It makes me wonder what new beatles, bugs, and butterflies will begin appearing. Grounded is a great way for me to imagine all those little bugs and creatures as if I’m down there living with them. There’s just something neat about being shrunken down to their size and seeing every blade of grass in-detail. It feels as if I’m in the middle of a jungle.

The Grounded demo gives off a vibe similar to The Forest in its survival elements, despite having a completely different environment. Especially since it comes across as more family-friendly than the odd creatures in The Forest. I’d like to see how further content develops the story and where they go with it. Will it focus on a bunch of kids shrunken to size and trying to get back to normal? Will there be some crazy mystery that involves saving the environment? Who knows, but I’m excited to get my hands on more of Grounded.

I’ve played a good amount of survival games and I’m curious to see where Obsidian takes theirs. Plus, it sounds like a great time surviving against ants, spiders, and whatever else with friends.

The Survivalists Mini-Preview

The Survivalists Demo Preview

Developer: Team17 Digital Ltd
Release Date: 2020 (PC)
Steam Link: Click Here

As a fan of The Escapists, it’s pretty cool to see Team17 Digital expanding on that universe with The Survivalists. The demo starts with your character stranded on an island trying to survive. It truly picks up when you get your first monkey companion that you can teach different actions to. At first, it was a little difficult to understand how you get them to mimic your actions.

Once I finally got the hang of things, I created an army of monkeys with wooden clubs, beating any hostile animals. I’ve never felt so safe at night with scary boars and bats swooping in after me. On top of creating a mob of monkeys, it’s also neat learning how to have them do the boring survival game tasks. I gave a monkey a hatchet and they quickly decimated a forest.

So long as The Survivalists doesn’t run out of content, I look forward to seeing what it turns into. Overall, you’ll never see me against more cooperative experiences with friends.

Rustler Mini-Preview

Rustler Demo Preview

Developer: Jutsu Games
Release Date: Unknown
Steam Link: Click Here

Combine the medieval time period with Grand Theft Auto and the movie A Knight’s Tale, and you’ve got Rustler. Kickstarted in February 2020, the demo shows the developer is trying to get as many little jokes crammed into the game. Silly GTA references are all over like “Pimp a Horse” for wiping out your wanted rating. The more I played the demo, I noticed a lot of GTA quirks that any fan will recognize.

Rustler reminds me of how Saints Row started as a similar game to GTA and eventually went off in its own direction as a ridiculous game. If you look at the original Saints Row game and compare it to now, they’re nothing alike. Rustler is having fun being whatever it wants to in an odd medieval universe. Enjoy playing a drunk thief in a nonsensical world.

A Monster’s Expedition Mini-Preview

A Monster's Expedition Steam Game Festival Demo

Developer: Draknek & Friends
Release Date: 2020
Steam Link: Click Here

A Monster’s Expedition is a cute game that follows the serene journey of a monster. The same way humans today study dinosaur fossils to learn about history, this world studies human artifacts. Exploring from island to island, silly exhibits provide both an interesting and funny perspective on our lives. For those familiar with the Strange Planet comics, the exhibits remind me of those.

A neat feature I noticed late into my demo is that the music plays around your actions. Simply knocking over a tree to create a bridge plays peaceful sounds simultaneously. A Monster’s Expedition is easily worth my recommendation. The puzzles are light, there are alternate routes, and the undo button is a lifesaver. Just try not to get too lost in the bright colors and calming sounds.

Children of Silentown Mini-Preview

Children of Silentown Demo Preview

Developer: Elf Games, Luna2 Studio
Release Date: Late 2020
Steam Link: Click Here

The woods were always a place of freedom and entertainment when I was a kid living in a condominium. Children of Silentown turns a place I once cherished into a dangerous world with monsters lurking. This point and click adventure feels hindered by the demo since the dialogue kicks off a little stale. However, I understand needing to set the mood and foundation for what’s to come.

There’s certainly a creepy atmosphere, obvious from the start with every character having a void where their eyes should be. People whisper about the woods surrounding the town as if something isn’t right. Fortunately, the demo gives a brief tease of it when the main character Lucy gets caught out at night. I’ll have to keep an eye on Children of Silentown as I’ve recently tried my hand at point and click adventures again with The Drifter too.

Soldat 2 Mini-Preview

Soldat 2 Steam Game Festival Demo

Developer: Transhuman Design
Release Date: Summer 2020
Steam Link: Click Here

Seeing a Soldat 2 demo randomly pop up on Steam was a nice little surprise. It’s no secret to anyone that knows me that I don’t remember much from when I was younger. But the original Soldat was still a fun nostalgic memory of times spent with my brother. Flying through the air chaotically in the middle of Capture the Flag matches is something I recall dearly. It definitely helped that this simple sidescrolling shooter was easy to run on my computer too.

Honestly, this isn’t a sequel I expected to see, but I’m completely here for it. The demo feels satisfying and extremely familiar to the original. I can’t wait to fool around with buddies when it releases onto Steam Early Access.

Ultrakill Mini-Preview

Ultrakill Preview

Developer: Arsi “Hakita” Patala
Release Date: Summer 2020
Steam Link: Click Here

The non-stop action in Ultrakill alongside a fantastic soundtrack is what makes it such a great game. There’s a rhythm to the fast-paced chaos that goes with shooting enemies, dashing away from projectiles, and constantly moving to stay alive. As I got more comfortable with Ultrakill, I really began to appreciate how many unique ways you can kill enemies with style.

Combining different actions together like jumping off a wall to ground pound a group of enemies and then punching a boss in the face because you can. One of the mechanics I like most is how you regain health from the blood of enemies. It might be a little edgy, but it’s extremely satisfying when you pump an enemy full of pellets and dash through them for health. Playing on the harder Violent difficulty led to many beautiful moments where everything came together.

Ultrakill’s flow, soundtrack, and unique combat is what makes it a blast. If you could just inject this into my veins, that’d be great.

The Wild at Heart Mini-Preview

The Wild at Heart Preview

Developer: Moonlight Kids
Release Date: Unknown
Steam Link: Click Here

The Wild at Heart demo from the Steam Game Festival shows it’s full of personality everywhere you look. Every screenshot shows a beautiful environment in both its color and vibe. I love the way dialogue is handled because the text is animated creatively in most conversations. Sometimes a word is wavey, moving, bigger than others, italicized, shaking, etc. This makes every conversation jump at you and really grab your attention.

It does make me wonder if dyslexic people might have issues playing a game with dialogue like that, however. It’d be neat to have an option without all the animations for that purpose. Conversations aside, The Wild at Heart is a neat adventure game with similarities to the Pikmin franchise (that I’ve never played). The protagonist ventures off into a forest where he comes across all sorts of little creatures and uniquely designed characters.

What I look forward to the most with The Wild at Heart, is the story. The demo teased an interesting narrative that was enough to hook me.

Iron Meat Mini-Preview

Iron Meat Demo Preview

Developer: Ivan Valeryevich Suvorov
Release Date: Unknown
Steam Link: Click Here

As someone who grew up with the painfully difficult Contra games, I immediately felt comfortable with Iron Meat. This run-and-gun demo features a lot of gore, demons, and room for screwing up. The only reason I finished the demo is because the developer is generous with lives compared to old arcade games. I love the weapon variety, soundtrack, and overall action.

The composer Vladimir Tugay gets you into a smooth rhythm with Iron Meat’s metal soundtrack. A side note worth mentioning is that there were a few demo deaths that simply rely on trial and error. The fast-paced action of run-and-gun games definitely punishes you for every little mistake. Iron Meat is no different.

On the Steam forum, the developer mentioned a possible October 2020 release and plans for local co-op. I can already see this working well on Nintendo Switch, which seems to be a planned platform.

Traffic Jams Mini-Preview (VR)

Traffic Jams Preview

Photo Credit: Little Chicken Game Company

Developer: Little Chicken Game Company
Release Date: September 2020
Steam Link: Click Here

Become a traffic controller today in Traffic Jams as you guide cars and pedestrians through streets to the best of your ability. With simple and easy to understand controls, Traffic Jams is an extremely enjoyable VR game. I never thought controlling traffic would be a fun idea for a game, but here we are.

Your goal is to prevent cars and pedestrians from getting in each other’s way while also not making them angry. Telling a bus driver to stop and wait for too long might not yield positive results. This is where the chaos begins as cars and pedestrians start moving on their own. But why stop there, when you can throw in a night level with zombies on the prowl.

I already see the level challenges encourage replayability without being a pain. First, you might want to knock several out by directing traffic smoothly. Get those high scores and combos from succeeding. Second time around, why not cause some chaos and finish oddball challenges.

On top of everything, Traffic Jams will have multiplayer support for others to mess with your traffic. Up to four people on their phone can try to create mayhem in your intersection.

Hospitality VR Mini-Preview

Hospitality VR Preview

Photo Credit: David Flossdorf

Developer: David Flossdorf
Release Date: July 20, 2020
Steam Link: Click Here

Inside a cramped elevator with a blindingly bright light. We’re going down and suddenly the light flickers. I’m in a wheelchair and can’t move, what’s going on? Suddenly the elevator dings, the doors creak open slowly, and I roll slowly into a hospital hallway. It’s dark, there’s a quiet eery sound, and the lights keep flickering on and off. I can’t see anyone, I can’t hear anyone, except for random whispering I can’t place the direction of.

Hospitality VR is a short psychological horror game that puts you in a hospital where something is off. It gives off an abandoned and haunted vibe for a place you probably don’t want to be. The four-minute demo kept me on edge as the experience of VR really immerses you. I was a little disappointed when I realized the finished version is only planned for 10 minutes, but I understand that’s what the developer has in mind.

I’d love to see an extended experience of this with movement and exploring this creepy hospital. Obviously that’s a much bigger project and I’m just spitballing. There’s a part of me not completely against the idea of moving my arms to roll a wheelchair around either, as silly as that sounds. Nonetheless, Hospitality VR is definitely on my list to check out even if it terrifies me.

More mini-previews will be added to this list as I try other demos. I’ve got a few VR games I plan on playing before the event ends. Try not to forget that certain demos will only be playable until June 22, 1 p.m. Eastern. It’s also possible that some release dates in this list may change as developers update their plans.

Quick honorable mention goes to Ghostrunner, which I played through several times when the demo was first revealed recently.

john adam

Monday 21st of June 2021

Steam is having a Game Festival and it is a great time to discover independent, small and medium-sized games. I really, really hope steam does this again next year, having a convention at home where people just get to show you the cool shit they've been working on is really nice.