Steam Next Fest: 4 Demos and Previews

4 of the Steam Next Fest's most interesting offerings.

SUMMARY

  • Astral Tracks is simple fun.
  • Reveil is dripping with style.
  • Blood West is disappointing.
  • Robocop kicks ass.
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The Steam Next Fest is currently taking place with tons of demos currently live on Steam for upcoming titles including Ghostrunner 2, Japanese Drift Master, and The Last Exterminator. Between this awesome Steam event happening and a few kind PR folks sending me over codes, I was able to take a look at four exciting upcoming demos. These are four very different games, each offering their own unique style and ideas. Checking them out was a (mostly) fun experience, let’s go over what I played during the Steam Next Fest.

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Steam Next Fest: Astral Tracks

The first game from the Steam Next Fest that I played was called Astral Tracks. This is essentially an online platformer with a focus on spreedrunning. If the awkwardly sluggish pace of Fall Guys felt too slow for you, then Astral Tracks may be what you are looking for.

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The game is primarily designed to be a competitive online co-op title, however as I was short on time, I opted to play against the inbuilt AI. Thankfully though, these bots are no slouches. The game never goes easy on the player, demanding a flawless run from them if they want to be victorious. One minor slip up and you can kiss goodbye to that first place spot.

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I really respected how challenging the game felt right from the off, as it made the learning curves of each new obstacle introduced feel genuinely rewarding. I also appreciated the simple, yet vast aesthetic of racing anime inspired character models through a floating obstacle course in the depths of outer space.

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My one major issue with the game came with regards to players deaths. The frequency of these deaths was never the problem and they usually felt like my own fault which is important. However, after the player character slips off of the platform, they are then seen tumbling through empty space for an exorbitant amount of time.

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During this ridiculously long process, there is no quick reset button that can be pressed. Instead, the player is forced to sit and watch their character ragdoll through nothingness while losing place after place in the race that is still going on.

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If you are going to have frequent player deaths occur in your game, then you have to have the reset process be pretty much instantaneous in the style of Super Meat Boy or Hotline Miami. The unnecessary frustration of being forced to helplessly sit still while waiting for your character to eventually die will have you banging your head off of a wall before too long.

Steam Next Fest: Reveil

Please stop me if you have heard this one before: Reveil is an upcoming first person horror/puzzle game in which a father riddled with emotional guilt must track down his missing daughter through a haunted environment. Yeah, this isn’t the most original demo of the Steam Next Fest, although that does not mean that it isn’t worth checking out.

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The most striking thing about Reveil, is undoubtedly its sense of style. From its exquisite graphical presentation, to its fantastic musical score which works in harmony with the visuals to create a rich, layered feeling of atmosphere that sets the tone for the rest of the experience masterfully, this is a very well-made game.

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It is this dripping sense of style that has me interested in checking out the full game, despite the fact that it is yet another familiar experience within a tired genre. In terms of its premise and gameplay, Reveil may be a clone of a clone of a clone, but it is undoubtedly the coolest clone of the bunch and the coolest game of the Steam Next Fest.

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Blood West

Although Blood West is not officially a part of the Steam Next Fest, the publishers were kind enough to grant me a code to the game a few weeks ago. As I was playing through the other Steam Next Fest games anyway, I decided that this was the perfect time for me to check it out.

The game’s Steam page describes Blood West as; “an immersive stealth FPS horror set in a wicked Wild West.” This game could not sound more up my alley if it tried to. I love crunchy, retro-style FPS boomer shooters, I love horror, and I love the backdrop of the Old West, so I felt as though this title had been made for me when I first read that description.

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Unfortunately, Blood West turned out to be the biggest let-down on this list. I immediately took umbrage with the fact that there is very limited controller support for the game. Essentially, the controller’s analogue sticks can be used to move the player character around, but for any input command, – from attacking enemies, to jumping and crouching, – the keyboard must be used.

I realize that some will consider players who use controller on PC like myself to be blasphemers, but in this day and age, having controller support in your game should be an essential feature. Even after messing around with button-mapping settings, all that the controller was good for was moving the character from A to B.

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Also read: 5 More Underrated Horror Games That You Should Check Out Now!

I persisted with the awkwardness of keyboard controls in the hope that the game itself would be worth it, but unfortunately it was a fruitless endeavour in the end. Blood West is exceedingly basic and mediocre across the board, offering an unpolished experience that doesn’t feel as though it has anything new or unique on offer.

Steam Next Fest: Robocop: Rogue City

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Thankfully, this last title was waiting to save the day. Robocop: Rogue City is fantastic and was my highlight of the Steam Next Fest by a clear margin. As a huge fan of the original Paul Verhoeven movie, I am happy to report that Robocop: Rogue City manages to capture that iconic feel and aesthetic perfectly.

Also adding a feeling of authenticity to the game is Peter Weller, who returns to play the character for the first time in over 30 years. That commanding tone that sits perfectly between human and machine is a joy to listen to and brings with it an instant feeling of nostalgia.

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Other iconic imagery is also included such as the iconic gun, which really packs a punch, felling similar to how Kratos’ axe feels in the recent God of War games. Popping heads is extraordinarily satisfying and Murphy even swings the gun around his finger after a shootout before returning it to its inbuilt leg holster. Unfortunately, heads were the only thing that popped for me. There is apparently enemy limb dismemberment present in the game, although it never occurred during my playthrough.

Sadly, some of the lip syncing is off when certain characters are talking, which breaks immersion and causes the game to feel a bit cheap. This is hopefully something that will be addressed in a patch before the full game releases at the beginning of next month.

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Most importantly though, the visuals in Robocop: Rogue City look good and the game feels fun and satisfying to play. I cannot wait to check out the full game when it releases. If you are going to play just one demo from the Steam Next Fest, then I implore you to make it this one.

This icon is the highlight of the Steam Next Fest.
This icon is the highlight of the Steam Next Fest.

And that concludes our round up of the Steam Next Fest demos and previews beyond. Let us know in the comments section what you played during the Steam Next Fest and let us know whether you agree with our impressions of the games listed above. Keep an eye out for our full Robocop: Rogue City review when it drops, as well as our other cool upcoming content.

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Written by Daniel Boyd

Articles Published: 148

Dan is one of FandomWire's Gaming Content Leads and Editors. Along with Luke Addison, he is one of the site's two Lead Video Game Critics and Content Co-ordinators. He is a 28-year-old writer from Glasgow. He graduated from university with an honours degree in 3D Animation, before pivoting to pursue his love for critical writing. He has also written freelance pieces for other sites such as Game Rant, WhatCulture Gaming, KeenGamer.com and The Big Glasgow Comic Page. He loves movies, video games and comic books.