In a nutshell: The Steam Game Fest just kicked off today. The Spring 2022 edition has more games to preview and demo than you could realistically get to, even if you hit up ten titles a day. As always, it's an indie showcase, so don't go looking for triple-A names. That said, there are plenty of quality titles to try out and get behind. We'll give you the first few to check out, and then you're on your own.
Steam's sporadically bi-annual games festival, Next Fest, commenced on Monday, offering demos and Early Access to hundreds of upcoming indie titles. There's so much out there it's almost overwhelming, but Next Fest runs through Sunday, so there is plenty of time to try out anything that piques your interest. I won't attempt to make a comprehensive list, but there are a few intriguing titles I genuinely want to take for a spin.
Blacktail, from indie studio The Parasight, is an action-adventure based on the Slavic legend of the Baba Jaga---a terrifying forest witch---but how did she become that way? The game features archery as a primary gameplay mechanic, for which I have a weakness. My love of the bow is what hooked me on Crysis, Far Cry, and Skyrim, to name a few. The game also allows you to make choices to guide the protagonist into becoming the horrific Baba Jaga of lore or a benevolent protector of the forest.
Space Wreck is a charming retro RPG with the 1990s GUI to prove it. The studio, Pahris Entertainment, says it was inspired by the original Fallout with an "extreme focus on roleplaying." To that end, the maps of the old derelict space station you land on remain hidden until you explore them. According to the trailer (above), roles include "explorer, investigator, soldier, engineer, diplomat, or just a jerk." The developers admit the game is short but has replay value because of its branching narrative and dice-like roleplaying mechanic.
Batora: Lost Haven is a top-down hack-n-slash with twin-stick shooter mechanics. It's colorful and has graphics similar to the old original Beyond Good and Evil. It's got a complex narrative where your decisions matter. Puzzle elements are reminiscent of Tomb Raider but with supernatural powers. Its uniqueness is its double health system. In this game, you utilize your mind and physical prowess and have a health bar for each. If one or the other gets depleted, you die.
All of these titles currently have demos ready to download. As part of Game Fest, the developers are also playing them live. Space Wreck is in Steam Early Access if you are into playing unfinished games before everyone else.
Steam's Game Fest runs until February 28, giving you plenty of time to browse around for hidden gems, play demos, watch others play, and listen to the studio talk about the game's development.