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The best demos to play during this week's Steam Next Fest

(Image credit: Hugecalf Studios)

Steam Next Fest is here again, once again cramming a ridiculous amount of free game demos into a single week that is nowhere near long enough to play them all, or even play most of them. A lot of the demos are for games you might have seen during not-E3, so you're no doubt itching to get downloading and dive in.

But where to begin? To help you keep from getting completely buried, we've picked out a few Steam Next Fest Demos to get started with. Just don't forget there are hundreds more—yes, hundreds—so don't feel like you need to stop at our recommendations. We're just giving you a little shove.

Turbo Golf Racing

If you're lamenting Rocket League no longer being in the Steam store, this might be the next best thing. The rocket cars and giant soccer balls sure do ring a bell, but Turbo Golf Racing doesn't take place in a cozy little arena. With up to 8 players, you race with turbo-charged cars down a long, winding course and try to score your ball in the hole waiting at the end. Along the way you grab weapons and power-ups while trying to do golf things like avoiding sandtraps and curving your shots around trees. Golf, but in a rocket car, and it's a race. The title just makes sense.

Metal: Hellsinger

If you like heavy metal and blasting demons with shotguns, combine the two. Metal: Hellsinger is a first-person head-bangin' rhythm shooter, so it's like Doom but you're timing your shots to the thumping beat of the soundtrack. The better you do and the more monsters you kill, the faster the rhythm and more complex the music becomes. "I didn't even notice the music rising to a crescendo beneath my slaughter at first, until suddenly some guy started screaming in my ear, and then the guitars were grinding and the double-kick was speed-bagging my eardrums and man, I was killing, and I was rocking," said Andy when he played a build back in 2020. We can only imagine the new demo has even more beats and more blood.

Roots of Pacha

The easiest way to describe it is Stardew Valley but set in the stone age. Forget about buying seeds from a shop: stores haven't been invented yet. You'll have to forage to find new plants to farm, fish for food, and manage your little prehistoric community. Develop tools, discover ways to preserve meat, domesticate animals, and gradually bring new technology to the stone age as you learn skills like pottery and metalworking. The charming art and novel setting make this one to watch when it releases later in 2022. Katie was charmed by an alpha build earlier in the year, and if you're a fan of farming and town life sim games, you should really find time this week to try the new demo.

Midnight Fight Express

It's a top-down beat-em-up, but so much more. Fight your way across an entire city in a single night, engaging in melee brawls with mobs of gangsters, piloting boats and riding on top of trucks and speeding trains, blasting away with guns or keeping it personal with your fists. Level up as you battle, unlock new moves and skills, and turn everyday objects like furniture and toilet plungers into weapons. Midnight Fight Express is like an action movie if the parts between the action were also filled with action.

Cult of the Lamb

Take a bit of RimWorld, mash it up with The Binding of Isaac, and feed it to adorable yet violent woodland critters. In Cult of the Lamb you're not just running a cult, you're trying to run the best, most powerful cult. Recruit followers, perform rituals, give sermons, and battle mobs of non-believers as you spread your influence and grow in power. Why be a lamb when you can be a lamb god? It's adorable and yet disturbing, and definitely worth a look this week ahead of its full launch in August.

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.