With an abundance of triple-A games being released with what seems like one every month now, it’s easy to feel burnt out or overdone with so many games that promise the world and deliver on nothing. However, if you do ever feel burnt out or done with gaming, a great way to get over it is with an indie game. Nothing but honest, passionate, and hard-working developers who truly care for their game, striving to innovate and make something great for their fans.
Finding out about certain upcoming indie games can be hard; due to financial restrictions, marketing isn’t always an option for these indie companies, as indie studios can’t afford to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for their games to be marketed. However, the best way these studios can get publicity for free is from the Steam Next Fest, where Valve showcases a plethora of games from small yet dedicated and passionate studios that just want to showcase their games to the public.
So, with that in mind, and the Steam Next Fest that has just come and gone, here are the ten most exciting-looking indie games that were showcased at the event.
Number 10 – Cult Of The Lamb
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Nintendo Switch.
Release Date: August 11, 2022
Cult of the Lamb is best described as Animal Crossing meets the action-adventure roguelike genre. The game is being created by the folks over at Massive Monster’s studio and is being published by Devolver Digital. From a story and setting viewpoint, all we know about this game is that players are cast in the role of a possessed lamb, who just before being killed for a ritual, is saved from annihilation by some sort of lamb god, and in order to repay him for saving us, we, as the player, must build a following, aka a cult, in his name.
Jumping in with the first impressions from the demo, it was a short yet concise showcase, which perfectly captured what this game has to offer. The game has a very charming and eye-catching art style, very similar to Don’t Starve but more colourful with its overall choice of colours. The gameplay overall seemed simple and not very complex.
However, this can obviously change when we get our hands on the full game. You go from level to level until you reach the boss. Think of how Hades worked, with its levels of progression going up each floor until you hit a boss or a break room. The game has a card dealer system, where you can occasionally run into a dealer who lets you pick a card which then transforms you, giving you benefits such as more health, mana, etc.
Overall, the game seemed great, with a catchy soundtrack, solid sound design, and great enemy and boss design too. We didn’t get to see much of how the cult system works, but overall from what the demo showcased, it looks like it can not only be fun but also an intricate system to be played with.
Number 9 – Moonscars
Release Date: Summer 2022
Another brilliant game on the list is Moonscars. created by the folks over at Black Mermaid. Moonscars is a 2D hack and slash platformer with a dark fantasy theme. From what we managed to play with the demo, it’s abundantly clear that Moonscars is going to be a very special game.
Moonscars is best described as dead cells meeting dark souls at first glance. And if that doesn’t sell you, I don’t know what will. What was so brilliant about Moonscars was the overall impression it left with its short yet brilliant demo. From the amazing environmental art to its overall vibe and atmosphere.
Firstly, the gameplay, which is the most important thing in this style of game, was amazing. From combat with swordplay to combat with spells, everything just seems to work so well here. The character progression seems insane as well, with so many options to pick from with upgrades, weapons, and spells. The replayability factor looks like it could be endless here. I cannot stress how good the game felt to play, from exploration to the swings of the sword everything the demo showed was polished perfectly.
However, what really drives home the game is the fact that the overall world you explore and the story behind it actually has meaning and looks like the story could be not just a part of the game but the main pull factor into playing the game. In conclusion, Moonscars looks like it could be a huge hit due to its visual excellence, fantastic gameplay, and overall strong-looking story. That left me wanting more. Definitely put this one on your radar.
Number 8 – Melatonin
Platforms: PC and Nintendo Switch
Release Date: September 16, 2022
The short description of Melatonin is that it’s a rhythm game about dreams and reality merging together. And it’s exactly what it says it is.
From the studio over at Half Asleep, Melatonin is as addictive as the art style is eye-catching. Melatonin is a simple rhythm game when it comes to the genre when talking about gameplay. However, what makes the game stand out so much is its beautiful art style and just phenomenal soundtrack that goes with it.
The game has a simple progression system; the better you do on each level, the more stars you gain, therefore allowing you to have access to more levels. However, What is amazing about melatonin is that it knows what it is. A great-looking rhythm game that has gorgeous visuals and a great gameplay loop. The soundtrack is designed in a way that works so perfectly with the gameplay, that this is really where the charm lies with Melatonin, as each right move syncs perfectly with the soundtrack, therefore, giving you a much greater incentive to actually perfect the level.
I’m sure if you aren’t into rhythm games, melatonin won’t sway you. However, if you are, this is definitely one you want to pick up, as it was just a pure joy to play.
Number 7 – Gloomwood
Release Date: August 16, 2022 (Early access)
It’s clear from the getgo that Gloomwood is definitely a game that should be on your watchlist.
Publishers’ New Blood Interactive has a game on their hands that looks like a beautiful love letter to the fans of the original Thief series.
Gloomwood is a stealth, immersive sim which looks to be a game which is going to have you gripped all the way until the game finishes. The synopsis reads Trapped in a dark, Victorian city consumed by an ancient curse, you must plan your survival and daring escape using nothing but stealth. which just sounds incredible.
A full release date is not set in stone yet for the game. However, there is a playable demo out as of this writing, and it is definitely worth playing.
This is definitely one to look out for, as the feedback and overall reception from fans and testers has been overwhelmingly positive.
Number 6 – Selaco
Release date: 2225… (Unknown)
What originally started out as a mod built into GZDOOM has now become a fully-fledged title of its own. Selaco is what happens when you take the cyberpunk genre and mix it with doom and sprinkle on top of that developers that know how to make a kick-ass game, and here you have Selaco.
Selaco is being designed and published by the great team at altered orbit studios. They described Selaco as a first-person shooter with its main inspirations being the immersive sim System Shock and the classic fps F.E.A.R.
Selaco, out of all the games on the list, is one of the best when it comes to overall gameplay and game design. The gunplay felt incredible. No matter which gun you were using, even if it was just your fists, each option felt satisfying and deadly. The overall environment and sheer fun you can have with it is insane; literally everything you see can be destroyed, broken into, or simply damaged. The soundtrack was great as well, really adding to the tempo of the game.
Overall, this title looks like it could end up on a lot of people’s favourite lists, not just for this summer fest, but for when it is eventually released. Unfortunately, that is the only issue with the game, as it is scheduled to be released in 2225… so keep an eye out for it, okay?
Number 5 – Potion Permit
Platforms: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC
Release Date: September 22, 2022
The wonderful people at MassHive Media are currently working on one of the most charming-looking games showcased at the Steam Next Fest, Potion Permit.
The game has you set in a town known as Moonbury, and you are the best chemist in the town. You’ll be tending to the sick, diagnosing patients with symptoms, gathering resources, brewing potions, and much more,
Potion Permit is one of those games that you can just pop on after a long day or stressful time, and just sink in and relax in the beautiful world full of life-like and charming characters that you’ll get to know and love. Overall, potion permit will not be for everyone, just as Stardew is not for everyone, but for those who it will be for, they will undoubtedly enjoy it, as there is so much to enjoy here.
Number 4 – GhostSong
Release Date: 2022
The idea for Ghost Song began when its creator, Matt White, who before Ghost Song was a comic book artist, had the idea for a 2D metriodvania-style game, which has a huge emphasis on atmosphere, isolation, and mystery.
Ghost Song began its life all the way back in 2013, when White set up a kickstarter for the game. The Kickstarter was incredibly successful, and ever since he has been hard at work to produce this truly incredible experience.
Ghost Song isn’t shy about its inspiration from Metriod. However, the game is clearly much more than that. What makes GhostSong so special is the overall sense of exploration you have with the world and the atmosphere the game beckons you throughout the entirety of the game. Nothing else at Next Fest had the ability to create such an atmosphere as GhostSong. With a pure sense of bewilderment and isolation, the game, due to the overall visual presentation, perfectly picked soundtrack, and overall vibe, managed to nail the tone that the game set out to create.
Furthermore, it’s not just the atmosphere or world that makes the game so great; the gameplay was fantastic as well. Tough but fair is the perfect way to describe it. Nothing at the time felt cheap or unfair. This is easily a must-play from Steam’s next fest, as what makes this all the more impressive is that this game is a one-man team. And the fact that it’s his first game ever, yep, one person has made a game look this good with their first attempt, truly insane, so definitely give the demo a go at least.
Number 3 – Deadlink
Release Date: Early 2022
Deadlink is a fast-paced cyberpunk FPS mixed with rogue-like elements. Created by the talented team at GrubyEntertainment, this is definitely one you should be looking out for.
Deadlink, out of all the shooters that were showcased during the event, looks like it could be the most interesting from a mechanical viewpoint. From the overall fluidity of combat to how the guns and movement feel responsive and powerful, Deadlink looks like the perfect game to hop on when you want to feel the adrenaline and go for perfect runs.
What makes Deadlink so special is the overall polish and vibe the game brings, on top of the extremely addictive and high-quality gameplay aspects. The overall arsenal of weapons and upgrades at your disposal is just extremely impressive, with each gun really having a unique aspect of its own and there not just being one gun to spam or make others pointless. The upgrade system not only adds variety and reason to keep playing the game, but the overall upgrades presented really make the time you spend upgrading yourself feel worth it.
Definitely check this one out, as this was one of the more addictive and eye-catching games showcased if this sort of FPS is your thing.
Number 2 – Nine Souls
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series X
Release Date: June quarter 2, 2023
If I told you that you could play a Sekiro-lite esc style game with gorgeous 2D visuals, a great soundtrack, fantastic gameplay, and an interesting yet mysterious story, you would probably say, “I NEED THIS NOW.” Well good news, that’s exactly what Nine Sols is.
From the team over at Red Candle Games, Nine Sols is a lore-rich, beautifully hand-drawn 2D action-platformer, which isn’t shy about its inspiration when it comes to gameplay inspired by Sekiro-style focused combat.
Out of every game on the list, Nine Sols felt the most exciting to me for a number of reasons. Firstly, the overall story looks like the strongest I got to see during this Steam Next Fest showcase, and that’s not to put down any other game on this list or that was showcased, but it is just simply due to the time they have taken to showcase certain aspects of lore with items and such and the fact that the more you uncover and play, the more you learn about just what the hell is going on in this world.
Furthermore, mechanically speaking, the combat is generally really good here. The parry system and overall combat don’t feel cheap, they feel really responsive and fun, which is the most important aspect. And the overall world design and art style for the game are extremely eye-catching and beautiful with their choice of colours and design layout, and the design choices for the enemies look great as well.
Overall, the game is great and if you enjoy games with this sort style of gameplay or how the lore and world presents itself, then definitely check this one out.
Number 1 – Metal: Hellsinger
Platforms: PS5, Xbox Series S|X and PC
Release Date: September 15, 2022
To finish off the list, we have the game that I am most excited about that was showcased during the show, Metal Hellsinger.
Metal Hellsinger is being brought to us by the talented people over at Outsiders studio, who have industry veterans working on the team, such as David Goldfarb, who was the Lead Game Director on Payday 2 and Lead Designer on Battlefield 3 and Battlefield: Bad Company 2. It even has industry veteran Troy Baker voicing the game’s narration throughout the entirety of the game. So yeah, this game has some extremely talented people working on it.
Furthermore, the overall gameplay is insanely well done here. Out of everything the Steam Next Fest had to offer, this was definitely the most addictive and highest quality in terms of mechanics and gameplay. The responsiveness of the soundtrack to my guns’ shooting, reloading, or character dashing really made the game feel highly intense and rewarding for when I did manage to perfectly reload and then kill everything on screen beat by beat, on top of the just immense feel of the guns without anything needing to be added.
Overall, Metal Hellsinger’s is best described as BPM: Bullets per Minute meets Doom. The demo was only around 10-15 minutes, but I found myself just continuously replaying the demo even after the first time I beat the game. From the immense level layouts to the fantastic enemy design to the overall truly god-tier experience from gameplay to music, this game is a must-play. I wouldn’t be surprised if when this game is released it ends up on many people’s “Game of the Year” lists, as it truly is that good of a game.
Where To Find These Games.
That just about wraps up only ten out of the 25 plus amazing games showcased at the Steam Next Fest event. If any of these games did interest you, don’t forget to click the links and wishlist any of the games you liked the look of with the links provided down below. As with any game, wishlisting allows developers to take these numbers and show investors and publishers how many people are interested in their game, allowing them to negotiate much better deals and such, without you even having to purchase the game.
This has been Jack from 9 to 5 gamers signing off.
1. Metal Hellsinger – Wishlist Here !
2. Nine Sols – Wishlist Here !
3. Deadlink – Wishlist Here !
4. GhostSong – Wishlist Here !
5. Potion Permit – Wishlist Here !
6. Selaco – Wishlist Here !
7. Gloomwood – Wishlist Here !
8. Melatonin – Wishlist Here !
9. Moonscars – Wishlist Here !
10. Cult Of The Lamb – Wishlist Here !