The many demos of Summer Game Fest 2024

It’s one of my favorite times of the year: the twinkle in the eyes of many an indie developer, the smell of rampant consumerism wafting off of the advertisements and WORLD PREMIERE teasers from AAA companies, the buzz of energy radiating off of Geoff Keighly like a hot parking lot blacktop. It’s Not-E3, or the Summer Game Fest! And with it, comes the deluge of demos for upcoming games during Steam Next Fest, which happens a lot more regularly than I can manage to keep up with. But I do try to hit it up around the benchmark time of summer convention season, which is… about now! This year’s pickings felt like they were largely cursed, and I don’t know if it was my new computer simply being far too powerful for games to run, or if it was just the stain of unoptimization hitting me sideways, but I was not having a lot of luck playing a LOT of games. Those issues, mixed with a schedule that’s jam-packed with cleaning before the summer air TRULY strikes down upon us, and, well… I didn’t get to shotgun quite as many of the demos as I was initially hoping to. But I did manage to play some! And I had some stand-out favorites! Here’s the list of what I played, along with some initial thoughts and impressions.


This was EASILY one of my favorite games of the bunch, if not my favorite one flat out. REKA is a game I’ve been waiting for quite some time to check out, as it includes a lot of my favorite things. Well, by that I mean cats and the fantasy of being a witch who lives in the woods. what REKA offered was merely a taste of the fantastical life of Baba Yaga, where you get to help an old woman bring to life a giant chicken house to do… I don’t know what in, because the demo cut off at that point. But what I do know is that you’ll get to decorate that chicken house to your heart’s content, while also helping people in the village. It comes out next month, which effectively means I’m going to become a full time REKA streamer at that point. Nothing about it didn’t satisfy – the base building, the puzzle solving, the coziness, the folklore. For me, it hit on every note. Can’t wait to check out the full release.

Bloodrush: Undying Wish

Bloodrush: Undying Wish was, to my chat’s insistence that I found myself ill equipped to disagree with, Hades with a lot less flash. Combat-wise, there was a lot to share between the aforementioned reference, but with its own set of interesting mechanics. For instance, a lot of the gameplay asked of its player to vary up your styles of combat merely to stay alive, recover health, and keep moving through levels. Combos were a huge factor. Stylistically, it was minimal, which isn’t that big of a deal. I liked the style, and the gameplay was fine, but also wasn’t entirely grabbing me, personally. I’d say if you’re a fan of the Hades loop without as much of the visual novel flair Hades has to offer, you might want to take a look at this one.

Fantastic Haven

I really liked this one as well, though I didn’t really sink into it quite as much as I might have on a segment like Try it Tuseday. Fantastic Haven is kind of like Planet Zoo or Jurassic World Evolution, where you’re building a sanctuary for endangered fantasy creatures in a sandbox setting. I’m super into things that have a fantasy/magic spin (if that wasn’t obvious) so I was already into this idea. Mechanically, it operates about the same as the previously mentioned references, where you need to micromanage each creature based on their wants/needs. I don’t think this necessarily suffers from a lack of detail either, so if either of those games were your bag then Fantastic Haven might be something worth checking out.

The Crush House

The Crush House has this absolute chaos energy that I’m here for. As a people watcher, it scratches a very specific itch. Fans of the early era of reality television are going to love what this game is about too – think basically about The Real World, but if you were the film crew of the show and your main goal was to catch footage of some of the most outrageous moments of the cast – or stoke the fires of some under-the-table drama that was about to pop off for the sake of entertainment. Apparently, there’s even more of a story arc the further in you get? This game comes out in the first week or so of August so I’ll definitely be revisiting it. It strikes a similar nostalgia chord as something like Hypnospace Outlaw, while meshing together with the vibe of a cozy but chaotic life sim that I think could become a sleeper hit.

Dungeons of Hinterberg

I’m a big fan of dungeon crawlers, so the interest for Dungeons of Hinterberg was already present. While I truly love the fantasy genre, and will play just about any dark fantasy dungeon crawler I lay eyes on, the unique thing about Dungeons of Hinterberg is that it’s a dungeon crawler that isn’t set in some kind of grim dark setting at all. It’s more of a modern day dungeon crawler where you still get to master magic and wield a sword, but it’s like you’re in a ski resort doing all of this instead. Somehow it manages to turn dungeon crawling into a cozy event, while still making it interesting enough to capture a more purist audience. Looking forward to this title either way – it releases in a couple of weeks!

Just Crow Things

Take Untitled Goose Game, add a crow, and you basically have Just Crow Things, a cute little chaos adventure from Unbound Creations – they made a game called Rain On Your Parade, among many others, that was super cute and super fun as well. Little Kitty Big City is another game that fits into this genre… what would these be called, sandbox chaos? Either way, Just Crow Things knows exactly what it wants to be, and doesn’t have to work too hard to win you over. If anything, I only wish it had a multiplayer component – something I don’t often find myself saying, but as the member of a team constantly looking for fun chaos of this brand to play together, this would be a total win. Even without it, I’ll likely sink some time into it on stream for the delight of others.

Stay With Me! Alien Abduction Story

I had some fairly high hopes going into this game, because I’m a fan of horror and I feel like we don’t have enough alien abduction horror games out there. It seems to be a subgenre on the rise, which is why the trailer for Stay With Me caught my attention. What the game has to offer isn’t too far from what it represents in the trailer either, and though some of it in the demo’s presentation fell short of my expectations, I’m still looking forward to checking the game out. It has a unique mash-up of walking simulator, found footage VHS-style aesthetic, and old school survival horror flair that I think it could be an interesting experience. It tells the story of a young woman who goes missing in 1999, and we’re left with the last few hours of known footage from her camera.


Quite possibly one of the best games I played during my time with this year’s Summer Games Fest/Next Fest lot of titles, FUMES is like Mad Max and Twisted Metal brought to life in a delightfully retro aesthetic. There are explosions. There is car customization. There are boss fights. There are quests. There is a bangin’ soundtrack. There is NOT a release date yet, but there IS a demo and you would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t at least download it and try it out. FUMES is hard to explain, because at its core it says exactly what it is on paper. But the experience of playing it is just real fun, and worth the ride.


This game had a demo out during the January edition of Next Fest, and I didn’t get around to trying it out. When I saw it making the rounds for summer, I grabbed it. And when it released a couple of days later, I grabbed that, too. Psychroma has this great art style, tense plot, and retro feel in both aesthetics and mechanics that place it firmly into a very uniquely good side-scrolling narrative journey. Honestly, above all else though, one of the trailers and dev introductions to the game is what sold me on Psychroma – the story centers around a dystopian cyberpunk future where you’re trying to piece together broken memories of who you are, and what happened to you. Knowing the complexity of the story being told here, without spoiling too much, made me curious enough to not only give the demo a spin, but pick up the full release for a (coming very soon) full playthrough. It’s a point and click, and between its weirdness and psychological discomfort, firmly seated in the “my kind of thing” genre of games.

Wizard of Legend 2

I loved the first Wizard of Legend game, which has gone down in gaming history to be one of the better action roguelike games of its time. Naturally, a sequel seemed like it should be a no brainer, and I think because of this facts Wizard of Legend 2 was entering into Summer Game Fest and Steam Next Fest with a lot of hype surrounding it. I’m sure it still has a lot of that hype driving behind it for its inevitable release, but for me? I was a bit disappointed. I know that Hades was a thundering force of gaming to be reckoned with – it had a delightful mash-up of visual novel, dating sim, and action roguelike that caught the attention of many, and rightfully so. I think I’ve become fatigued by the amount of copycats that have emerged in its wake, and so for Wizard of Legend 2 to follow suit and become a clone of Hades, to me, felt like a step in the wrong direction. I’m sure many will enjoy it still, and for what it’s worth it does play fairly well. I may even revisit it! But I wasn’t into the demo, sorry to say.

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