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Steam Game Festival demos are live – here are some highlights

The Steam Game Festival Summer Edition is here, and with it, a giant mass of free game demos that you can enjoy in lieu of E3. The festival follows up on previous events around The Game Awards and GDC, but is now bigger than ever, with tons of demos now available. In the interest of making it a bit easier for you to decide what to play, we’re running down some of the stuff we’re most excited to check out.

The Steam Game Festival is live as of today, and will last until June 22 at 10:00 PDT / 13:00 EDT / 18:00 BST. You can head to the official landing page to see everything, or keep scrolling for links to our recommendations.

Perhaps the biggest title of the bunch is Grounded, the next game from Obsidian. The venerable RPG makers are taking their story-driven approach into the world of survival games, and its Honey, I Shrunk the Kids-inspired micro-world promises plenty of unique flavour for the genre.

You also don’t want to miss Everspace 2, an open-world, action-driven take on space combat that’s best described as ‘Rogue Squadron meets Diablo’. I got to play a very early demo last year, and it felt fantastic even then – I’m very much looking forward to diving back in.

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Fans of RPG games need to check out Haven, a gorgeous dual-protagonist role-playing adventure from The Game Bakers – the studio behind boss rush hit, Furi. It’s aiming for a mature take on a romantic relationship where you control both halves of the couple, and its fantastic art design and impressively full-featured RPG systems have made it one of my most anticipated indie games.

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Fae Tactics is another notable one to watch – a Final Fantasy Tactics-inspired take on turn-based, tactical role-playing.

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Cris Tales is a fabulous-looking JRPG love letter, with hand-drawn art and a time-travelling story where actions in the past create new consequences in the future as you play.

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If you, like me, are never going to get sick of well-executed 2D Metroidvanias, Gestalt: Steam & Cinder has made a terrific first impression with its early trailers. It’s got some of the best pixel art I’ve seen in ages, a big focus on both narrative and in-depth combat, plus a reactive steampunk setting.

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Rock of Ages 3: Make and Break is another of Ace Team’s wildly, er, wild medieval bowling-simulation-meets-tower-offence titles, and if you haven’t checked out the series before, this is a terrific chance to change that.

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Mix Superhot, Slay the Spire, and a little bit of John Wick to get Fights in Tight Spaces, a fisticuff-focused take on card combat.

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If you’re looking for lovely 2D puzzle platforming, check in on A Juggler’s Tale, a narrative-driven platformer where you take control of a string puppet.

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If you’re looking for something a bit bigger-budget, Desperados 3 is offering up a taste of its Wild West take on tactical stealth, alongside today’s full launch.

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THQ Nordic’s inexplicable remake of Destroy All Humans is also available, so perhaps we can finally answer the question that’s been plaguing us since its announcement: ‘why?’

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Strategy fans can also check in for an early look at Stronghold Warlords, which takes the classic series of strategy games out of medieval Europe and out into Asia.

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Windjammers is the best classic arcade game you’ve never played, and the fact that it’s getting a sequel in Windjammers 2 courtesy of Dotemu proves that there’s still some hope in the world.

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The Escapists is going in a whole different direction for The Survivalists, an island survival sandbox that – and this is the important part – lets you build an army of vicious, combat-trained monkeys.

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Gloomwood is the next game from the creator of Dusk, but instead of throwing back to Quake, this one builds on the classics of both the immersive sim and survival horror genres.

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If, somehow, you’re still on the fence about the Quantic Dream catalogue, you can check out Steam demos of Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, and Detroit: Become Human today.

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For an independent take on cinematic narrative adventures, The Uncertain: Light At the End has you unraveling the the mystery of a world where humans have been replaced by robots.

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Ran: Lost Islands is providing a medieval melee take on battle royale, which pits warriors from vastly different cultures against each other, For Honor-style.

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Spiritfarer is – well, really, I’ve just gotta use the official quote here. Spiritfarer “is a cozy management game about dying”, where you build and manage a ferry to the land of the dead.

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If you’re looking for some party-flavoured fun, Rawmen fits the bill – the burly, beefy, muscular, noodle-filled bill.

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There are few things I love more than giant monsters and videogame fishing, yet I could not have been less prepared for Kaiju Fishing would show up to serve me the game I never knew I wanted.

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For you tabletop role-playing enthusiasts, Solasta: Crown of the Magister directly adapts the SRD 5.1 ruleset into a new turn-based tactical RPG, bringing modern Dungeons & Dragons gameplay into a fresh setting.

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Skatebird. You’re a bird. You skate. This adorable take on Tony Hawk (Tony Canary?) has been making waves since its first trailer, and now you’ve got a chance to check it out for yourself.

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