RPGamer Checks Out Steam Next Fest Summer 2024

With so many RPGs releasing each year it can be hard to keep track of which ones to keep an eye out for.  Luckily, Steam Next Fest comes around every few months to help narrow that down.  Well, here at RPGamer we took a look at a few of the publicly available demos during the summer 2024 edition of Steam Next Fest. Here are a few of the games worthy of shining a spotlight on.

Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn

Release Date: July 18, 2024
Publisher: Kepler Interactive
Developer: A44 Games


Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn’s demo opens with the main character Nor being sent on a mission to open a gate to a forbidden city that the armies of the dead are pouring out of. Upon her success and a hard dip into a river, she finds herself awoken by a small fox god named Enki. Nor is informed that she didn’t just open the gate for her allies, but also for an evil dark god, who almost immediately ravaged most of the planet. Now it’s up to Nor and Enki to find allies, free settlements, and build up strength to defeat the dark god. 

Combat in Flintlock is rhythmic, slow, and methodical, reminiscent of a Souls game. Nor can attack, block, and parry enemies, while also being able to use her flintlock pistol to interrupt and shred enemy armor. Encounters were usually a group of weak swarms of enemies that would attack Nor from off-screen, usually easily bested with some quick reflexes. Outside of this, combat focused on sub-bosses that appeared in settlements. Experience points are gained from combat, with a slight twist. There is a grading system that encourages Nor to switch up her tactics to rack up a higher multiplier of experience by the end of combat, however, if she is to expire in battle, she will lose all unused collected experience. Upon revival at the last save point, Nor will be required to return to the place of death to retrieve all lost experience. Overall, Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn seems to be gearing up to be a great Soulslike title in the upcoming months. Jahwon Corbett


Half-Baked Girls

Release Date: 2024
Publisher: MISTROLE
Developer: MISTROLE


Sometimes leaning heavily into nostalgia just clicks. Half-Baked Girls is one such instance, as playing through this retro turn-based RPG demo was a blast from beginning to end. There are a lot of little things that show care in it, including the wonderful leads Renee, a teenage runaway lost in the woods, and Mitka who lives in the newly haunted mansion wondering where her parents are. Humour and absurdity help downplay the horror aspects of the situation the heroines find themselves in. From flying poltergeist plates to sales-based flans that use PuddingPay(PP) as currency, there are a lot of amusing designs.

Half-Baked Girls has a combat system that is simple but can grow with a lot of little flourishes. Tarot cards, for example, are equipment that work both as magic spells and stat upgrades giving some needed customization to Renee and Mitka. Delving too far into the mansion is deterred by enemy strength growing quickly, which leads to some grinding done in each area before moving on. A fun quirk to combat is that enemies are always on-screen moving around, even during combat, so while tackling one enemy another can just wander in, prolonging the fight. All in all, the demo featured charming characters, a grand mysterious mansion to learn the history of, and a blast of early 3D turn-based RPG nostalgia that was a fun experience the whole time through. — Ryan Costa


Hero Emblems II

Release Date: To Be Announced
Publisher: HeatPot Games
Developer: HeatPot Games


One, two, three is all it takes in this match-3 RPG. Since the days I first played Puzzle Quest on my PlayStation 2 and witnessed what the marriage of RPG and match-3 games can accomplish, I was enamored by the concept. Hero Emblems II gave me that feeling again. Each party member gets a gem that, when matched in rows of three or higher, makes them perform attacks. This is a simple-to-grasp system that the game then builds upon. As it progresses, you are introduced to additional mechanics for chests, debuffs, and party swapping. Every layer slowly eases the player into a deep title that is initially simple to play.

This combat is embedded into a world map made out of simple paths networking between dungeons, with random encounters to buff up the wallet and character levels. Dungeons continue similarly but up the challenge of encounters and come with tough boss fights at the end. Every encounter here hits with life-threatening damage every couple of turns as a balancing act between healing and damage is made; managing to match four gems triggers a higher-tier attack, while five creates an ultimate gem that leads to a devastating special attack. This complexity of combat caused me to be drawn even more into the world of Hero Emblems II.  — Benedikt Geierhofer


Lords of Ravage

Release Date: Q3 2024
Publisher: Synthetic Domain
Developer: Synthetic Domain


Sometimes, playing as the bad guy is fun. In Lords of Ravage, players get to control Lord Berold, a knight who betrayed his king due to fundamental differences in how wars are won. With the rest of the world nipping at Berold’s heels, he recruits members of his Dark Alliance made up of fallen Dread Knights, former members of his company, and random villagers available to purchase. While traveling through the node-based overworld, players also have to carefully manage their resources. Recruiting units and upgrading their abilities don’t come easily. Other than event nodes that can give precious resources there are areas where Berold is attacked, utilizing a relatively simple 2.5D turn-based combat system. Depending on the fight, some stages of combat may have a time limit, before shifting to a final fight between the armies.

It is easy for Alliance members to lose health and hard for them to regain it. Each unit has permadeath, but, with enough coin or lucky overworld event nodes, they can be replaced. Experience is given to the unit types rather than the individual so that lessens the blow of losing helpers, but eventually not having a sizable army will catch up to Berold. With units selected from a batch of three at random during each stage, sometimes an ally near death will have to be sent out to be sacrificed. Berold can be summoned to easily win skirmishes, but since he doesn’t heal either, can be defeated if overused. Allies only have one support and one attack ability each, which can lead to combat feeling familiar after a time. How weighty consequences feel in the story and how much variety there is with abilities and units will be key to how deep Lords of Ravage will feel, but so far things are shaping up to be thoughtful and fun. — Ryan Costa


Metal Slug Tactics

Release Date: Q4 2024
Publisher: DotEmu
Developer: Leikir Studio


The frenetic run-and-gun action of the Metal Slug franchise initially seems like an odd match for the slow, thoughtful calculations often required in tactical RPGs. However, Metal Slug Tactics demonstrates the value of kicking the old standards once in a while to keep them from getting complacent. Conventional tactical RPG strategies quickly fail in this fast-paced world of commando warfare, where victory is all about sharp bursts of synchronized motion between points of cover. Characters accumulate damage resistance and adrenaline to fuel their special attacks by running, jumping, and other actions determined by their abilities. Turtling quickly leads to death, as enemies can dish out a lot of damage in a short time.

Synchronization forms the second prong of Metal Slug Tactics’s pincer attack on tactical RPG standards. Attacking with a weaker weapon prompts bonus attacks from any allies within range, encouraging flanking maneuvers that would be suicidal in a game with different priorities. The heroes are over-the-top action stars, and their world reflects that in its mechanics and its visuals. 

The generic Middle Eastern market stalls and weathered desert buildings of the demo’s one playable zone are expertly rendered in lush, animated pixels. Unfortunately, they evoke several stereotypes such as Arab zealots with scimitars, berserkers, and other orientalist depictions that are a long-standing aspect of Metal Slug games. Far more enjoyable are the wildly inventive machines of destruction, side gags, and the silly bravado of the main characters. The full release will feature three more zones, which promise increasing tactical complexity and opportunities for roguelite character advancement. — Zach Welhouse


Necro Story

Release Date: September 2024
Publisher: Rablo Games
Developer: Rablo Games


Necro Story opts for gameplay that has a lot of chaos in it. Since it is a 9v9 auto-battler, there are a lot of things happening at once. Players only fully control the protagonist Necromancer, who is customizable in visual features and name. The Necromancer is the final human around after a purge eliminated humanity centuries ago. This doesn’t affect the protagonist though as they start quipping with the soul of a long-dead rival immediately. Souls and how they are utilized by the Necromancer make up the core gameplay mechanic.

Mana consumption and cooldowns are the only thing that prevent the Necromancer’s abilities from being used repeatedly. The other members of the party follow auto-battle logic and just attack whom and when they see fit. Keeping an eye on ability cooldowns is important until something dies on the field. When defeated, an enemy’s soul becomes visible on-screen. Catching these souls is important as each one the Necromancer consumes gives characters an experience boost and builds up the capture meter. The defeated enemies zip about in a haphazard way, some easier to catch than others. When that capture meter gets maxed out players can drag a soul there to then be recruited to their ranks. The visual clutter is easy enough to follow and catching souls can be fun, especially since the monsters are pretty cute. As long as the critter variety continues to build up, Necro Story is shaping to be a fun, comedic, and accessible experience. — Ryan Costa



Release Date: To Be Announced
Publisher: iodine
Developer: iodine


PILLORY falls into the category of games with worlds being nonsensical to reality but following its internal logic paired with a simple two-color art style. In this surreal world you battle with two random options out of your skillset every turn. Some skills heal, some damage, and some are only situationally helpful as each round doesn’t always give what players will find useful. Damage is divided into three types; strength, occult, and emotional, with every enemy being weak to one. This system is rounded off and enhanced by a mood level that is influenced by enemy actions during their turn. Mood is raised by sticking with the randomly chosen combat options, while rerolling those options lowers the mood level. Low mood causes issues and high mood causes random wild beneficial effects. As such, PILLORY is a challenging balancing act that is quite fun to engage with. — Benedikt Geierhofer


Sky Oceans: Wings for Hire

Release Date: 2024
Publisher: PQube
Developer: Octeto Studios


Sky Oceans: Wings for Hire took me to the sky and under-delivered in actual play. While I liked the idea of flying through the air in a dinky little airship, controls were far too sensitive to make the flying a controlled experience and the combat that came with it was plagued by simplicity where the best course of action was to just spam the strongest ability available until you came out on top. While simple combat isn’t necessarily bad, a JRPG should offer at least a little incentive to be mentally engaged. This is not helped by the fact that every battle in the demo is scripted. Maybe with more freedom the full release has time to expand the combat system more.

Storywise the game intrigues more. A lost expedition costs the main protagonist their father while their mother carries an unknown secret. Lots of events that can play out in a lot of ways teach you slowly about the world and the characters in it. It may not be breaking new ground, but it still is a solid showing. A game that is hard to recommend despite a fun idea, as personally there’s little here to keep interest over a long time. Benedikt Geierhofer


Tactical Breach Wizards

Release Date: August 22, 2024
Publisher: Suspicious Developments
Developer: Suspicious Developments


Wizards are fun. XCOM-likes are fun. Wizards being used in an XCOM-like is just a recipe for double the excitement. That makes me thankful for Tactical Breach Wizards. The game focuses on having a simple yet strategic gameplay loop, while mixing in satirical and self-referential comedy into an easy-to-understand narrative.

Gameplay in Tactical Breach Wizards is its own puzzle, mixing in tactical combat with an interesting rewind mechanic. Each level is broken into separate rooms, with optional challenges alongside the main objectives. Characters breach the room with abilities that allow them to defenestrate their opponents or just knock them out with their basic attacks. Characters will be able to use all of their abilities every encounter and as such the player is encouraged to test different methods of completion and achieve the most optional objectives. It is a fun mix of thinking on your toes and considering every option before moving on. — Jahwon Corbett


Tiny Glade

Release Date: Q3 2024
Publisher: Pounce Light
Developer: Pounce Light


Sometimes it’s just nice to sit back and enjoy a game with little stakes. More often than not, those games are called “cozy” games by the community, and Tiny Glade fits that bill perfectly. Tiny Glade is a game about building small castles and hamlets in a serene glade. The demo is short, due to the area for building being so tiny, but it feels very cozy and can lead to some creative castle construction. Walls, towers, and even elevation can be swapped and changed. The game prides itself on not requiring any sort of management system or economy, so it will be easy to pick up and play and get lost in the artistry. — Jahwon Corbett


Tower of Mask

Release Date: 2024
Publisher: Papertip Studio
Developer: Papertip Studio


Tower of Mask is one of those cases where expectations are low, but the results are pleasantly surprising. Styled after older action-based dungeon crawlers, the game sees players walking through tunnels of square tiles one step at a time. The two main elements that come with that are combat and puzzles. Puzzles mostly involve searching for keys and buttons while dodging traps. Combat has the player face off against masked humanoids. Every enemy acts slightly differently based on the mask that they wear, brings different weapons to the table, and has specific weak spots.

On the player side of things you progress by slaying enemies, with levels improving your weapon strength, speed, or defensive capability to flesh out your playstyle and a limited inventory to obtain stronger, more durable weapons. While at first I was concerned about the durability system, I quickly realized that the supply of weapons far outstripped the durability loss and as such it is just a way to mix things up and look at all the different weapons and not get complacent using one. All in all, Tower of Mask‘s demo was solid and had me hooked for its entire runtime, and should be a fun addition for every classic dungeon crawler fan. — Benedikt Geierhofer


Wizard of Legend 2

Release Date: To Be Announced
Publisher: Humble Games
Developer: Dead Mage


Wizard of Legend 2 does some things great and other things questionable. A direct sequel to the 2016 roguelike, Wizard of Legend 2 brings players a more fleshed-out world with the trials no longer being just a test of skill for new wizards but also presented as a deadly game show. The sequel introduces a few new features, such as upgraded 3D graphics and voice acting.

In Wizard of Legend 2 each run is started with a pick of a new wizard who has a set innate relic. Hades-like orbs can be upgraded with changes for every run, including more max health or a secondary dash to clear pits. Outside of this, gameplay in Wizard of Legend 2 remains the same. Players are given a spell book filled with different abilities that can be mixed and matched to create a spell-slinging master wizard. The demo didn’t have a large spell list, but many of the favorite spells from the previous game are returning in the sequel.

The boss fights were one of the greatest aspects of Wizard of Legend. While the sequel has some questionable balance decisions, that fact remains true. The player is once again set against the elemental spirit bosses, but now some new bosses have been added to keep returning players on their toes. While it looks like Wizard of Legend 2 is taking a few creative departures from the original, it is doing as a sequel should: being iterative while adding its own spin. The new developer, Dead Mage, has some big shoes to fill, but it seems up to the task. Jahwon Corbett


We hope you enjoyed reading about our staff’s Steam Next Fest summer 2024 experience. Please let us know what games you played during the event through the comments, social media, or our dedicated Discord server!


Ryan Costa

Friendly neighbourhood reviewer that thinks every RPG should be discussed, because one never knows where a hidden gem can appear.

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