My Time at Sandrock Articles RSS Feed | My Time at Sandrock RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network My Time at Sandrock Early Access Review: Grind for Glory Thu, 26 May 2022 13:29:28 -0400 Josh Broadwell

On my first day in Sandrock, a man in a cape swore to defend the town with the power of his chiseled chin, and a yak zealot tried getting me to drink yak milk when we first met. On my second day in Sandrock, I collapsed after running out of stamina while trying to gather enough resources for a simple building project.

If this sounds a lot like My Time at Portia, you’re not wrong. My Time at Sandrock is a follow-up, after all, and in many respects, it's a crafting-centered desert skin stretched over Portia’s venerable bones. It’s got everything you’d expect from a life-sim, from dating and town improvement to item building and even farming, and while it does most of these things very well, it doesn’t really try anything we haven’t seen before.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. Some excessive grinding makes Sandrock a chore at times, but it’s so charming and finely crafted that you can’t help but fall in love.

My Time at Sandrock Early Access Review: Grind for Glory

My Time at Sandrock starts with your arrival in the eponymous town, after tailoring your builder to your heart's content with a surprisingly detailed character creator. You're here not to fix up your dear grandad’s old farm, but to take over from the former builder Mason, who seems rather relieved to be putting the desert oasis behind him. It’s not long before you find out why. Yan, the town commissioner, has a tendency to bully builders – and everyone else – into doing whatever he wants, typically without much recompense if he can get away with it.

Still, you’re here and determined to make the best of it, bringing peace – or “telesis,” as one out-of-place instance of the game’s randomly implemented parlance calls it – to the town and its residents. That means taking on their requests and building items ranging from the useful, such as an elevator that lets salvagers reach valuable materials in dangerous places, to the convenient, like an umbrella seat near the local oasis.

It’s a winning formula we’ve seen before, and once you get into a pattern of crafting, socializing, and exploring, it’s incredibly easy to lose yourself in Sandrock. Or it would be if it didn’t keep doing its best to get in the way and make itself a chore. 

You can do a surprising number of things with Sandrock's character tools, and some things you probably you shouldn't do.

Crafting games always require a certain amount of grinding, but Sandrock takes things a bit too far. Consider your recycler, the only way to get a handful of important materials for main missions in the early game. You’ll need to find the right resources from the right locations to feed it, though there’s a chance during scavenging that you won’t end up with what you want anyways. Then there’s the recycler itself.

Say you’re after four copper sticks. Ideally, you put in four pieces of copper scrap and get the sticks. Instead, it took 15 copper scraps and almost two days of fuel to get what I needed. Fuel is, thankfully, easy to come by, but you also need water to power every machine at your workshop. Later, you can get a dew collector to make water gathering easier, but for a while, you’re stuck getting dew off plants. 10 dew stacks add one percentage point of water to your tank, and you get where this is going.

Done well, these kinds of loops are supremely satisfying and even relaxing, but in its Early Access phase, Sandrock asks a bit too much of you to really be enjoyable in its opening five hours or so — even 12 and 15 hours in don't change things much quite yet. Even after you get better machines and a stockpile of materials, most blueprints require too much time to build and effort – getting copper to smelt into bars to turn into 10 copper screws and so on. 

Much of it just feels like busywork right now, though Sandrock is also happy to let you be as not-busy as you want. From what I can tell, no main missions or side missions have time limits, so if you want to take a week to make those copper screws, spending the rest of your time chatting with folks or exploring ruins, you’re free to do it as long as you have the interest and the stamina.

I can’t say any of the characters grabbed me emotionally, but they’re a cheerful, sometimes bizarre, bunch that almost always has something interesting to say. And the ruins you can explore are fine, but nothing as in-depth as Stardew's, for example (that's not to mention how few easily-findable items give any substantial amount of stamina to keep going for too long).

In the end, though, I was happy to keep playing My Time at Sandrock because it has such a strong sense of place, a sense that only grows as your work helps contribute to the town’s growth. Expanding businesses, new conveniences, new features, and a general sense of growing well-being are the fruits of your labor, direct effects of your actions that you often don’t see in similar games.

Considering Sandrock is still in Early Access, I imagine the rougher points will gradually be smoothed out so what makes it charming and enjoyable can shine through even stronger.

[Note: Pathea Games provided the copy of My Time at Sandrock used for this EA review.]

My Time at Sandrock Commissions Guide Thu, 26 May 2022 08:40:26 -0400 Josh Broadwell

Commissions in My Time at Sandrock are some of the most important tasks you can do outside the main story quests – and sometimes instead of the main story quests. These small, and not-so-small, requests put your building skills to the test, but the rewards are worth the trouble in more ways than one.

How Commissions Work in My Time at Sandrock

Commissions unlock shortly after you settle into your new role as a builder. Speak with Yan at the commission store, and he’ll explain the basics. You start with low-tier commissions only, until you prove your worth by completing many commissions and raising your workshop level. Grab your first from the board next to the shop door.

The main reasons for completing commissions are earning Workshop experience and getting Gols (money).

Unlocking higher tiers of commissions also unlocks the option to take on more at a given tier. When you first start out, for example, you’ll only be able to accept one at a time at the lowest tier. That’s not a bad thing, though.

Commissions are timed, and you'll fail and get no rewards if you don’t deliver the requested items before the end of the commission’s final day. Resources are fairly limited in your first month or so in My Time at Sandrock, so you probably wouldn’t be able to fulfill multiple anyways.

Once you have access to high-level commissions, it’s still worth doing low-tier ones as well. They only require basic materials, which you’ll be able to provide much more easily with a few months as a builder under your belt. That makes them a reliable source of steady cash alongside the ones that are more demanding and higher paying.

Since time limits are tight, be careful about which commissions you take on as well. It’s easy to overstack your schedule in Sandrock, so you’ll want to make sure you actually have the time to gather materials and craft the required items before the deadline.

One thing the game doesn’t tell you is that you have to manually deliver the requested items to the person who posted it. If you’re not sure where to find them, open the quest list from the main menu, and track the commission.

The early access version of Sandrock seems to have a few commission bugs, where the board will be completely blank some days. If that happens to you and none appear, just restart the game or wait until the next in-game day, when new one should be posted.

And that’s pretty much it for commissions in My Time at Sandrock. It’s a straightforward system you should regularly take advantage of to pad your pockets and boost your workshop rating. If you’re looking for more tips and tricks, check out our other My Time at Sandrock guides.

How to Catch Sandfish in My Time at Sandrock Thu, 26 May 2022 08:48:05 -0400 Josh Broadwell

Catching sandfish in My Time at Sandrock is essential for a few quests and commissions, and it’s a decent way to earn a bit of extra cash on the side. The actual fishing process is a bit difficult to get used to, though, thanks in part to some rather vague in-game tutorials. Once you’ve got the hang of it and with a bit of luck, though, you’ll be reeling in more than you can throw a worm at.

How to Catch Sandfish in My Time at Sandrock

The first thing you’ll need is a Sandfish Trap, which unlocks for crafting after you take on the World of Sandfishing side quest from Owen at the Blue Moon. For me, this quest unlocked after meeting Owen and having a meal with him, with the meal being another side quest marked with a blue exclamation point, and it opened during the quest to build a lift.

Owen gives you the blueprint for making a basic sandfish trap, which requires:

  • 2 copper bars
  • 2 wooden sticks
  • 1 thick rope

You can get copper bars from smelting copper ore in the Furnace – assuming you’ve built one. The easiest way to get Wooden Sticks is by crafting them with wood at the Workbench, since the Recycler has a high chance of not giving you what you want.

Thick rope also comes from the Workbench and requires four plant fibers. These you can get in abundance just by interacting with the sandgrass around your house and on the way to Eufaula Salvage.

With Trap in hand, follow the quest marker to your first fishing spot, a sandy pool surrounded by rocks.

How to Use the Sandfish Trap

While you can technically use the Sandfish Trap without bait, but your chances of actually catching something are incredibly slim this way. Buy some worms from the ranch shop instead, and throw them in the sand pool. Bait eventually sinks beneath the sand, so you may go through a few worms before getting a bite.

The best place to throw your bait is, obviously, where you see sandfish swimming around. Once you notice one come up to the bait and stop, cast your trap out. The chances of catching something seem pretty random, but if you’re successful, a notice pops up letting you know you caught a fish. You can press the “F” key to see what kind it was.

Catch three to finish this quest, and then for now, you can catch more and sell them for some extra cash, though nothing beats the income earned from completing commissions.

That's all you need to know about how to catch sandfish in My Time at Sandrock, but make sure to check out our other My Time at Sandrock guides for more tips and tricks.

My Time at Sandrock: How to Get Gols Fast Thu, 26 May 2022 08:44:35 -0400 Josh Broadwell

If you’re wondering how to make Gols fast in My Time at Sandrock, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is there’s definitely a method for getting a lot of Gols – Sandrock money, in normal speak.

The bad news is that it’s not exactly easy and may require you to spend some Gols. After some initial grinding and losses, though, you’ll start building a sizable pool of cash you can use to fund bigger projects with less time spent going through the motions.

How to Earn Gols Fast in My Time at Sandrock

The first thing to understand is this is My Time at Sandrock, where nothing happens fast. The best way to earn Gols is completing commissions from the board in Yan’s store. These usually reward you with hundreds of Gols and, at the lower tiers, only require you to turn in basic items such as bricks or grindsaws. 

That sounds like a fair deal on the surface, but in most cases, you’ll need to turn in at least five of the requested item, if not more. Unless you’ve been grinding materials and crafting for a while, you’ll probably need to get some additional resources – by purchasing them, usually – to craft these items. After finishing the commission, you’ll also probably have to buy or craft more of the same items to replace what you used for the commission.

It’s a messy system, but once you’ve completed half a dozen commissions or so, you should have enough money to cover your basic purchases for the next several commissions, side quests, and main story requests.

Main missions pay quite well, so it’s easier to make up your losses from spending to buy crafting materials.

What Should You Sell in My Time at Sandrock?

Most things are sellable, especially in your first few months in town. The only things you should never sell are your essentials, such as stone and dinas.

Plants have no use for a while, so feel free to sell the ones you collect while gathering water. They're essentially free money for a bit.

Honey from the Bumble Ants is also a good choice, especially in your first weeks. While the sale price is low, you can get dozens of stacks of the sweet stuff pretty easily, more than enough to fill your stone fund.

What to Buy First in My Time at Sandrock

Inventory slots. I’d even go so far as to say you should blow almost all your starting cash on expanding your inventory because the game is incredibly stingy with the initial meager backpack size.

Outside the backpack – and essential crafting materials – you’ll want to purchase the blueprints for any crafting materials Yan sells, such as the bronze cog, and then buy some extra data discs from the Eufaula Salvage Shop to help unlock new machines.

While you’re there, grab bronze ore and tin ore to make the items you need to upgrade your pickhammer. The bronze pickhammer opens up how many items you can get materials from, and the game expects you to have an upgraded scavenging tool by the time you finish the first three or four main missions.

After that, sit on the rest of your cash for a while. There’s nothing essential at any of the shops, again, outside the basic crafting items, for a long time, and saving money means less grinding when it’s time for the bigger purchases.

That's all you need to know about how to earn Gols fast in My Time at Sandrock, but make sure to check out our other My Time at Sandrock guides for more tips and tricks.

My Time at Sandrock: How to Increase Backpack Inventory Space Mon, 23 May 2022 12:12:28 -0400 Jonathan Moore

My Time at Sandrock can be a bit of a grind. You'll spend a lot of time collecting materials to craft other materials, tools, and diagrams. Though you start with 29 backpack slots, it quickly becomes apparent that your starting inventory space just isn't enough to carry everything you need without having a doctorate in inventory management. 

Increasing your inventory space is actually pretty easy. There's even a quick tutorial on how to do it during your first few days in Sandrock. However, it's very easy to miss. Here's how to get more backpack slots: 

  • Open your inventory.
  • Click the plus (+) sign in the very last slot.

A small menu will pop up asking how many slots you'd like to add based on the number of Gols you currently have. It costs 10 Gols to add one inventory slot for the first 11. That cost increases with subsequent additions: 

  • 20 Gols for 12 through 21 slots.
  • 50 Gols for 22 through 31 slots.
  • 100 Gols for 32 through at least 34 slots.

I'm not sure how many extra spaces you can add in total, but you can add at least 34; since Gols are a bit hard to come by, I haven't spent them all on inventory space to find out.

However, it is clear that this Gol to space ratio is based on the total number of slots you have in your inventory. You cannot buy 11 slots for 10 Gols a piece and then buy another 11 at 10 Gols a piece. You will always pay 20 Gols starting at the 12th slot; 50 at the 22nd; and so on.

As you work your way through the Knowledge Tree, you can unlock Storage Knowledge (must unlock Yard Knowledge first). Both levels of this skill decrease the cost of purchasing new backpack slots by 5% each for a total decrease of 10%.

It's also worth pointing out that each page of your inventory can house 40 slots before it moves over to a new page. You can flip through pages by clicking the blue arrow on the far right side of the screen once you've accumulated your first 40 slots.

With all of that knowledge and more inventory space, you won't have to travel back to your workshop and storage crates as much. For more tips, head over to our guides page for My Time at Sandrock.

My Time at Sandrock: Skills List and How to Respec Knowledge Points Mon, 23 May 2022 12:51:54 -0400 Jonathan Moore

As you play through My Time at Sandrock, you'll gather experience and gain Knowledge Points to spend on various skills. These points can be spent in four Knowledge areas  Gathering, Workshop, Combat, and Social. Each category requires you to perform specific tasks to acquire XP for that specific skill tree. Points are not lumped into a general pool to spend wherever you'd like. 

This guide will outline all of the skills currently available in My Time at Sandrock, as well as their effects. It will also tell you how to respec Knowledge Points should you want to choose a different path. However, there aren't too many available, with some locked at this point in Early Access, so it's likely you won't need to respec too much, if at all. 

My Time at Sandrock Knowledge Skills Explained

Knowledge trees do not become available until you reach Character Level 5. Once you do, you'll be able to find the four skill trees under the Knowledge tab in the menu. It is the lightbulb icon between the Calendar and Album on the right side. 

You gain experience in each Knowledge category by performing specific tasks related to that category.

  • Gathering: Interacting with junk and scrap piles, gathering various resources from the ground and trees, and mining. 
  • Workshop: Crafting items at your workbench and building items diagrams. 
  • Combat: Fighting monsters and enemies, as well as sparring with townsfolk. 
  • Social: Speaking with townsfolk, sparring with them, etc.

Each Knowledge area has its own Level to increase independent of Character Level. Your overall level and progress to the next level can be seen in the upper right corner of each category in the Knowledge tab.

You'll see a lightbulb appear to the right of your stamina bar when you have an unspent skill point, and you can see how many unspent points you have by opening the Knowledge tab and looking at the four category icons in the upper left. There is no need to hoard skill points: every level costs only 1 point. 

To spend skills points, select a category, double-click a skill node, and click the Learn button at the bottom of the description on the right. If you double-click a skill you do not want, press ESC to exit the menu entirely, click another category and choose "Cancel," or right-click on the node (though the latter didn't work during my time with the game). 

Here are all of the skills currently in My Time at Sandrock as they are described in-game.

Gathering Skills

  • Basic Gathering Knowledge
    • Level 1: EXP gained by gathering increased by 10%.
    • Level 2: Increase EXP gained from recycling by 10%.
    • Level 3: Gathering Knowledge EXP from scavenging increased by 10%.
  • Herbal Knowledge
    • Level 1: Get twice as much dew when collecting herbs.
    • Level 2: Gain a small chance to find a four-leaf clover when collecting herbs.
  • Picker-Upper Knowledge
    • Level 1: Get twice as many Dregs when digging through junk piles.
    • Level 2: Gain a small chance to find gold and diamonds in junk piles.
  • Basic Wood Knowledge
    • Level 1: EXP gained from logging and kicking trees increased by 10%.
    • Level 2: Gathering knowledge EXP from logging and kicking trees increased by 10%.
  • Advanced Wood Knowledge
    • Level 1: 2 points of stamina returned by logging and kicking 10%.
    • Level 2: When kicking trees, there is a small chance you'll knock out everything that would be available.
    • Level 3: Gain a 10% chance to get extra materials when logging.
  • Basic Stone Knowledge
    • Level 1: EXP from mining increased by 10%.
    • Level 2: Gathering knowledge EXP from mining increased by 10%.
  • Advanced Stone Knowledge
    • Level 1: 10% chance to return 2 points of stamina on a hit when mining with the Pickhammer.
    • Level 2: Gain a 10% chance to get extra materials when mining.
  • Fuel Finding Knowledge
    • Level 1: When mining, gain a 10% chance to receive an extra Power Stone when you find the first one.
  • Gem Finding Knowledge
    • Level 1: When mining, gain a 10% chance to receive an extra gem when you find the first one.
  • Gunpowder Finding Knowledge
    • Level 1: When mining, gain a 10% chance to receive extra Nitre when you find the first one.
  • Disc Finding Knowledge
    • Level 1: When mining, gain a 10% chance to receive an extra Data Disc when you find the first one.
  • Stamina Knowledge
    • Levels 1 + 2: Stamina points max +5%.
  • Stamina Recovery Knowledge
    • Level 1: Stamina restored by ordering food increased by 10%.
    • Level 2: Food recovers 10% more stamina.

Workshop Skills

  • Mass Production Knowledge
    • Level 1: Gain 10% more EXP from Making items on the Worktable.
    • Level 2: Workshop Knowledge EXP gained from items made on machines or at your worktable increased by 10%.
  • Water Conservation Knowledge
    • Level 1: Water used by machines slowed by 10%.
    • Level 2: Amount of dew needed to make water decreased by 2.
  • Fuel Saving Knowledge
    • Levels 1 + 2: Fuel usage slowed by 10%. 
  • Time Management Knowledge
    • Levels 1 + 2: Improve machine production speed by 10%.
  • Learner Knowledge
    • Level 1: Gain 10% more EXP when constructing things on the Assembly Station.
    • Level 2: Workshop knowlegde EXP gained from making things on the Assembly Station increased by 10%.
  • Quality Goods Knowledge
    • Level 1: better chance to get high quality items from the Assembly Station. 
    • Level 2: Better chance to get high quality items from the Worktable and machines.
  • Quality Master Knowledge
    • Level 1: Even better chance to get high quality items from the Assembly Station. 
    • Level 2: Even better chance to get high quality items from the Worktable and machines. 
  • Yard Knowledge
    • Level 1: Max stat increase from furniture increased by 10%.
  • Plant Knowledge
    • Level 1: The growth of crops is sped up by 10%.
    • Levels 2 + 3: Get 10% more crops from a harvest.
  • Storage Knowledge
    • Levels 1+ 2: Price of unlocking new backpack slots decreased by 5%.
  • Expansion Knowledge
    • Levels 1 + 2: Price for new land decreased by 5%. 

Combat Skills

  • Long Range Knowledge
    • Level 1: Damage increased with long-range weapons by 5%.
  • Survival Knowledge
    • Level 1: Max HP increased by 10%.
    • Level 2: Gain 20% more HP when using items.
  • Basic Melee Knowledge
    • Level 1: Melee weapon damage increased by 5%.
  • Heavy Sword Novice
    • Level 1: Learn a 3-hit combo with the heavy sword.
    • Level 2: Learn a 4-hit combo. 
    • Level 3: Learn a 5-hit combo.
  • Sword and Shield Novice
    • Level 1: Learn a 3-hit combo with the sword and shield.
    • Level 2: Learn a 4-hit combo. 
    • Level 3: Learn a 5-hit combo.
  • Dagger Novice
    • Level 1: Learn a 3-hit combo with the daggers.
    • Level 2: Learn a 4-hit combo. 
    • Level 3: Critical hit damage with daggers increased by 10%.
  • Spear Novice
    • Level 1: Learn a 3-hit combo with the spear.
    • Level 2: Learn a 4-hit combo. 
    • Level 3: Learn a 5-hit combo.

Social Skills

  • Social Activity Knowledge
    • Level 1: The social knowledge experience gained when socializing with NPCs increased by 10%.
    • Level 2: When you reach "friend" status with someone in town, you can see them on the map.
  • Social Butterfly Knowledge
    • Level 1: Social knowledge EXP gained from interacting with townsfolks in day-to-day life increased by 10%.
  • Commission Knowledge
    • Level 1: Social knowledge EXP gained for completing commissions increased by 10%.
  • Quality Bonus Knowledge
    • Level 1: Extra reward received when turning in a high quality (higher than requested) commission increased by 10% beyond the initial bonus.
  • Chart-topper Knowledge
    • Level 1: All commission rewards increase by 5% while ranked in the Top 3 at the Commerce Guild.
  • Quick Delivery Knowledge
    • Level 1: Reward gained when completing a commission the same day it's issued increased by 5%.

How to Respec Skills in My Time at Sandrock

It's unlikely that you'll find the need to respec any of your skills in My Time at Sandrock. However, there is a way to do so if you wish. 

Go to the Clinic in the northwestern portion of the map, near the Game Center, Museum, and sparring ring. Speak with Fang and choose acupuncture, the third option. You'll be able to respec individual categories, as well as all of your Knowledge Points at a single time. 

Each respec costs a certain number of Gols to perform based on the number of skill points in a single category (1 point = 10 Gols). The exact price will be presented when you choose the category, but the more you have, the pricier the respec. 

And that's basically everything you need to know about Knowledge Points, skills, and how to respec in My Time at Sandrock as it stands this close to the game's Early Access launch. For more, head over to our Sandrock guides page.

My Time at Sandrock Hidden Treasure Chest Locations Mon, 23 May 2022 12:46:26 -0400 Jonathan Moore

There are a number of chests hidden around the dusty town of Sandrock and inside the businesses that call it home. Each contains something of value, whether it be a crafting recipe, a piece of gear, or a handful of Gols. Seeking them out yourself isn't a monumental task: at this point in Early Access, there aren't that many to find. 

Regardless, the guide below will show you where all of the treasure chests currently are at this stage in My Time at Sandrock's EA period. It will also tell you what's inside each of them (except for one because I haven't figured out how to reach the damnable thing yet). We'll break it up into lower town and upper town

Where to Find Hidden Chests in My Time at Sandrock

Lower Town

  • In the train station; turn right when you enter.
    • Reward: Fluorite +1.

  • On the second-floor balcony inside the Commerce Guild.
    • Reward: 1 Gol.

  • In the room to the right of the bar in Blue Moon Saloon.
    • Reward: Soy Sauce x2, Vinegar x2.

  • By Blue Moon Saloon’s western, second-story door (left of the main entrance if you're looking at the Saloon).
    • Reward: 50 goals.

  • On the eastern side of Pablo’s Parler barbershop, between it and Owen’s red house.
    • Reward: Blessing Pendant.

  • On the catwalk just east of Pablo’s Parler (left of and above the Blessing Pendant chest).
    • Reward: Pioneer lore book.

  • On the stone stairway leading above and behind Pablo’s Parlor barbershop.
    • Reward: Topaz +2.

  • On the second-floor balcony inside City Hall, north end above the door.
    • Reward: Water +5.

  • On top of the stable across from the General Store (By the Stairs); to the left of City Hall if you're looking at the front of City Hall.
    • Reward: Bone Necklace (defense +5).

  • Underneath Water World, the building where you can buy water from Burgess. Go underneath to the right of the stairs leading up from the main road going through town.
    • Reward: Around the World in However Many Days.

  • On the second-story balcony of the Miner’s Dorm, on the far-left side.
    • Reward: 100 Gols.

Upper Town

  • Against the backside of the Church of Light temple.
    • Reward: 50 Gols.

  • On the balcony above Ceramic Gate.
    • Reward: Ceramic Plate recipe.

  • On top of the building west, across the path from, the Research Center. This is Rocky's Home.
    • Reward: Casual T-Shirt.

  • On the Research Center roof; go up the stairs on the south side.
    • Reward: 50 Gols.

  • On the platform above the tunnel leading from the Research Center toward the Ranch and Hammer Time.
    • Reward: Stone Daggers x1.

  • On top of the Ranch's barn; on the east side of the roof. Climb up the western side.
    • Reward: Yakmel Horn Bracelet recipe.

Those are all of the chests currently in My Time at Sandrock — unless we've missed one in someone's room since getting anyone to be your friend in this game is a task. There are sure to be changes to chest locations (or even entire new additions) throughout the game's Early Access period, so we'll periodically update it with new information.

Steam Next Fest: 8 Great Indie Demos to Download Now Fri, 18 Jun 2021 16:57:14 -0400 Mark Delaney

Steam Next Fest is back for another round, and that means the popular storefront is currently hosting hundreds of demos for players to try out. It's the closest we can get to something like an E3 showfloor, and honestly, without the long queues for games and longer queues for lunch, it's really not so bad.

While we can't claim to have played all 500+ indie game demos taking part in the digital festival, we did play dozens of them and settled on spotlighting eight that we came away excited about.

The Big Con

Girl with aquamarine hair and pants walking down a sidewalk in front of shops.

Players of a particular age will appreciate The Big Con for its decisively 90s aesthetic. Ugly carpets, video rental stores, and a vanishing middle class give way to the game's protagonist, Ali, needing to pickpocket her way to clearing her mother's debts.

This adventure game is visually striking and both funny and sad at different intervals, like looking through a 1995 yearbook.

Road 96

Kid wearing glasses playing an arcade cabinet in neon light.

If politics and games are your thing, maybe a world that mirrors our own in some uncomfortable ways could be fascinating. If so, the many-branched narrative tree of Road 96 should capture you.

In it, players take on the role of a teen fleeing for the border to escape what seems to be an oncoming storm of trouble from the next possible governing body. Commenting on our world through one not the same, but not unlike ours either, makes for a compelling setting.

Terra Nil

Red ship hovering over forest and wind turbine next to a river.

Strategy is a big umbrella, so it's hard to say fans of the genre, in general, will enjoy Terra Nil, but it's worth a shot because it's unlike any other "city-builder" I know. That's because you are actually tasked with building the world back up from ruin, returning nature to the hills, rivers, and valleys of a once lush land.

The visual effects of replacing the world's beauty have a strangely Tetris-like satisfaction, like getting everything just right can feel so good.

My Time At Sandrock

Girl standing in empty garden plot with town in background.

Farm sims are extremely in right now, and the team at Pathea is back with its bigger and prettier follow-up to My Time At Portia. If you liked it before, My Time At Sandrock feels like it returns a lot of what you loved the first time only with more townsfolk, a bigger starting area, and a whole new desert-like region to discover.

They Are Here 

First-person view walking along path through cornfield at night.

I've long lamented the lack of any proper alien abduction horror, so They Are Here was actually the first demo I tried during Steam Next Fest. While the 10-minute sample is a bit on rails, it gets the atmosphere and innate terror of an alien lifeform so very right.

This is a genre that games have weirdly failed to do much with, so I hope the full game is just as creepy as the demo.

Rainbow Billy

Billy in a spacesuit in vibrant red and yellow landscape drawn like Cuphead.

It's a surprise this colorful indie isn't from Cartoon Network. The blend of 2D and 3D art is immediately captivating, and the story seems to set up a similar tone to Adventure Time, where things are just a bit subversive but still friendly enough for all ages.

It also seems to have a fun exploratory nature to it, where the titular hero travels the world by squishy steamboat.

Chasing Static

Outside a diner at night in a rainstorm.

Fans of retro horror simply must download this one. Using a PS1 visual style but presented in first-person, Chasing Static is an interesting mix of old- and new-school horror design principles.

Music is reminiscent of Silent Hill and it even begins in a diner, much like the classic from Konami. It's effectively scary too, and I genuinely say that about few games anymore.

Severed Steel

Player character infirst-person view falling backward while shooting handgun at enemy.

John Wick already got a game, but this is a much closer John Wick simulator than that strategy title. In first-person, players can wallrun, slide, dive through glass, and shoot in slow motion taking out waves of enemies while dripping with style like Jeff Goldblum circa Jurassic Park.


While you're here, don't forget we also dove deep into LudoNarraCon earlier this year too, where we already fell in love with demo-ready games like Lake and Unpacking, both of which have demos during Steam Next Fest as well.

Those are the handful of indie games we loved that have demos available now during Steam Next Fest. Have we missed your favorite? Let us know, and we'll give it a try!