From the ageing musical acts to the partnership deals with Earth-ruining capitalist empires, there’s a lot to tease about Summer Game Fest. One thing that’s unironically cool? The demo event, which allows Xbox players to play a ton of indie games for free. Following last year’s successful inaugural run, it’ll return next week. Microsoft announced the news in a blog post today.
Last summer, if you’ll recall, was awash in splashy press conferences. Without an E3 to coalesce around, it felt like publishers big and small hosted events on a weekly basis for months. It was…a lot. So, between the hubbub, it was lovely to take a breather with an event that not just shone the spotlight on smaller titles but also offered players the opportunity to play them, too. And a lot of those games were genuinely terrific. Of the more than 70 made available, some — Haven, Cake Bash, Raji: An Ancient Epic, Genesis Noir — have earned marks as true standouts from the past year.
Blessedly, this year’s event will feature 40 games. (As great as 70 is, a week’s just not enough time to play them all.) Xbox hasn’t unveiled the full list just yet, but did tease five today:
- Sable, an open-world exploration game soundtracked by Michelle Zauner (whom you may know as Japanese Breakfast).
- The Riftbreaker, a sci-fi base-building game about giant mechs, planned for a fall release.
- Lake, a story-driven adventure game set in 1986 in an oceanside, wait, no, lakeside village.
- Echo Generation, a turn-based adventure game with some delicious voxel art.
- Tunic, which…tiny fox. That’s all you need to know.
If this year’s event is anything like last year’s, it’ll be well worth carving out a spot in your schedule. Yes, yes, I know we’re all pumped about the Halos and Elden Rings. But this lighter fare tends to offer a mellower, often pensive countermeasure to the cortisol-raising spectacle you see with bigger publishers.
The Summer Game Fest Demo Event — that really doesn’t roll off the tongue, huh — will run from June 15 through June 21. Stay tuned for the full list of games, and for thoughts about which ones are most worth your time.