Explore a jam-PAXed list of creative and exciting upcoming Australian and international indie games in our PAX AUS 2022 Australian indie games showcase!
This year, the Qualbert team were delighted to be given the opportunity to attend PAX AUS, the largest gaming exhibition in Australia, as a media representative. Spread across three exciting days and showcasing games from across Australia and the world, there were almost too many to play – but we certainly tried our best! Despite the range of upcoming triple A titles on show, like Street Fighter 6 and Sonic Frontiers, most of our time and attention was spent in the brilliant PAX Rising area, which featured local indie game talent and the creative developers behind each game.
So without further adieu, we’d like to share some of our favourite Australian and international indie games that were available on the PAX AUS show floor and highlight the wonderful people behind them. Be sure to follow their projects, keep in touch with the teams through their social media we’ve provided, and show the games support as they continue to drive the Australian indie scene forward with each wonderful creation.
Australian Indie Games Showcase
The Godfeather: A Mafia Pigeon Saga
Genre: Action / Arcade
Developer: Hojo Studios
Join the Boids, bow down to The Godfeather, and help your feathered friends take back their rightful pigeon territory in this tongue-in-cheek bird-themed bomber. Combining simple arcade-style gameplay with avian humour and a sleek, vibrant art-style, The Godfeather is a crowd pleaser with addictive top-down gameplay. The only way to take down your enemies? With a hit… of pigeon poop.
Dive into bins to replenish your supply of ammo, skilfully glide through suburban skies, and take aim as your poo lands true. If you’re a fan of silly games and always looking a good laugh, go check out The Godfeather for an offer you can’t refuse.
Find out more here: http://www.godfeathergame.com/
Developer: Hungry Sky
Cats and cushions are a match made in heaven, as you’ll find out in the adorable casual puzzle experience, Nekograms. Out now on the Apple App Store and Google Play, this simple and satisfying, meditative feline slider sports a beautifully-crafted art-style and over 120 individual levels.
Don’t be fooled by its deceptive cuteness – Nekograms will eventually have you scratching your head! Every cat needs a cushion, and the player must perfectly slide cushions up and down while shifting cats left and right until they’re all perfectly cosy and well-rested. If cute puzzle games are your jam, this one is perfect for you.
Find out more here: https://nekograms.com/
Developer: Pond Games
Platforming perfection – RITE draws upon the classics of the genre and reinvigorates the level-based gameplay of titles like N++ and Super Meat Boy with super tight and intuitive controls. With high-speed precision and a stunning pixel art design, players must navigate a multitude of challenging trials while collecting keys and coins along the way.
As a platforming fanatic myself, I can confidently say that RITE feels perfect. The fluid and responsive controls felt polished from the very first moment I picked up the controller, and will push your twitch platforming skills to the limit. RITE is out now, and as of writing this article is 50% off on Steam – so there’s no better time to check it out. Get RITE to it!
Find out more here: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1322650/RITE/
Dead Pets Unleashed
Genre: Narrative / Slice-of-life / Minigames
Developer: Triple Topping
Ever wondered what the outcome would be if you threw a bunch of grunge albums and narrative videogames into a blender? Add an unhealthy dose of booze, a heaping of horrid humour, and top it off with some awfully absurd character design and you’ve got Dead Pets Unleashed from Copenhagen-based Triple Topping. One of the most distinct, disturbing, and intriguing indie games I’ve ever played. And it makes Scott Pilgrim look like a pathetic punk pop pushover.
You play as the bassist in the Dead Pets, an underground grunge-rock band that’s so deep underground they’re practically on one of the outer layers of hell. Packed with offensive humour, satisfying yet satirical minigames, and a banging soundtrack. This dead game is well and truly alive through its distinct characters and tongue-in-cheek gameplay.
Find out more here: https://www.deadpetsunleashed.com/
The Sacred Acorn
Developer: A Few Dragons
Blending classic top-down 2D action adventure gameplay with a beautifully vibrant art-style, led by a heroic squirrel named Ima. Players venture into the land of Tansira to thwart corruption and chaos in search of an ancient power that hopes to stop the calamity: The Sacred Acorn. Set in an expansive world, featuring intricate dungeons littered with formidable enemies, and environmental puzzles to perplex even the smartest squirrel, it’s clear that to see the game’s roots draw inspiration from classics of the adventure genre.
Created by the team at A Few Dragons in Adelaide, this indie passion project seems like the perfect entry point for anyone wanting to try out the action/adventure genre, particularly due to its approachable characters and design. While unfortunately we didn’t have the chance to play the game on the show floor, the devs were kind enough to reach out and share their game! There’s a demo now live on Steam, which is the perfect opportunity to see what awaits in the charming world of Tansira.
Find out more here: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1259760/The_Sacred_Acorn/
The Amazing Chicken Adventures
Genre: 3D Puzzle Platformer
Developer: Piotr Rochala
In the wise words of Limp Bizkit: Keep rollin’ rollin’ rollin’!
That’s essentially the entire gameplay of The Amazing Chicken Adventures, a quirky couch co-op 3D puzzle platformer featuring, you guessed it, an amazing chicken. It’s a game quite literally full of fowl play, as you roll an egg precariously towards your goal. Gravity is your worst enemy, but the levels are too, with awkward obstacles and precarious precipices every step of the way.
Every level beautifully unfolds and features colourful visuals inspired by Eastern European folklore – in fact, it’s clucking gorgeous. Accompanied by a variety of calming classical tracks, you’ll also be eggcited to know that the game also features a tonne of unlockables, and even a chicken-controlled drone for especially skilled players!
Find out more here: https://www.amazingchickenadventures.com/
TFC: The Fertile Crescent
Developer: Wield Interactive
Whether you downloaded it, got it for free out of a cereal box, or purchased it with your hard-earned pocket money, many of us grew up with the phenomenal RTS gameplay of Age of Empires. TFC: The Fertile Crescent harkens back to the golden era of RTS and reignites the flame, drawing upon the classic gameplay while adding clever new elements to make gameplay even more adaptive and intuitive.
Simplistic yet detailed pixel art and in-depth real-time strategy gameplay make for a stunning combination in this RTS renaissance. Lead your colony to victory, expand your territory, and see your people flourish. Or will you lead them to their downfall? Only you can decide in The Fertile Crescent.
Find out more here: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1674820/TFC_The_Fertile_Crescent/
Every Hue of You
Genre: Visual Novel
Developer: Cactus Jam Games
Every Hue of You sets the mood by inviting in the player with a colour scheme of rich purples and blues. A visual novel with light gameplay elements, Hue follows a girl named Twyla, a jeweller who has taken over her mother’s store, and struggles to deal with the reality of her death. She finds out she can magick her customers’ emotions into the jewellery she makes for them. The gameplay elements consist of point and click, as you help Twyla craft their jewellery.
Strong emotions in Hue’s world literally turn into physical manifestations, such as hot anger causing a fire to burst into reality. Because of this, expressing strong emotions is taboo, and shame is attached to people who are unable to control their feelings. This focus on exploring complex emotions such as grief and loneliness with a gorgeous anime aesthetic make Hue a game to watch out for, as it releases in May 2023 on Steam.
Find out more here: https://store.steampowered.com/app/2014210/Every_Hue_of_You/
Developer: Witch Beam
The next game from Witch Beam who brought you the colossal indie hit, Unpacking, Tempopo is a completely different change of tempo from its moving predecessor. This time you’ll be helping an adorable rhythmic creature traverse standalone levels with music to aid as your guide. While Tempopo isn’t necessarily a rhythm game, its cleverly incorporated songs and sound effects are weaved throughout every aspect of this charming puzzler as the main character joyfully bounces along to the beat.
With beautifully vibrant visuals, a delightfully upbeat soundtrack from Jeff Van Dyk (who also composed the music to Unpacking), and approachable puzzle/platforming gameplay, Tempopo will appeal to fans looking for a more laid back and pleasing elements to both their eyes and their ears.
Find out more here: https://tempopogame.com/
Mars First Logistics
Genre: Simulation / Physics
Developer: Shape Shop
Elon Musk eat your heart out. Mars First Logistics lets you explore the mysterious red planet AND you don’t even have to spend billions of dollars to get there. Combining an expansive Mars rover simulation in a vast open world with elements of building and physics games, you’ll have the opportunity to build your very own rover from scratch in order to carry out a variety of missions across the planet. Haul awkwardly-shaped cargo and design your rover to not only cope with the load, but also traverse the challenging terrains.
Mars First Logistics features a striking cel-shaded art style that really pops, as vibrant and distinct as the red planet itself. Topped off with a soundtrack by Dan Golding, the creative composer behind Frog Detective and Untitled Goose Game, and you’ve got an interplanetary adventure that’s an out-of-this-world treat for all the senses.
Find out more here: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1532200/Mars_First_Logistics/
Genre: Co-Op Adventure / Party
Developer: Dragonbear Studios
Landlords are evil, right? Well this one especially is, as an evil wizard has done more than just hiked up the rent. He’s stolen the whole Inn! And it’s up to you and your team of faithful fantasy friends to reclaim it. Team up with your companions and make the inn a roaring success once again by brewing potions, cooking, and even fighting in hectic couch co-op.
Drawing inspiration from charming party games like Overcooked and Moving Out, Innchanted adds a fantasy spin and themes of Australian First Nations peoples through its story and music. With a culturally-rich soundtrack performed by First Nations musicians and composed by my good friend, Meena Shamaly, you’ll be INNspired throughout every level of Innchanted as you jam along to its catchy tunes.
Find out more here: https://www.innchanted.com/
Genre: Adventure RPG
Developer: David Chen
My (Ben) personal favourite indie game of the entire expo. Spiritwell is simply oozing with charm, drawing upon the superb style and wonderful humour of RPG gems like Undertale and Mother 3. An intriguing and otherworldly universe awaits at the base of a well, after the protagonist takes a deep fall and discovers an unknown land filled with absurd characters, and an even more absurd Kappa who decides to accompany him.
Every moment of the Spiritwell demo was filled with its unique character-driven humour, created entirely by David Chen, a solo developer responsible for almost every aspect of the game. Immediately, from the stunning opening sequence, I felt completely drawn into the world Spiritwell, and I know you will too. We’ll be reviewing Spiritwell in the near future on Qualbert.com, so keep an eye out to find out more about the land beyond the well!
Find out more here: https://www.spiritwell.net/
Genre: Adventure / Simulation
Developer: UmbrellaParty Co.
Indie games that come from local developers tend to hit a little closer to home. Miska, if you’re a fan of Victoria’s beautiful flora and fauna, hits that mark. You play as a woman that slowly but surely restores a nature park that’s fallen by the wayside, along with exploring memories of her sister. As the rubbish is cleared up, nature returns to flourish.
Miska’s ambience is cozy and calming. The narrative gently drifts with you, along with visuals of warm parkland. A game where you can truly relax and unwind with.
Find out more here: https://www.umbrellapartystudios.com/
Genre: Rogue-lite / Dungeon Crawler
Developer: Battle Brew Productions
Every adventure should start with a good meal, and in Cuisuineer, the meal is part of the adventure! This adorable food-focused dungeon crawler combines elements of roguelikes and cooking games in a clever gameplay loop that’ll have you quickly cooking up a storm. With Pom’s family restaurant on the brink of collapse, she’ll bring it back to Michelin stardom the only way she knows how: by delving into dungeons!
Harness the power of flavour and imbue your food and your items with the power of Sweet, Salty, Bitter, Sour, and even Umami! With a wide variety of enemies, unlockables, and procedurally-generated levels, no two playthroughs (or dinners) are the same. Does that sound to your tastes? Click the link below and get cooking!
Find out more here: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1963570/Cuisineer/
A Space For the Unbound
Genre: Visual Novel
Developer: Mojiken (Published by Toge Productions)
A Space For The Unbound is a (mostly) relaxed adventure game set in rural Indonesia in the late 90’s. With its focus on plot and beautiful coloured pixel art, Unbound is a game that highlights themes of mental health, touching on topics such as anxiety and depression and how to overcome them. And of course, as is classic, threatening supernatural powers.
Atma and Raya, a highschool couple, fight to save their sleepy town and unspool its secrets. They’re able to do a deep dive into townpeople’s minds (think Inception) in order to collect information. I’m very much looking forward to playing a game with such a rare setting, as Indonesia is, at least from what I know, is a country that rarely has the spotlight in videogames. Unbound is created by Mojiken Studio, based in Surabaya, Indonesia, and has a planned release date of late 2022.
Find out more here: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1201270/A_Space_For_The_Unbound/
Kendan and the Gem of Eru
Genre: Fantasy RPG / Retro
Developer: Stompy Paws Studios
As time passes in the gaming industry, pixel art draws the attention for that nostalgia run for many, from childhood. Kendan and the Gem of Eru is a retro fantasy RPG on the monochrome LCD display of the GameBoy – even being released as a physical cartridge! Set on the continent called Úna, magic is vanishing and with it, so does light. Our hero Kendan travels across Úna in order to restore it to it’s former brilliance.
Heavily influenced by the early Final Fantasy, as well as Zelda games, looking at the detail and novelty of Eru’s pixel art on PAX’s show floor was certainly something to catch my eye.
Find out more here: https://www.stompypawsstudios.com/
Genre: Word Game / Puzzle
Developer: Studio Folly
Gubbins is a charming word puzzle game with a bright, cute style. The game’s PAX booth welcomed me in with wooden chairs, a fridge, yellow tulips and light purple bluebells, creating a sharp contrast with the rest of the booths. The concept is simple but engaging, the player place tiles to create words.
Little cartoon creatures called Gubbins will both assist as well as derail you wordsmithing goals. Described as ‘Solitaire meets Scrabble’ with a cheeky twist, this indie game is suitable for both younger players and adults. Gubbins releases for iOS first in 2023.
Find out more here: https://folly.studio/
TopplePOP: Bungee Blockbusters
Genre: Puzzle / Physics
What do you get when you combine a pile of Tetris blocks, a plethora of Puyos, and attach the player to a stretchy bungee rope attempting to cleverly knock them all into each other? Well, that’s TopplePOP, the vibrant and joyful physics-based puzzler that’s best enjoyed with friends.
Drawing elements from decades worth of puzzle games but adding its own unique spin to the genre, the game has the player quite literally dangling from a rope at the top of the screen. Blocks don’t drop automatically this time – the player must bungee down and drop them into an appropriate spot in order to clear the stage! It’s a delightfully playful gameplay concept and unlike any puzzle game I’ve ever encountered. If you’re looking for a brilliant puzzle game to enjoy with friends, put TopplePOP at the TOP of your list!
Find out more: https://topplepop.com/
Primordial Legends: Hollow Hero
Genre: Third-Person Action Adventure
Developer: ToyBox Games Studios
Affectionately referred to by the developers as “Combat Wombat” – Hollow Hero is an ambitious and lush 3D action adventure with a wombat protagonist in a world far from home. Players take control of Brunt in the fantasy world of Eridal, a lore-rich land full of mysteries and threats to fend off.
Drawing inspiration from action titles like God of War, with close-quarters combat combined with dungeon-crawling, platforming, and environmental puzzles. What sets Hollow Hero apart is its protagonist – as a wombat our hero can deftly burrow to her advantage, making for clever exploration akin to Samus’ morph ball. It’s a concept I can’t wait to play more of and explore the world of Primordial Legends!
Find out more: https://www.toyboxgamesstudios.com/hollow-hero/
Spies and Soldiers
Developer: Ghostbat Games
Do you like politically cut-throat fantasy ala Game of Thrones? Stunningly vibrant watercolour visuals? Then Spies & Soldiers may be the game for you. It certainly is for me, being my (Zahra) stand out game of PAX’s indie booths. What drew me to this game is the absolutely breathtaking watercolour art-style. The vivid colours and use of shadows instantly caught my attention, Jim and Ben’s team over at GhostBat Games have truly made something special.
Spies & Soldiers is a digital strategy boardgame that features simultaneous turn resolution. You have to face another player on a procedurally generated fantasy map in the vein of Tolkien’s, growing your empire and seizing cities. The goal is to control five castles, balancing two systems; that of military might, and subterfuge. Military power is represented by Soldiers, who are simple to use, relying on strength of pure numbers being their domain. Subterfuge is shown through Spies. They’re more complex to understand than Soldiers, using covert information and assassinations to turn the flow of warfare. I’m so excited to try this game out myself when it comes out.
Find out more: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1094450/Spies__Soldiers/
Fantasy Town – Regional Manager
Developer: Caps Collective
Fantasy Town Regional Manager is a tongue in cheek love letter to the fantasy genre. Instead of questing off as a dashing hero, you as the player are instead tasked with every nerd’s secret wish, running the hub town yourself and seeing the adventure narrative through the eyes of, well, a paper pushing regional manager. The goal is to build your town up to notoriety, attracting adventurers to protect your townsfolk.
As much as I have a deep love for the fantasy genre, seeing a game take such pleasure in gently teasing worn out tropes with quips is very refreshing. Fantasy Town Regional Manager has already been released, but is being updated frequently with new content.
Schrodinger’s Cat Burglar
Developer: Abandoned Sheep
I know I know, when I saw the title I, too, was slightly concerned for the safety of our lead kitty. But put down your pitchforks people, this game is based on the family friendly version of the famous quantum theory. Schrodinger’s Cat Burglar is a puzzle adventure game with a particular catch. Mittens the cat falls into a quantum experiment, giving her the ability to let the player split her into two cats.
Literally able to exist in two places at once, helping her (and by extension, you) figure out puzzles and uncover truths at a research facility. However, if someone happens to observe her, things get more… complicated. Anybody itching for a puzzle game based on fun quantum mechanical hijinks should click the link to find out more!
Find out more: https://www.astragames.org/game-schrodingers-cat-burglar
And that’s a wrap! While these were all the games we were able to play over the weekend at PAX AUS 2022, there were many more we were unfortunately unable to get to in time. If you’re the developer behind one of those games, please reach out to us here. And if you’d like to keep up to date with all these games, follow Qualbert.com on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for regular updates.