Twinfinite attended PAX AUS this past weekend and we had the chance to check out a load of indie games. Here are the ten best we saw that you should keep your eye on.
Best Friend Forever
Dating sims are absolutely everywhere nowadays, but it’s amazing how developers can combine razor sharp writing with a unique twist on the genre in order to stand out. Here, we have a dating sim where you pick up poop!
…Because there’s dogs. If there’s a poop-collecting dating sim that doesn’t involve dogs, we do not want to hear about it (lord knows it’ll probably end up on this list at some point).
In Best Friend Forever, you’re the newest resident of Rainbow Bay, a town where canines are super chic, and people are rarely seen without their furry friends.
There are a range of eligible bachelors and bachelorettes for you to woo, each with their own rich, distinct personalities that will leave your tongue wagging.
Clearly, a great deal of time and effort has gone into the dialogue, and you’ll find yourself laughing again and again as you interact with the denizens and their doggos.
It’s not all just giggles however; there is a definite heart and authenticity that shines through, compelling you to dig deeper into the story behind these fascinating people.
Throw in the dog training segments as you raise your pup from a rebellious rapscallion to chien du jour, and you’ve got a clear winner on Steam and Switch for Valentine’s Day 2020.
Incidentally, today I learnt the French word for dog. Could you tell?
Dead Static Drive
Right off the bat, you can tell that Dead Static Drive is absolutely oozing with style. The visuals are clean, vivid and sleek, and the irreverent tone suits it to a T.
It places you in a post-apocalyptic setting where gargantuan beasts are laying waste to society, and your desperate bid for survival is offset by the mundane realities of life: sometimes, dude, you’ve just gotta find a place to pee.
It’s goofy and chaotic, and driving the car can prove hilariously hectic.
Somehow, it can be more satisfying to utterly fail at your goal, careening off the road and tumbling down the hills, just barely surviving by the skin of your teeth, only to mistime your alight and get crushed under your wrecked vehicle as it rolls to a stop.
Dead Static Drive reinforces a nihilistic world view that life is expendable, and indeed, the potential allies you’ll meet along the way are just that. Briefly useful but ultimately just a means to an end. Hopefully they don’t end up double crossing you first.
Be sure to check this indie game when it drops next year on PC and Xbox One.
MMORPG Tycoon 2
If you thought playing an MMORPG was addictive, imagine injecting those elements into an ambitious, world building simulation game.
I am so damned excited to spend proper time with MMORPG Tycoon 2 upon its release, but I am also terrified that I may never see natural sunlight ever again.
The scope of this title is hard to describe succinctly (plus I have a penchant for waffling on as it is), however it basically tasks you with creating a world for AI-controlled subscribers to play around in. Build towns, add quest givers, throw in some dungeons and monsters, and let the good times roll!
Of course, constructing the game world is just half the fun, because once the game is live, you’ll have to appease your user base, adding enough new content to keep them engaged, catering to their demands while at the same time keeping them on their toes to encourage them to continue playing.
Me personally, I decided to fill the entire township with angry bears, and though the deaths were many, some of them seemed to get a kick out of it.
One particular character was a bit too surly for my tastes, so I banned him simply out of spite, only to receive negative buzz that ruined my pristine review score.
I wanted to build more. I wanted to destroy more. It’s just an insanely detailed and addictive experience, and I look forward to its upcoming Steam release.
Also, this is such a minor aside, but the way the mouse cursor curls around in the direction you move it is such a neat little touch that it warranted mention.
Sometimes, gaming can be about more than just an enjoyable experience. In the case of the cooperative puzzle game Grabimals, the potential it has to be used as a tangible team building exercise or even a classroom resource is absolutely thrilling.
You play as the Grabimals, a series of vivified shapes that have to work collaboratively to achieve a goal, connecting with one another to create objects or move together. It’s like making the Megazord, except nobody has to argue over who gets to be the Red Ranger.
The reason why Grabimals is so fascinating — beyond the simple fact that it’s just plain fun — is that tasks can be tackled in a variety of different ways, and though there’s likely an optimal way of doing things, sometimes you can come up with a solution so bizarre and impractical, it somehow just works.
Once you throw in the human element of four players, you really get an insight into the way people work as a team.
Maybe someone takes the lead, while another pitches in with the occasional good idea as a secondary support. Perhaps there’s one player among you who just wants to kind of mess things up, subtly sabotaging the whole process?
If nothing else, that latter example is a really good way of determining which of your cohorts is an absolute jerkwad. Maybe don’t share your Grabimals with them when it arrives on PC and Switch.
Let’s address the obvious aspect here first: the titular protagonist of Ailuri is quite possibly the most adorable thing I have ever seen. If they decided to make plush toys of the red panda, I will buy them in bulk, surroundinng myself with cherubic bliss and poor fiscal decisions.
However, to dismiss this 2D platformer as being a one note wonder would be doing a disservice to what is actually a rather serious piece of work. The charming, hand drawn art style is juxtaposed masterfully with a grim narrative that brings attention to nature’s struggle for survival against the destructive force of mankind.
Ailuri himself is fluid and easy to control, deftly climbing up trees and swinging around on orbs scattered about the stages. Plus he gobbles up num nums and it makes my heart go blumf!
Onamotapoeas are fun. So is Ailuri. It’s coming to PC and Switch.
There are times when a simple premise is applied so well, something special happens: a game that is just inherently amusing. The kind of thing you could pick up, play for a little bit or maybe even a lot, and come back to again and again.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Nekograms. Nyaaaaaan!
Cats and cushions are placed upon a grid, and your goal is to get those cats onto those comfy cushions. Cats can only be moved horizontally (because they’re fickle like that), while cushions may only slide up and down (because cushions are assholes).
As you progress, differently sized cats and cushions will be introduced, as well as foreign items obstructing your path, making a seemingly straightforward objective increasingly more challenging.
Cute as those kitties may be, you’ll soon end up cursing their fuzzy faces with the fury of a thousand suns. They’ll be sauntering to mobile devices next year.
Warning: there’s a lot to unpack here.
Now that we’ve gotten that glaringly obvious gag out of the way, we delve into a peaceful, tranquil puzzle game that allows you to arrange a room as you see fit.
Unpacking is light on consequences, so the only real drawback to being a slob and flinging all of the items onto the floor is your own feeling of dissatisfaction — just as it is in real life.
The game follows the various stages of a lifetime, from childhood into the adult years, and features various rooms, such as bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms.
Pose your various knick knacks, tuck shirts into drawers, and curse your old housemate Barbara for stealing your good concealer. That last one only happens in your own mind, incidentally.
You’ll be able to unpack this gem on PC, late 2020.
As aesthetically pleasing as it is narratively compelling, Broken Roads takes you on a journey across a post-apocalyptic Australia and puts you in charge of a ragtag group of survivors.
The calling card of this title is its morality system, and the decisions you make will skew your character in one of four different personality traits.
Fancy a machiavellian solution? Watch as your protagonist slips further into self-preservation. Opting for a more utilitarian approach? The needs of the many will soon outweigh the few.
Though you might prefer to toe the line and remain neutral, there are benefits to leaning deeper into one trait, giving you abilities that can prove both helpful and harmful. How you tackle the world will dictate your fate in one of many multiple endings.
Rural Australia makes for a fantastic setting, as it mirrors its real life equivalent superbly well with its humble structures and rugged terrain. Of course, most Aussies don’t spend their days engaging in bloody warfare with bandits (only on weekends, mate), but otherwise it’s pretty accurate.
You’ll have to wait for a bit for this one, eying a 2021 release for PC, Mac, Xbox One, PS4 and Switch.
Frenetic. Frantic. Fantastic!
At a glance, Wrestledunk Sports is equal parts unassuming and bombastic. You take control of one of four (or more!) rectangular athletes competing in various events, and though their designs are simple, they are wildly expressive and lively.
Once the action starts, however, all hints of subtlety are thrown out the window, as the wild critters commence flipping and flailing all about the screen, spewing colorful visual effects as they crush and collide with their rivals.
Wrestling is the main event here, and it’s an absolute blast to play or spectate, but there’s no shortage of sports to experience, including volleyball and fencing.
Rarely has it been quite so gleeful to watch adorable beasties bludgeon one another, all in the name of our sick entertainment. They’re on their way to Switch sometime soon.
Melbourne, Australia is known for a few things. It has a thriving sports scene, and is the home of the Australian Open.
It is a cultural hub, globally celebrated as a hotbed for rising young artists. It has a monument called Federation Square that looks like a rejected concept for one of Bowser’s fortresses, it is simply awful.
But if Melburnians are proud of one thing above all others — and yes, that is the correct spelling, don’t @ me — it’s their coffee. The hipster lifeblood, if you will.
Necrobarista celebrates this Melbourne staple with a unique twist, a clientele made up of the recently departed.
This visual novel follows the comings and goings of a fairly unspectacular cafe in the suburbs, where bewildered, stressed souls may get one last taste of humanity before moving on.
It’s hard to pinpoint which is stronger in Necrobarista: the punchy, compelling dialogue and characters, or the graphics, which are gobsmackingly enticing.
It looks and feels like the kind of game that can make an impact when it releases at long last, and it’s the perfect entry to cap off this list.
Get your indie caffeine fix on PC, Mac, PS4 and Switch in late 2019/early 2020.