[2020 video game releases]Every Major Upcoming Aussie Indie Game You Should Keep An Eye On
Australia’s video game industry has a great track record, with many recent titles showcasing just how talented and passionate our developers really are. Moving Out?was a major hit in 2020 and other titles like?Windbound?and?Necrobarista?made a massive impact on the scene. Some titles missed release dates due to the coronavirus pandemic, but that hasn’t stopped the excitement for Australian games.
From zen experiences like Unpacking?to gorgeous, style-soaked romps like Dead Static Drive,?there’s plenty of reasons to look forward to local Aussie releases in 2021 and 2022. Even if we have to wait an age, there’s so?many great-looking games on the menu.
Here’s every big Aussie project you should watch out for in 2021, 2022 and beyond.
This post has been updated with more Australian titles since its initial publication.
Image: Samurai Punk
JUSTICE SUCKS: RECHARGED?is the sequel to the killer roomba adventure Roombo: First Blood. Like the original,?Justice Sucks has you navigating various sandbox levels with?Hitman-like precision. The goal is to basically overcomb your tiny robot chassis to clear out levels, hacking other smart objects and creating various traps along the way.
JUSTICE SUCKS: RECHARGED?doesn’t have a release date just yet, and for now it’s only coming to PC.
The Forgotten City?is the standalone game borne out of?A Forgotten City, the?Skyrim mod that became the only video game to win an Australian Writers’ Guild award. After years in development, it’s finally launching on July 28 across PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and the Switch. The full story into where it all came from is fascinating, so definitely catch up on some classic Aussie gaming history here.
Image: Totem Teller
Due out in 2022,?Totem Teller?is described as an “antinarrative video game about storytelling” with a glitched storybook aesthetic. The founders of the Melbourne studio behind the game, Jerry Verhoeven and Ben Kerslake, previously worked on?Alice: Madness Returns.?There’s no trailer for?Totem Teller?yet, but you can get a better sense of its style via the official press kit.
Totem Teller?is targeting a launch on Xbox and PC platforms next year.
Targeting a 2021 release date,?Grow: Song of the Evertree?is a studio from Brisbane. It’s the same team that made?Yonder: The Cloud Cather Chronicles, and so it’s no surprise that Song of the Evertree?has sandbox, slice-of-life management elements.
With music from the BAFTA-nominated Kevin Penkin, who also won a Crunchyroll award for his work on?the?Tower of God?series,?Song of the Evertree was officially unveiled at the Guerrilla Collective show this year. It’s got a gorgeous, vibrant style, but the pixellated trailer really doesn’t do the game justice: check out the full-res screenshots on Steam instead.
Grow: Song of the Evertree?is targeting a 2021 release for PC, Switch, Xbox One and PS4.
Image: Winter Ember
A stealth action game from Sydney devs Skymachine Studios (and published by fellow Sydneysiders Blowfish Studios),?Winter Ember?is currently aiming for a Q3 2021 release. It’s very strict on the stealth element, taking a lot of inspiration from?the original?Thief?games and from what I can see, titles like?Commandos and Shadow Tactics too.
Winter Ember?is one of the Australian projects to get a direct grant from Unreal, too. It’s launching on PC so far, but I couldn’t find any details on the official website or trailers about whether it’d come to consoles as well. (It’s also listing on GOG, if you prefer to buy through there.)
A project from Brisbane developers Broadside Games,?Bears in Space?is billed as a “triple-B” first-person bullet hell shooter. It draws heavy influences from?Ratchet & Clank,?the?Serious Sam?series and?Timesplitters, which are all three things I’d love to see mashed together. The developers also received an Epic Megagrant, which allowed the 3-person studio to begin working on the game full-time.
You can check out new gameplay from a fresh trailer below.
It’s targeting a 2021 release on PC only at this stage. There’s more info on the official Steam listing here.
An atmospheric explorer with?Breath of the Wild?vibes,?Lucen?is a new project from Aussie developer Kritsian Kebbe. “Armed with your sword, bow, and legends passed down by generations, you must set out on a quest to ask the mythical old gods for their help,” the game’s Steam page reads.
Lucen?received Film Victoria funding last year, and there’s several vlogs of the game’s development on YouTube. Kebbe hasn’t uploaded any new videos for half a year, however. So while the game has a release date of 2021, I’d wager that we’ll probably see this in 2022 or 2023. Solo development, after all, is very a brutal process.
Innchanted?is a gorgeous cooking simulator inspired by Indigenous Australian culture — and it was recently picked up for publishing by Asmodee Digital, a phenomenal achievement for a small Melbourne studio.
DragonBear Studios are currently hard at work on this excellent-looking co-op experience mixing magic with Overcooked, and we should be able to get our sweaty hands on it shortly.
Innchanted Is A Couch Co-Op Game Celebrating Indigenous Australian Culture
The game does not have a release date, but you can follow along with new updates on Steam.
Unpacking is a beautiful, pixel-art style puzzle game from Brisbane studio Witch Beam. It features zen, Tetris-like mechanics as players unpack boxes to decorate rooms and is absolutely stunning. As you unpack various boxes, you’ll uncover a subtle narrative about each room and the life of the person who lives in it, making it more than just a point-and-click. The intricacy of the game design here is spectacular, and every pixel is stunning.
Unpacking Isn’t A Traditional PAX Game, But It Was Easily One Of The Best
Unpacking?is due for a 2021 release, and you can wishlist the game on Steam here.
Len’s Island?is an upcoming adventure-simulation game featuring farming, fishing, decorating and?dungeon crawling. It’s the whole package in one and?it looks totally gorgeous. Whatever itch you have to scratch, it’s likely this game will deliver it in spaces.
Go hunting! Create your perfect home! Defeat monsters! You can do it all in?Len’s Island.
Len’s Island Is An Aussie Survival Adventure You Can Get Lost In
The game is currently set for an October 2021 release and you can wishlist it on Steam here.
Dead Static Drive?is a post-apocalyptic RPG road story featuring creepy monsters, existential cosmic dread and a ton of style. The upcoming adventure is published and developed by Reuben Games, a Melbourne-based studio which frequents PAX conventions (and has a very funny presence on Twitter) so you may have seen the game before. It’s been in the works for several years, but that hasn’t stopped the hype for it.
With an eye-catching art style and intriguing premise, this is one indie to watch. There’s no current release date, but you can wishlist it on Steam here.
There’s nothing better than swinging through a dark abyss, and Brisbane studio Team WIBY understands that better than most.
If you’re in the mood for a fast-paced, dungeon-crawling adventure you might like to (literally) jump into the wild, dark caverns of Phantom Abyss, published by our pals at Devolver Digital. Since it arrived on Steam, it’s become a top seller and there’s definitely a reason for its popularity.
Phantom Abyss has just begun its early access period, and there’s plans to add to the game over the next year.
Image: Jacob Janerka, Twice Different
The Dungeon Experience?is a weird action adventure developed by?Paradigm?creator Jacob Janerka and developer Simon Boxer. It aims to turn the RPG genre on its head with Janerka’s signature weird humour and shenanigans.
Paradigm was a delight when it released in 2017 and The Dungeon Experience is shaping up to be no different. Check out the synopsis below:
Visit The Dungeon Experience! A thrilling world of high fantasy run by me, a level 1 mud-crab turned entrepreneur. Put your real world responsibilities on hold with a first-person guided adventure! Or work for us, we’re hiring! Also we fixed that weird smell as of 23/10/2020*
The Dungeon Experience’s planned release date is currently “When the four moons of Xogris align and the Messiah Khidrius returns” but you can still wishlist it on Steam.
Hollow Knight: Silksong?is the sequel to the award-winning?Hollow Knight —?and might be one of Australia’s?most?anticipated indie games.
Developed by Adelaide studio Team Cherry, this is a standalone adventure set in the intricate world of Hallownest and follows new protagonist Princess-Protector Hornet as she defends her forest lands from a variety of deadly foes. Hollow Knight?was one of 2017’s best games, and it deserves a worthy sequel.
We?will?have to wait for it, but it’s sure to be worth it.
Hollow Knight: Silksong does not currently have a confirmed release date. You can wishlist it on Steam here.
Surf Club?is a gorgeous upcoming adventure from Melbourne’s Olivia Haines looking to recapture the peace and freedom of life at the beach. It rocks a pink-hued vaporwave aesthetic and cute designs, but we don’t know much about it yet. Still, the teaser trailer for the game is very exciting and we’re keen to see more from this solo project.
The game’s currently undated, but it looks set to be a wholesome, good time whenever it does arrive. You can follow updates via Olivia Haines’ Twitter page here.
Way to the Woods?is a gorgeous, dream-like adventure developed solo by Anthony Tan and planned for release on PC and consoles at some point in the future. It’s a beautiful-looking game inspired by Ghibli classics — but we will have to wait for the experience.
Tan provides frequent updates on the game via his website, and they’re?super?interesting to read through even if they make the game feel far away. Solo development is incredibly difficult, and Tan is refreshingly honest about how his progress is going.
Expect to hear more about this game in the near future.
Blueberry?is a tale of love, loss and grief following the journey of one woman from birth to death. With a premise like that, you can almost guarantee it’ll be a tear-jerker, but the premise and style is so intriguing it might just be worth the pain.
This lovely little gem comes from Brisbane’s Mellow Games and is set to tackle all those prickly, heart-rending moments we don’t often talk about it in life.
The release date for?Blueberry?is currently TBA, so hold your tears and wishlist it on Steam instead.
Spies & Soldiers?is an upcoming strategy game that plays out like a living board game. You’ll want to build your armies, traverse the game’s neat watercolour maps (accented by some sweet art) and conquer all on your path to victory.
Digital board games are on the rise, and this game (developed by two Melbourne-based brothers) looks like a real treat for the genre.
Spies & Soldiers?is currently set to march onto Steam in late 2021.
Wayward Strand?is a narrative adventure following a teenage journalist as she visits an airborne hospital and discovers the mysteries of its inhabitants. It’s developed and published by Melbourne studio Ghost Pattern and features a whimsical, storybook art style that’s easy to love.
The narrative here looks absolutely gorgeous, and you just?know?the game’s going to be a heartbreaker when it finally launches.
Wayward Strand?is set for a 2022 release and you can check it out via the game’s Steam page.
Broken Roads?is a narrative RPG inspired by classic strategy titles like the original Fallout.?We’ve showcased it on Kotaku Australia many times before, so you may be familiar with its beautiful art style and intriguing premise but if you’re not, now’s the time to get acquainted.
In the game, players will traverse a desolate Australian landscape and attempt to survive in the harsh wilderness. It features turn-based combat and a unique moral compass system that makes every single decision matter.
What’s Happening With That Philosophical, Post-Apocalyptic Aussie RPG
Broken Roads?is currently aiming for a late 2021 release date on PC and consoles. You can find out more about the game via Steam.
Conan Chop Chop?was originally revealed as an April Fool’s joke, but it’s actually very real.
Developed by Adelaide studio Mighty Kingdom, this game is a funky rouge-lite hack’n’slasher based on the world of Conan the Barbarian and utilises an adorable stick figure for hot-headed carnage. The fact this game exists at all is a miracle, but we’re so glad we’re getting it. It’s fun, silly and downright adorable.
Conan Chop Chop?is currently scheduled for an early 2021 release. You can wishlist it on Steam here.
Golf Story?was an absolute delight when it released in 2017. It combined a narrative adventure with classic golf gameplay to create a genuinely unique and enjoyable tale.
Sports Story?is set to continue this adventure and bring the franchise to new heights, but like others on this list we’ll have to wait for the privilege. While we know it’s set to include more activities and more fun this go around, we don’t currently know when the game will arrive or much else about it.
You can find out more on the game’s Nintendo hub.
Beyond the Veil?is a dark narrative adventure that explores the history of New Orleans through beautiful art and prose.
It’s developed by Melbourne’s Sun’s Shadow Studios and utilises text-based mechanics and a narrative-choice system that guides your in-game experience. With a moody atmosphere and a beautiful, colour-heavy art this is one adventure that really pops. The concept and style here are to die for, and it’s certainly a game that should be on your list.
Beyond the Veil is listed as coming soon, and you can wishlist the game on Steam here.
Australian?video games really are labours of love.
Our local video games industry is still developing and many studios lack the resources afforded to larger AAA titles around the world. Still, Australia is producing some fantastic games showing off just how passionate and talented our industry is. All of these gems and more deserve your attention over the coming months and years, no matter how long their development cycles turn out to be.
Have we missed any Aussie games you’re looking forward to? Are you an Aussie indie dev with a game to share? Tell us about it in the comments below.