From November 18-19, Indie Jam 2023 took place at Lalaport, Bukit Bintang City Center, Kuala Lumpur. Over 30 indie games from the local indie game development scene in Malaysia and Southeast Asia were showcased to the public at the event.
The organisers at The Magic Rain has gathered this many games, developed by a range of indie developers (from established names like Passion Republic Games and Weyrdworks to up-and-coming one-person developer projects).
It’s astounding that so many devs was able to be there. The crowd was massive too. Mostly due to the cramped nature of the venue that can’t really fit more than 50 people in the cordoned off section of the shopping mall’s food court.
Due to this, the Gamer Matters team weren’t able to sample all of the 30+ games at the show floor, so it’s not fair to call this list the “best games” at the show. But we have narrowed down what we considered to be the coolest of the ones we tried that might pique your interest, as we did.
Weyrdlets, by Weyrdworks, is less of a game and more of a plaything. Described on the Steam page as “a relaxing desktop pet game”, Weyrdlets can be a game about taking of a small, cute pet animal on a tiny island, or it could be a desktop companion.
The latter is exactly what you would think. There’s an option to essentially minimise the game but have your chosen pet to hang out on the desktop- i.e. desktop toys that were popular in the 2000s. You can grab, pet, and even slap the pet.
As a game, Weyrdlets lets you collect items and decorate the tiny island with furniture with a good amount of customisation options. It definitely has an Animal Crossing-esque vibe in that aspect. Furniture can be resized, rotated and can be freezed, allowing for cool and/or cursed home decorations. Want to put a golden toilet suspended on the ceiling? You can.
Weyrdlets has no release date yet. As long as there’s no spyware or malicious data mining happening in the background (which desktop toys and companion apps caught huge flak back in the day- hello Bonzi Buddy), Weyrdlets looks to be a fun plaything.
Retro Invasion is a submission, and eventual winner, for the JOINTS Game Jam 2023, where the theme was “retro reshow”. Developed by a team of three called Antimeta Studio, Retro Invasion is a twist to the deckbuilding roguelikes- the combat is in real-time, sort of.
Rather than taking turns, you can only take action after a meter tells you you can take action, in the veins of Final Fantasy VII’s Active Time Battle system.
The deckbuilding aspects in the demo build has some neat cards that will alter your playstyle and gameplan depending on what card you pick that gets added to the deck. Some cards even manipulate the speed of when a turn is available.
And the team certainly have nailed an aesthetic they wanted to pursue, the art looks almost ready as a full game, when in fact it was made within the hours allowed in the game jam.
A playable demo of Retro Invasion is available on itch.io.
One Perfect Day
Developed by Spacepup Entertainment, One Perfect Day is a first-person narrative game where player character Andy is stuck in a time-loop, reliving a day at school.
What stuck out the most about the demo is how it portrays a nostalgic look of school life that Malaysians that went to school in the 2000s can relate to. From the classroom decorations filled with motivational phrases that seems a little off to native English speakers but makes sense if you’re a local, to the portrayals of familiar school kid stereotypes.
To someone who may grew up during that period of time, this has the potential to be quite the nostalgia trip. And in the bigger picture sense, it’s nice to see this specific memory is being presented, and preserved, as a video game.
Midwest 90: Rapid City
Midwest 90: Rapid City has the vibes of Fallout 1, but it’s not an post-apocalyptic RPG. Rather, it’s a post-apocalyptic tycoon game.
The game tasks you in building a restaurant that serves monster meat, and also have to contend to monster attacks which adds some tower-defense elements to this business tycoon game.
A demo for Midwest 90: Rapid City is available on Steam.
If you prefer your tycoon game a bit more wholesome, there’s Twilight Foundry’s Kooeh – A Timeless Delight. In this game, you are transported into another world where tapir talks and you help them out by running a restaurant, serving one-bite-delights, or as there known in Malaysia: kuih (pronounced like the games’s title, koo-eh).
Gameplay-wise, you’ll be opening up shop in the day, cooking and serving kuih and drinks. You’ll then spend the after hours cooking up new recipes, and you start the morning making a wish for more ingredients before setting up shop for the day.
While the gameplay loop is fine, it’s main draw is its portray of Malaysian culture, in particular the Peranakan culture. Food items uses ingredients that you expect should you cook them in real life, accompanied by flavour text that makes you appreciate each delicacy. And the starting restaurant has those plastic chairs and foldable tables you expect from a roadside stall in this part of the world.
Kooeh is still in development, but a playable build is available at itch.io.
Developed by Trueworld Games, Unyielder is a “Single-Player Boss-rush Movement FPS with an absurd and exploitable Rogue-Looter sandbox”. In other words, a roguelite FPS with some really good “schmovement”.
If you’re looking for fast-paced shooters in the vein of Ultrakill, Unyeilder should pique your interest.
Unyielder is aiming for a 2024 released on PC (Steam).
For the full list of showcased games at Indie Jam 2023, check them out here.
Indie Jam 2023 sure was jam-packed, and here’s hoping that there will be an Indie Jam 2024.