Indie games dominated much of the show floor at PAX Australia 2022, giving smaller, predominantly local development teams more space than usual to showcase their latest efforts. From inventive handheld projects to addictive roguelikes, here’s a look at some standouts.
Additional reporting by Eleni Thomas.
At each and every PAX event independent developers get a chance to promote their upcoming titles in person to thousands of attendees. Not only is it a great opportunity to advertise games ahead of launch, but it’s just as crucial for those seeking early feedback on projects still a year or two out.
After missing the past three years, PAX finally returned down under in 2022, giving Australian and New Zealand-based teams a chance to highlight what they’ve been working on. Taking up a third of the gaming show floor, a few dozen titles held crowds of thousands as gamers checked out some of the nifty ideas on the horizon.
While some games are certainly further along than others, and certain titles stood out with their loftier production value, a few managed to steal the show with their imaginative systems and refined gameplay loops. Here’s a rundown of just a few indie projects that left us wanting more at PAX Aus 2022.
The Godfeather: A Mafia Pigeon Saga (Hoji Studios, Australia)
A game that lets you control a pigeon and fire off bird poop at unsuspecting locals below? What more could we possibly ask for from an indie title? The Godfeather: A Mafia Pigeon Saga gives you full control of a pigeon soldier, your objective is to literally sh*t on as many people in the neighborhood as possible and show them who’s boss.
The project includes an in-game currency, used to upgrade your pigeon between attempts to help you complete each level and world. It includes a full day-night cycle in each run, with enemy owls appearing during the night to try and eat your mafia pigeon. We loved the premise of the game and attention to detail, with great audio and visual design really adding to the hunting goodness.
For those interested in diving into the mob boss underworld of the pigeon community, an early demo for The Godfeather: A Mafia Pigeon Saga is currently available on steam. As for the full game, the ambitious lone developer responsible for programming, animations, soundtrack, and everything in between is aiming for a release sometime in Q2 2023.
Anger Foot (Free Lives, South Africa)
From just a few quick seconds with Anger Foot you can quickly tell what this game is about. Fast-paced action, over-the-top visuals, and intense combat define this Devolver Digital-backed title as you kick and shoot your way through room after room. Essentially unfolding like a first-person Hotline Miami, enemies die in a single hit, but so do you. Your goal is to be flawless in rapid bursts, as one misstep or one poorly-timed shot could bring about an end to your run.
With tight controls and a wicked soundtrack to propel you through each stage, Anger Foot is an unrelenting adrenaline rush that we can’t wait to see more of in 2023. While no specific release date has been set for now, an early demo is available on Steam for fans to check out ahead of launch.
Box Knight (We Made a Thing, Australia)
Calling all disgruntled office job workers, this game is shaping up to be a great one for you. For a game still six months out from release, Box Knight immediately wowed us with how polished the design, narrative, and overall mechanics operated. It was one of the most refined indie games on display at PAX Aus 2022.
On the game’s official Steam page, developers We Made a Thing describe the game as: “The office has fallen into darkness. A ‘toxic’ workplace has transformed the once happy employees into dark and dangerous creatures. The office waits for a hero. You! Become the Box Knight and bring light back to this dark place.”
Box Knight will have you traversing through different locations and rooms of an office building in a roguelike setting with unique enemies generated in each area for you to defeat. With different types of attacks ranging from heavy hitting, light patterns, and more, Box Knight includes a simple but effective combat system to help take down the office foes in every unique run.
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As you go, you’re able to upgrade your character with unique abilities exclusive to that specific run, with customization options also allowing you to change the design of your office worker in the long-term. The aim of the game is to defeat all the “toxic” creatures who have invaded your workplace, all culminating in a boss fight against the company’s CEO.
For gamers who love a classic beat ’em up with a great premise and setting, this is definitely one to keep your eye on. An early demo for Box Knight is available on steam now, with the devs aiming for a Q2 2023 launch.
Rooftop Renegade (Melonhead Games, Australia)
For some party game fun, Rooftop Renegade stood out as one of the more thrilling local multiplayer experiences on the show floor. Your goal here is simple: make it through to the end of the stage by jumping, dashing, and sliding through a range of obstacles while others try to halt your progress.
With up to four players in a match, just one controls the rooftop runner while the remaining crew teams up on the opposite side to blast them down with a number of distinct loadouts. For us, this led to chaotic 1v3 battles where after each round, we swapped roles so everyone had a chance to show their skills.
Snipers, rocket launchers, and assault rifles all came with their own traits and special abilities while runners could pick from a set of power-ups to help on the treacherous path ahead. Further looking to keep each round fresh, multiplayer terrain is randomly generated, meaning no two stages are identical. But if you happen to find a level that works a treat, you can always save the seed and replay to your heart’s content.
If hectic multiplayer action isn’t your speed, however, devs teased that a full campaign mode will also be present at launch, as players look to flee AI-controlled Globacorp enemies instead. Rooftop Renegade is targeting a Q1 2023 launch on Steam.
Ultrakill (New Blood Interactive, United States)
While technically not a new title, Ultrakill nonetheless caught our eye on the PAX Australia show floor ahead of its full launch in 2023. With outrageous violence, floaty movement, and classic FPS mechanics, it harkens back to the Unreal Tournament era without sacrificing the polish of a contemporary title.
This game is just all-out fun if you’re a fan of the shooter genre. Each room has you in a flow state as you maneuver between targets and time your shots just right with a number of precise weapons. With a nifty combo system to boot, we can’t wait to see how speedrunners and leaderboard challengers approach this one when all three acts release in full sometime next year.
The Stranger Next Door (Fae Daunt, Australia)
We aren’t the biggest mobile gamers. However, The Stranger Next Door immediately caught our attention when venturing through the indie games section at PAX Australia. The Stranger Next Door is a horror game that takes place over the course of a five-day narrative experience.
The storyline takes place on a social media app, designed so realistically and with such great attention to detail that we were questioning whether it was an actual social media app. We were particularly impressed to hear that the game was being worked on by a one-person dev team in Fae Daunt.
The Stranger Next Door is a mystery-based horror experience that requires players to flick through social media feeds, ask questions and examine pictures. While an exact release date is yet to be revealed, gamers can expect to see this one popping up on mobile game stores sometime after Halloween 2022.