Gamescom 2019 has just closed its doors and it is time for Virtual SEA to look back at the best games from Southeast Asia showcased at the world’s biggest consumer expo for videogames. We spent two whole days navigating the vast halls and tiny booths of the business area and running from one appointment to the next to bring you an overview of all announced or showcased Southeast Asian titles.
And it was worth it! More Southeast Asian developers were present at Germany’s great gaming convention than ever before. Indonesia and Singapore were presenting games and game developers at their own booths and other game developers were part of the notorious Indie Arena Booth, offering playable demos for the masses on the show floors. It is a clear sign that Southeast Asian gaming is on the rise and can compete with other gaming markets.
We have seen so many new and recently published indie from all kind of genres for nearly all available gaming platforms and we’d like to introduce them to you.
Without further ado, here are the best games from Indonesia, Singapore, The Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand at Gamescom 2019:
Potion Permit (Masshive Media)
Massive Media, makers of the hidden-gem RPG Azure Saga: Pathfinder, revealed their next game at Gamescom 2019. Potion Permit is a 2d pixel game in the tradition of Stardew Valley and Moonlighter: We are an alchemist apprentice trying to get his license in a steam-punk world. Fortunately, our village is haunted by the plague, a mysterious disease which we now must cure by determining symptoms and collecting ingredients to brew the right potion. According to Masshive, Potion Permit’s gameplay will focus on exploration and quests, yet it will include some simple combat mechanics too. Did we mention that we will have a dog companion who’s wearing goggles? Awww…
DreadOut 2 (Digital Happiness)
The pioneers of Indonesian PC game development are back with their second installment in the DreadOut saga. We played an early demo build and were surprised about the improvements in quality and playability. The first DreadOut was promising yet clunky and bug-ridden. Now, the controls feel responsive, the graphics run smooth and crisp. We still hunt various Indonesian ghost with our camera phone through skillfully crafted Indonesian neighborhoods. In the demo, we explored our home and a school, ending up in a small boss fight. NPCs, scripted events and lots of “environmental storytelling” round up the package. Along with Pulang: Insanity, DreadOut II is a hot candidate for the next Southeast Asian horror highlight should Digital Happiness be able to maintain this demo quality throughout the whole game.
Ciel Fledge (Studio Namaapa)
What on earth is Ciel Fledge? It always gets interesting when publishers struggle to explain their games. According to PQube, Ciel Fledge is a daughter-raising simulator. A mix between management simulation and visual novel. In a futuristic world, we adopt a 10-year old girl and from then on, our decisions begin to shape her character and future until her 18th birthday. Several possible outcomes can be achieved by framing her schedule and establishing her skills though a puzzle minigame. Ciel Fledge will be a slow game, requiring lots of dedication to learn the systems and the willingness to read long tutorials. Yet, the idea is fresh and the design is sleek. A game that’s probably better played than explained. We can’t wait for the release!
Coffee Talk (Toge Productions)
Set in an alternative Seattle, Coffee Talk is a barista simulation in which we serve orcs and elves while listening to their life stories. A smooth jazz soundtrack, retro pixel design and a heavy focus on narrative dominate the atmosphere of this strange little gem. While we mix varieties of drinks, we follow our client’s stories and give advice when necessary. Coffee Talk becomes the relaxing counterpart to stressful days and ever-increasing pace, becoming half visual novel and half mental relief program. The game will be released in January 2020 and we will surely spend some time in it brewing a thoughtful mermaid latte…
Necronator: Dead Wrong (Toge Productions)
We were excited to hear the announcement of the publishing deal for Necronator: Dead Wrong between Toge Productions and the new indie game publisher Modern Wolf, whose focus is on strategy games and the absence of crunch times during development, which is what they call “ethical game development”. Necronator: Dead Wrong is supposed to be a deck-building lane-defense game in cute 3d pixels with 2d sprites. Think the (reverse) gameplay of tower defense meeting the looks of Octopath Traveler. The game is scheduled for Early Access release in late 2019 on PC and probably later for consoles and mobile devices.
Gundala AR (Everidea)
Gundala AR is an augmented reality game for Instagram following the release of the Gundala Movie from the world of Bumi Langit, the Indonesian version the Avengers. We control our hero with mimics captured by the phone’s camera. While Gundala is running automatically, we can avoid obstacles by raising our eyebrows (jump) or cast electricity on our foes by blinking our eyes. The game is short and simple, without any storytelling yet a good example for the creative ingenuity of both Indonesian game developers and comic writers.
Day One (Everidea)
Day One is a story-driven mobile game about breaking up in relationships and the struggle of moving on. It features a 2D black-and-white art style, melancholic atmosphere and simple minigames. Awe play an average singer-songwriter dude mourning the end of his love affair with his ex-girlfriend called Jazz. Decisions made in the game will to up to four different endings while one playthrough will last about 40 minutes. Interested? Everidea is currently looking for a partner to publish Day One.
Wawa (Wawa Games)
Wawa is an arcade app with direct video stream of physical arcade machines located in Jakarta, Indonesia. Players can buy virtual coins and then remote-control the machine and earn prizes such as plushies or gadgets which will then be shipped. Currently it is only feasible in Southeast Asia due to input lag, but Wawa Games is looking for local partners in Europe.
Pulang: Insanity (OzySoft)
Pulang: Insanity is the hottest candidate for winning the prize in most accurate representation of Southeast Asia. OzySoft is paying immense attention to detail while rebuilding Indonesian landscapes, village and temples. With help of the Unity engine, the immersion into a mythology-based horror adventure where hiding and running way is a better option than fighting is impressive. The game’s story is focused on an Indonesian myth called “Pesugihan”, in which a ritual grants prosperity. One can imagine the cost of that ritual …Players who aren’t afraid of nightmares can check out the free demo on Steam.
Angkot: The Game (Oray and Plexus)
Those who have ever visited Indonesia have surely encountered it already: the infamous angkot. Tiny local busses operated by wreckless drivers who navigate the dreadful Indonesian traffic at breakneck speed. Now, collaborating teams Oray and Plexus mixed this hilarious setting with popular battle royale gameplay. Who will be the last surviving angkot driver and king of the road? Apart from Angkot: The Game, we received short introductions to the action adventure Hana & Caraka based on children’s storybooks, SMARAK!!! – a mobile game following a badminton comic series and – most intriguing – Dhukun Vs Syethan, which is an RPG set in the Indonesian mythology. There is a lot to come from Oray and Plexus in the future.
Mobile Games Showcase (Agate)
One cannot talk about Indonesian game developers without mentioning mobile-game giant Agate. And so, we had the chance to check their ever-growing portfolio for mobile devices. Among them were the mecha-fighter Metal Brave Arena 76, the e-sports management simulation E-Sports Saga, and Word Cross – a crossword puzzler (soon to be released in English). Last year, Agate ventured into the depths of PC console development with Valthirian Arc, and we can say that this won’t the last experiment on those platforms. At Gamescom, we had the chance to lay our eyes on a yet unannounced but still embargoed upcoming game and what we saw sure looked very promising.
Cat Quest II (The Gentlebros)
One of the pun-iest games of 2017 returns with its second installment: Cat Quest II. While the overall gameplay remains the addictive yet casual mix between combat and RPG standards, the game makes sure to retain its true strengths: cat jokes and polished attitude. So, what’s new in comparison the the first Cat Quest? The Gentlebros are adding a fun and a bit chaotic co-op mode, the game world is much bigger, slightly improved graphics – and dogs as playable characters now! We will know if Cat Quest II was a good boy when it releases in September on Steam and slightly later this year on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
Age of Glory (Just4Fun)
It’s 2019 and the MOBA hype is still big. So, there seems nothing wrong with Singaporean studio Just4Fun jumping in on the hype train with their mobile MOBA experience Age of Glory. They are trying to compensate for their lack in naming skills with more character skills and a focus on Chinese mythology as a background for their designs and lore.
Sairento VR (Mixed Realms)
Singaporean virtual reality ninja hit Sairento VR was playable at the 3drudder booth, showcasing its features with an upcoming VR controller. While not exactly a new announcement (the game was released in 2016), its presence at Germany’s major gaming expo is a proof of its success and importance for the VR gaming sector.
奔跑吧国宝 (Rock Nano Global)
We can’t say much about 奔跑吧国宝, except that it is a funny little runner/puzzler game for mobile devices with WeChat integration. Cute blocky animals and the fact that it is in the hands of Singaporean development studio Rock Nano Global make it a valid entry on this list.
Jack Axe (Keybol)
Jack Axe is a 2d platformer with an open world set in an interesting yet bit crazy mix between Norse and Filipino culture. We control Jack and her axe, but simple jump and run techniques won’t do the trick – we need to use our weapons cleverly to “solve” our way through various rooms and puzzles in a colorful pixel environment. Jack Axe can be played in co-op mode and is already available on Steam and Nintendo Switch.
Grand Guilds (Drix Studios)
Just like Jack Axe, Kickstarter success Grand Guilds was playable at the Indie Arena Booth for those who can’t await its release in September 2019. Grand Guilds is a tactical and turn-based RPG in which battles are won by playing the right cards. The game looks wonderful in motion and we can confirm a very good voice-over cast for the announced epic story of the game. Grand Guilds will be released for PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Bake ‘n Switch (Streamline)
While at first sight Bake ’n Switch seems like an unsubtle copy of Overcooked it still stands for itself: Throwing in an overload of cuteness and even more chaos, this baking “simulator” is most fun when played in coop mode with up to 4 players. Our goal is to bake little buns, monkeys and “dough-dos” by throwing them through the arena into the oven. Some recipes require extra flavoring such as watermelon icing. Slimy opponents and an even more chaotic versus mode round up the package. Bake ‘n Switch is our multiplayer recommendation from Southeast Asia at Gamescom!
No Straight Roads (Metronomik)
No Straight Roads, the upcoming music-based rhythm adventure from Malaysia, was showcased on Gamescom too. Unfortunately, Virtual SEA isn’t important enough to be allowed at the game’s presentation, so we cannot give our impressions here. If anyone here has played Wan Hazmer’s latest project, we’d like to hear your impressions in the comments!
Aeterno Blade II (Corecell Technology)
The only Thai-developed game at Gamescom was Aeterno Blade II as part of the PQube line-up. Truly the successor to Aeterno Blade from 2014, this game tries to improve its core mechanics without too many compromises: fast-paced 2.5d fighting with combos in a fantasy universe that could be of Japanese origin. Three playable characters, special abilities such as Time Stop, Warp and Reversal add up to the package. Aeterno Blade II will be released for all relevant platforms except PC and mobile on October 11th, 2019.
We were very pleased to see so many representatives of the Southeast Asian gaming scene visiting the Gamescom in Germany. We’ve seen many indie titles of great quality. The AAA-market still seems too far-fetched for the Southeast Asian market yet, with its only upcoming game Skull & Bones from Ubisoft Singapore being absent from the show.
Some countries were completely missing and some of the countries’ most promising games were absent. The reasons are probably that Germany is far and the prices for booths at Gamescom are high. Luckily, Koelnmesse announced a Southeast Asian version as Gamescom Asia. Scheduled for October 2020 in Singapore, the event will be aiming directly at Southeast Asian developers. Let hope this will be an opportunity to see more games from Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia as well as some participants from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Brunei Darussalam or Timor-Leste.
In the end, one can see that Southeast Asian gaming is on a good way, the games are getting more diverse and offer either new gaming mechanics or the involvement of local culture to create unique settings and stories. Studios are getting more professional and organize themselves and unite in teamwork to achieve higher, international standards. At Virtual SEA, we are looking forward into a bright future for Southeast Asian games.
Have you spotted other Southeast Asian games at Gamescom? Did we miss a highlight? Please let us know in the comments!