Level Up KL, part of Malaysia Digital Content Festival 2023, celebrated the mighty game development scene fostered in the country for many years. Since its beginnings seven years ago, this conference and expo has been a proving ground for Malaysian indie games.
The Rise of Malaysian Indie Games
While industry heavyweights like Playstation, EA, Larian Studios, and more have established operations in the country, Malaysia’s homegrown independent talents are delivering projects that are making waves in the international gaming consciousness.
Level Up KL’s Indie Game Zone
This year, Level Up KL’s Indie Game Zone, sponsored by Xbox, invited independent games and game development student projects from all over the globe.
Virtual SEA had the opportunity to try out these amazing games – here are some of the standout projects that proved there’s so much to look forward to in the Southeast Asian indie game development scene!
Indie Zone attendees were greeted by the sprawling demo floor of Passion Republic’s kaiju fighting game, Gigabash. One of the best parts of the booth was the super fun selection of merch!
Nimbus Games’ horror title, Chiyo, is set in a spooky abandoned mansion in Japan’s Edo era, where you play a paranormal investigator getting to the bottom of an eerie mystery. The game’s horror styling also earned it a SEA Game Award for Best Sound Design.
Persona Theory Games’s Kabaret had vibes and merch that captured its audience. Southeast Asian mythology shines through a modernized style in the visual novel.
The cute and cuddly restaurant patrons of Twilight Foundry Games’ Kooeh may be demanding your restauranteur services, but who could say no to those cute faces?
Midwest 90: Rapid City
Hidden Chest Studios’ Midwest 90: Rapid City explores a more threatening dining experience, where you undergo the existing difficulty of running a restaurant, all while protecting it from siege by hungry, ruthless monsters.
My Mechanical Mother
The student presence at Level Up KL is incredible, and My Mechanical Mother is only one of the many innovative experiences of young developers at the Indie Zone.
Nullspace is a radical departure from Kaigan Games’ popular Simulacra thriller franchise, but it has been received well – and received a couple of SEA Game Awards on top of that!
Paper Ghost Stories: Third Eye Open
Cellar Vault Games’ Third Eye Open is a follow-up to their horror thriller visual novel 7 PM. Presented in the same impressive papercraft style, we can’t wait to see the coming-of-age story unfold from the eyes of spirit-seer Ting.
Weyrdworks’ desktop pet game Weyrdlets expands the “Clippy” concept into a fun-filled experience with different minigames and customization available to the players.
Zombie Soup by AeonSparx delivers a fast-paced shooting frenzy that can become an addictive experience as you go from level to level!
Soft Source Publishing
Soft Source Publishing was also present on the exhibition floor to show off its portfolio – with many Southeast Asian titles in the mix.
The Philippines was represented at Level Up KL’s Indie Zone by Sweet Banana, letting players experience the amphibian rhythm of Ribeat!
Bumi: Next Stop, Earth!
The global team of Blamorama games had the educational mobile title Bumi: Next Stop, Earth! – a cozy city manager game that tackles the pressing topic of climate and environmental issues.
I Need Space
Indonesia’s Khayalan Arts showed their beloved games Samudra, and I Need Space to an audience of eager players.
The Land Beneath Us
Thailand’s Fairplay Studios had a hit roguelite in their hands with The Land Beneath Us, with many people lining up to try the dungeon crawler with lore based on Welsh mythology.
Key Themes and Trends
What are some exciting trends we observed at the Indie Games Zone?
Level Up KL is a premier gaming event in Southeast Asia. The branding and marketing of indie games are crucial for their success, which was evident in this year’s event. Malaysia’s game development education programs equip students with technical skills and creative freedom. The Indie Game Zone showcased a variety of genres, platforms, art styles, and vibes, exemplifying the numerous perspectives that contribute to the gaming ecosystem. MYDCF 2023 offered something for all creatives.
Games with Personality
The opportunity to show off your games to a business and consumer audience is a significant step to further develop your game. The creative and hardworking devs devoted time not just to their demos but to their booth experience. A greater understanding of branding and marketing games showed itself in the well-explained presentation and even game/studio merch. This aspect of indie games is proving to be essential for success – and this cohort of indies seems to be getting on the right path!
Students Bring Professional Flair to Level Up KL
Upon entering a booth, it could become a habit to ask if the game was a student work or came from a studio with significant experience. It was clear that the products of Malaysia’s game development education programs have equipped students not only with technical skills but also with the freedom of creativity in their work.
Variety is the Spice of Life
One of the best things about the Level Up KL Indie Game Zone experience is the variety of options to choose from – the variety in genres, platforms, art styles, vibes, and more exemplify the numerous perspectives making games in the ecosystem.
Level Up KL holds its own as one of the premier gaming events in Southeast Asia. Together with the Kreatif and Immerse KL, MYDCF 2023 delivered something for all creatives!