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November 25, 2023

Kenzie

Level Up KL 2023’s Indie Game Zone Fires up Malaysia

November 25, 2023 | Kenzie

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!

Gigabash

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!

Gigabash booth at Level Up KL

Chiyo

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.

Gigabash booth at Level Up KL

Kabaret

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.

Gigabash booth at Level Up KL

Kooeh

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?

Gigabash booth at Level Up KL

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.

Gigabash booth at Level Up KL

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.

Gigabash booth at Level Up KL

Nullspace

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!

Gigabash booth at Level Up KL

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.

Gigabash booth at Level Up KL

Weyrdlets

Weyrdworks’ desktop pet game Weyrdlets expands the “Clippy” concept into a fun-filled experience with different minigames and customization available to the players.

Gigabash booth at Level Up KL

Zombie Soup

Zombie Soup by AeonSparx delivers a fast-paced shooting frenzy that can become an addictive experience as you go from level to level!

Gigabash booth at Level Up KL

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.

Gigabash booth at Level Up KL

Ribeat!

The Philippines was represented at Level Up KL’s Indie Zone by Sweet Banana, letting players experience the amphibian rhythm of Ribeat!

Gigabash booth at Level Up KL

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.

Gigabash booth at Level Up KL

I Need Space

Indonesia’s Khayalan Arts showed their beloved games Samudra, and I Need Space to an audience of eager players.

Gigabash booth at Level Up KL

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.

Gigabash booth at Level Up KL

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!


Kenzie

Kenzie received a second childhood by crunching five generations of video game history in her free time – out of pure boredom and fascination. Since then, she’s been obsessively playing and writing about games and interactive fiction. She hopped aboard VirtualSEA to discover more about the regional game industry and help promote its talent and titles. She has a rolling list of favorite games, but Knights of the Old Republic and Horizon Zero Dawn come out on top.

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