New Games & Hardware from SEA at gamescom asia 2021
For the first time, gamescom asia took place in Singapore from October 14th – 17th, 2021, after the event that was already planned for 2020 had to be cancelled last year due to the Covid19 pandemic. However, everything went well this year, and the Asian sister event to the big Gamescom in Germany opened its gates for game fans and trade visitors alike last weekend. In the truest sense of the word, because as a hybrid event, gamescom asia took place both online and in person.
Although the focus is on Asia, there were also many international guests and games to see. At Virtual SEA, we are, of course, primarily interested in the games from Southeast Asia, which we will focus on in this overview. Unfortunately, we were also unable to travel to Singapore in person, so we have to limit ourselves to the digital offer here. But that didn’t stop us from collecting the most exciting news for game enthusiasts from Southeast Asia.
Primetime for Indies from Southeast Asia
The entertainment area at gamescom asia started with an approximately 1-hour live show called Primetime. Moderator Victoria Cheng presented us trailer after trailer rather determinedly, and we were delighted to see a handful of indies from Southeast Asia aside some international contributions.
Surprising new announcements, that’s why we love events like gamescom asia. One such cracker was Knight Crawlers. This medieval brawler relies on chaotic physics-based gameplay, which we experience together with friends in couch-co-op. In addition to the usual dungeon crawling, we will also compete against each other in a vs-mode. Knight Crawlers is being developed by the new Singapore-based Good Morning Games studio, a married couple. According to publisher The Iterative Collective, Knight Crawlers will be out in the third quarter of 2022 for PC and later also for consoles.
Lentera Nusantara Showcase
We admit we were a bit surprised when the Lentera Nusantara logo suddenly popped up in the live stream show. We haven’t heard from the Indonesian studio for too long since their last game, Ghost Parade. It now shows that a lot was going on behind the scenes because Lentera Nusantara has several new games on offer.
The stories from the Ghost Parade, published in 2019 on PC and consoles, will continue on mobile devices. With Suri’s Adventure and Jagad Lelembut, two new adventures await fans of the Ghost Parade universe.
With Symphonies of Wonderlands, a new IP was teased, and the trailer suggests that this is a new game for the Nintendo Switch.
Then we finally got a glimpse at the first gameplay for the horror visual novel 101 Forgotten. In the trailer, we get introduced to some of the cast members and see that the game will probably take place in a school scenario and will have influences from Indonesian mythology.
Jikabu: World Wide Wipe is a coop multiplayer game in which we clean houses together. We seem to have a humorous title here that is primarily about good teamwork.
The conclusion to Lentera Nusantara’s showcase was made with an animated teaser trailer for Riki Rhino, which is expected to come out on the Nintendo Switch. Besides some impressions of the (eponymous?) Rhinoceros, the teaser yet leaves more questions unanswered than it answers.
Indeed, a lot is going on at Lentera Nusantara! We are excited to see how some of these titles will be developed, but one should watch the studio next year.
Extra for the primetime event, the Philippine studio Secret 6 released a new trailer for their 3vs3 multiplayer shooter Project Xandata, which has been in development for some time. With underlying pumping beats, it quickly becomes apparent that the shooter has found its role model in the visual style from Blizzards Overwatch but is significantly faster in the core gameplay. Project Xandata is reminiscent of classic skill shooters in the best sense of the word. We remain curious to see when the shooter will finally be released – hopefully, it won’t take too long.
Nimbus Infinity is no stranger to us either, but finally, there was gameplay again for this high-speed mech action game from Thailand’s Gamecrafter Team. The direct successor to Project Nimbus is visually very appealing and seems to burn off a decent firework of action. According to the Japanese publisher GameTomo, Nimbus Infinity will be released sometime in 2022 for the PC and possibly also for consoles.
We can’t wait to finally play Kaiju-brawler GigaBash ourselves. Too often have we seen the game in trailers at various events that a certain impatience is slowly spreading. Nonetheless, the latest video shows once again that we can expect some chaotic and colourful multiplayer fun. In the trailer, we saw many applicable special abilities in action and excerpts from the game’s story mode, which is told in a manga style format. Fortunately, GigaBash should finally be released for PC and PS4 in early 2022 to make an impression on ourselves.
Eximius: Seize the Frontline
The tactical and extremely complex multiplayer shooter Eximius: Seize the Frontline seems to have made a successful start as the beginning of the 2nd season was proudly announced with an extended trailer. Under the name “Nemesis”, an extensive update was released at the end of September, with many detailed improvements, a new map, weapons, upgrades and cosmetic enhancements. The Malaysian studio Ammobox also announced the Halloween event Harbingers Return. You can find out more about Eximius: Seize the Frontline in our review.
If we interpret the trailer correctly, the Indonesian mobile MOBA Lokapala will also be playable in other markets soon. It’s about time because the game, inspired by local myths, is trendy in Indonesia and should be available to more players. Of course, it remains to be seen whether there will still be room for another MOBA in 2022.
Kingdoms Reborn, a strategic city-builder from the Thai studio Earthshine, has also been released earlier. The game is currently in the Early Access program on Steam. The developer took the opportunity to draw attention to the upcoming Eras update that will allow players to guide the fortunes of different cultures. You can also find the first impression of Kingdoms Reborn in our EA review if you’re interested to know more.
Ubisoft Singapore remains vague
Let’s put it as it is: once again, Ubisoft Singapore’s appearance at a gaming event was a disappointment. After the multitude of controversies about sexism and working conditions around the studio and their parent company Ubisoft, we would have expected that Ubisoft Singapore would finally use this homerun event to make positive headlines.
But unfortunately, there was a lot of fuzz about nothing: Their flagship project Skull & Bones, which has often been postponed, was nowhere to be seen in the primetime show, nor did the studio use their stream to show us anything of substantial value. Instead, we received slightly embarrassing dance interludes with Just Dance 2022 and an interview with two (male) employees who never tire of emphasizing how great it is to work at Ubisoft Singapore. After all, the two confirmed that Skull & Bones is still in development and has currently reached beta status. Dear Ubisoft Singapore, it’s time to show us some gameplay finally!
The Iterative Collective
On the other hand, the indies showed off at gamescom asia. This is especially true for The Iterative Collective (TIC), a Singapore-based publisher and an incubator program. TIC had a whole portfolio of new titles to show, most of which were developed in Singapore.
In addition to Knight Crawlers shown in the primetime show, TIC presented us the following games:
Sigil of the Magi
This game by solo developer Yongjustyong combines roguelite deckbuilding elements with turn-based combat and relies on a minimalist pixel look in a classic fantasy setting. Sigil of the Magi will be released for PC on Steam and the Nintendo Switch. It will start with an Early Access version in the first quarter of 2022, which is expected to lead to a full release in the middle of the year. Implementation for the mobile platforms has not yet been fully confirmed.
The Signal State
For The Signal State, published in September, there will be an update with quality-of-life adjustments. The developers plan to involve the community more closely as they want to include a sandbox mode with a puzzle editor and competitions. The Signal State is a puzzle game inspired by modular synthesizers and is available on Steam.
We had already reported about the cartoon coop game “Stagehands!” at the beginning of the year, and after that, it was quiet about the project for a long time. However, TIC confirmed that “Stagehands!” is doing well and still in development. However, it remains to be seen whether the planned release date for PC and Nintendo Switch in 2021 can still be met.
The conclusion of the TIC portfolio is Class Rush, an endless runner game for mobile devices that was developed in-house. In cooperation with Titan Digital Media, Class Rush was released for Android and iOS in August and features many characters from the well-known YouTube web series Titan Academy.
Cargo Studio, another Singapore-based game incubator, has developed a platform for indie developers to build and ship games quickly. At gamescom asia, Cargo Studio already showed two of the projects that will appear for mobile devices.
Set in a fast-paced battle arena and played among four competing characters, Rumble Jungle sees players fight to protect their zone and rule the jungle. Each animal is armed with special skills to give players an advantage over their enemies in an arena with ever-changing maps and obstacles. With new challenges in every game, players will be kept on their toes as they battle to be the best animal paddler in the jungle.
Aesir Defense will test players’ tactical skills as they join the Aesir Army to build and defend their towers against enemies in this strategic game. Power your towers with upgrades, and aim for a high score to see how you fare against other players in the world.
When we announced Zecha Tactics for the first time at the beginning of the year, we were overwhelmed by the interest from our readers. As part of gamescom asia, we now had the opportunity to talk in detail about the game with Egg Srikureja, Marketing Coordinator at Thai-based studio BitEgg.
Zecha Tactics is a Mecha tactics RPG game, a combination of tactical mech battles, base-building and role-playing elements. On an overworld map, we send our mercenaries on missions that then result in tactical battles. After each battle, we can recruit defeated enemy pilots and salvage destroyed mechs. Using the resources gained from every victory, we can strengthen our mercenary crew and take on increasingly challenging quests as we explore the world map.
We asked the developers what their inspirations for Zecha Tactics were:
“For the game’s art direction, we’re heavily inspired by the early 90s Japanese mecha anime that we watched growing up, like Gundam and VOTOMs. As for the tactics gameplay, we take inspiration from turn-based titles such as X-Com: Enemy Unknown, Gears Tactics, Front Mission 3, and Final Fantasy Tactics.”
Zecha Tactics will initially be released for the PC, but console versions are also planned. Actual gameplay has not yet been seen, but the animations’ art style and the overall visual quality convinced us. No wonder as BitEgg already has experience from working on titles such as Indivisible or Shantae.
Exclusively for the readers of Virtual SEA, we present an in-game animation showing a sniper mech:
Bounty Brawl is a 4-player coop brawler in which we first work together and then fight for the loot. You read that right: At the end of every dungeon, your group encounters a nasty final boss who has to be dealt with together. Finally, everyone will fight for the treasure, and there will be only one winner. That sounds like fun gameplay but also like an endurance test for your friendships.
Otherwise, Bounty Brawl, played from an isometric perspective, is the genre-typical mix of colourful graphics, fast gameplay, RPG systems and customization options. Not only visually, but the game is also reminiscent of a multiplayer version of the roguelite hit Hades. Not the worst reference! Bounty Brawl will appear on the PC. You can already wishlist the game on their Steam page.
Don’t Step On Me!
Coming from Indonesian studio Grinsmile, “Don’t Step On Me!” is a quirky platformer battle brawler. You have to win the mascot competition with other players in various game modes using a stomping mechanic. The online multiplayer game for up to 4 players is coming to mobile devices in June 2022.
We’re getting real retro vibes while playing Exist.exe from the Malaysian studio Skyfeather games. In this puzzle RPG, we end up in a digital image of the game that our main character is working on. We were already able to try the demo and were thrilled by the pretty pixel art style and the challenging puzzles. The fights that take over elements from programming are also exciting but still feel very unbalanced and therefore partly unfair. Fortunately, the developers still have time to fine-tune the game!
Attack of the Earthlings Mobile
Junkyfish, the creators of the horror game Monstrum 2 (currently in Early Access), have studios in Scotland and Singapore. In addition to the games that have already been published, they also showed that they are currently working on the mobile version of their title Attack of the Earthlings. The stealth game with strategy elements is already available for the PC and impresses with its unusual scenario in which we as aliens defend ourselves against human invasions. The mobile version will retain the core game style of the PC version and its dark humour element, but it will be different in other ways to the PC version. The soft launch for Attack of the Earthlings Mobile is planned for the 2nd quarter of 2022.
Student projects don’t seize to amaze
There was also a place at gamescom asia for complete newcomers to the games business. It is often astonishing with what energy and creativity students from South East Asia create game projects that could have come from experienced teams. This is especially true for the two games presented here.
Hadal is the final year project of students from UOW Malaysia KDU. Under the team name Pseudo Studio, they have created an asynchronous multiplayer shooter that surprises above all with its dense underwater atmosphere and unpredictable gameplay. Interested players can download Hadal for free from itch.io and support the developers with a donation.
The puzzle game Water Child by Skyjus is also about liquids. Here the students have devised a visually impressive game world made of sand and ruins. We, as the protagonist, influence the environment and solve puzzles with the help of water magic. Little by little, we learn more about the background story of the game. Water Child, reminiscent of the genre classic Journey, is also available for free (or on a donation basis) on itch.io.
New hardware from Singapore
In addition to a lot of software from Southeast Asia, there was also a bit of new hardware to be admired at gamescom asia.
WRAEK Motion Pad
The WRAEK Motion Pad is a piece of PC peripheral manufactured by the Singapore-based company Wraek. It is a palm-controlled gaming device reminiscent of a classic wrist rest with a touchpad and is intended to add another input option to the keyboard. The Motion Pad is aimed primarily at gamers, and the developer sees possible applications in esport titles such as MOBAs and shooters. If you are interested in this new controller alternative, the Motion Pad will soon launch on Kickstarter.
So that was it, the very first gamescom asia in Singapore. Overall, the event can be regarded as a success because the organizers quickly switched to a hybrid format and thus finally created a stage for Asia’s game scene beyond the Japan-centric perspective of the Tokyo Games Show. We are, of course, particularly pleased that space has also been made for some Southeast Asian Games, but there were still some of the region’s key players missing from the show, such as Indonesia’s flagship indies Toge Productions. It also became clear that no major AAA producer was willing to show its games at this event. As already mentioned, Ubisoft Singapore was hiding behind an (undoubtedly popular) dance game, and the rumours about gameplay from GSC Gameworld’s Stalker 2 did not come true either.
As far as the consumer area of the show is concerned, we are left with mixed feelings and would have hoped for more than esports tournaments and trailer shows. On the other hand, gamescom asia was more robust in the business area. A varied program with exciting guests and talks on trendy topics like blockchain gaming or mobile games development was offered. This shows the tremendous regional and international interest in the game markets of (Southeast) Asia. Now that spark just has to jump over to the players, and players want to see (and play) exciting new games.
In the end, gamescom asia, in this year’s format, was a successful starting shot, which will hopefully continue in the future in a roused form. The next gamescom asia will then, as a physical event, take place from October 13-16, 2022, in Singapore.