If you’re young starry eyed and have dreams of making it as a successful game developer despite being from little old Australia, let me assure you there’s no need to pack up and move to the US to join Santa Monica Studios. There has been tons of fantastic video games released from right here on our very own weird country continent land island thing! So, despite the minimal noise and fanfare, we’re actually living in a very exciting time for Aussie game devs right now! Because of this, I wanted to highlight some of my favourite video games from our very own. The list also seems to skew slightly newer and indie too, so there might be something here that you haven’t heard of and might even pique your interest! Without further ado, here’s a list of my favourite games from Australian developers!
Umurangi Generation is a retro futuristic photography game created by Tali Faulkner, who currently resides in regional New South Wales. Being a game about creating art, Umurangi demands you use your creativity when capturing photos. Sure, the objective is to snap a shot seven birds, but how you go about it is entirely up to you, as you traverse this bustling neon city with your camera in hand.
However, this experience isn’t just pointing your camera and clicking the shutter a la Pokemon Snap, oh no no no! Umurangi instead allows you to utilise real world photography techniques. Forcing you to consider elements such as framing, focus and lens lengths. But while this is a game about taking pretty pictures, it also delves deeper into themes of Neo-liberalism, colonization (Faulkner is of Maori heritage) and civil unrest for those willing to find it. The game’s credits even contain text dedicating the experience to “the Umurangi Generation: the last generation that has to watch the world die.”
Perhaps my favourite thing though, is how it feels to just exist in this game. I just love the aesthetic and general vibe. Partly because I’m a sucker for turn of the century, early 3D big blocky polygonal graphics. This feels like it’s been ripped straight off of the Sega Dreamcast. But its slapper of a soundtrack reflects that grungy, dirty street kid vibe too. So, if you’re looking for something a little more out there, Umurangi Generation might just be the game for you. It’s available on PC and just recently received a Switch port too!
The oldest game on this list, De Blob is also a game about creativity, al be it in the form a cute puzzle platformer. Here you must bounce around as a colourful blob to breathe vibrance and fun back into a monochromatic city that has outlawed such shenanigans. Literally painting the city however you see fit as your blobbish form leaves behind it a trail of slick coloured gloop. Tasty…? If you managed to paint all the grey buildings with bursts of popping colour, (all while avoiding the dastardly black ink) you will save the city and disassemble the nasty military dictatorship! Don’t ask me how that works.
I’m also a fan of De Blob due to the circumstances in which it was released. I’ll always tell people about this game when given the chance, as it didn’t release to much fanfare way back when on the Nintendo Wii. The console didn’t have too many third-party games that received much attention top be honest, which is a real shame! As creative, inspired games like this one are what made me a fan of the medium in the first place! Thankfully, De Blob and its sequel were re-released on the Nintendo Switch, and are well worth checking out if you want something light and breezy to play over a weekend!
The Haunted Island, A Frog Detective Game
Move aside shooty murder games, The Haunted Island, A Frog Detective Game is a lovely, wholesome little experience where you control a frog who is getting to the bottom of a very peculiar mystery, on, you guessed it, a haunted island. You crack the case by wandering around, collecting key items, and conversing with the island’s inhabitants who are all goofy, quirky and memorable. A particularly impressive feat as I think charm and humour is incredibly difficult to get just right in video games. (Another one of the few examples also makes this list!)
As opposed to trying to be cleverly written and witty though, THIAFDG (as all the cool kids call it) is just stupid, silly nonsense. The best kind of humour. I also love how this game looks too. It appears to have leaped right out of a children’s story book; font included. The frog, even just standing there, cracks me up every time. And that jazzy soundtrack too! Hot damn. So, if you’d like to check out one of the weirder PC games out there, do yourself a favour and check out The Haunted Island, A Frog Detective Game.
Untitled Goose Game
Also known as “Complete Arsehole Simulator”, Untitled Goose Game lets you live out all your fantasies of ruining everyone’s day. Why? Because f*ck you. As the game utilises the perfect vessel to do so, a gosh darn goose. Not going to lie, I’d probably lose in a fight against one of these. While it’s inherently hilarious to waddle around honking it up, UGG also has a few puzzle based objectives to complete in order to progress through the town, allowing you to maximise havoc. Whether its in stealing a farmer’s rake to creating feuds between neighbours, playing as the goose is a nonstop chuckle fest.
Also considering how easy it is to pick up and play, UGG makes for the perfect game to play with a partner who isn’t really into gaming. The two of you will be getting up to all kinds of avian mischief. The experience also wraps itself up before it ever overstays its welcome, which is ever important in a comedy-based experience such as this one. Highly recommended for those looking to take out their frustrations via aggressive wing flapping on some unsuspecting virtual children.
While I still love them dearly, I don’t think that every game has to be a seventy-hour long Japanese role-playing game. There’s just not enough time. I also think gamers have this weird perception of a game’s value creating this equation where overall cost is directly related to hours spent playing. I’m not sure it works like that. Especially when iOS games like Florence exist. This was an experience that took me about 30 minutes to complete. Yet I’d pay for a physical copy of this game twice over, because I still think about it all the time.
Following Florence Yeoh, a woman in her mid-20s who’s found herself in a bit of a rut. Stuck in the monotonous routine that is her working life. However, one morning when her phone dies on the way into work (the horror) she follows the sound of a nearby cello to find local street performer Krish. Game play takes the form of ‘conversation’, which is represented as light jigsaw puzzles. As Florence and Krish relationship deepens, the solutions to these conversation puzzles become increasingly easier.
Yes, it’s artsy, emotional and might not even be considered a ‘real game’ by a few reading this, but it’s the kind of story that uses the medium perfectly to tell it. So, if you’re looking for something to emotionally stir you on the train in to work (that isn’t the unhinged gentleman at the end of the carriage shouting bible verses) by all means go and check out Florence.
Other games that just missed out:
Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 2: Bush Rescue
Well that just about wraps up my list of games from Australian developers!
What did you think? Be sure to let me know your favourite games from Australian developers! comment below! Otherwise, feel free to check out some of our other gaming blog posts here, or check out some of our other content over on our YouTube Channel.