Remember that fund for small developers that Screen Australia announced not too long ago? Well, the absolute madmen are putting it into action.
In a press release, Screen Australia has announced the 31 Australian-made games that will be receiving government funding as part of the Games: Expansion Pack fund.
While the allotted amount for this fund was initially $3 million, it seems like Screen Australia was so impressed with what they saw (and rightly so, our industry’s talent is impeccable) that they decided to bump it up to $4 million. You love to see it, folks.
As part of the announcement, Minister of the Arts Tony Burke said, “The Australian Government is committed to supporting the Australian digital games sector – to create, innovate and flourish and achieve its full potential.”
“After strongly advocating for the reinstatement of the Australian Interactive Games Fund for many years, we thank The Minister for the Arts, the Hon Tony Burke MP and the Australian Government for their support of the highly creative and technically skilled video game industry. Games: Expansion Pack is directed toward emerging, or small to medium independent games studios. It was fantastic to see Screen Australia bolstering support to cater to the high demand and quality of applications for the initial round of funding.”
“The Digital Games Tax Offset (DGTO) is also due to be introduced and legislated this financial year and is aimed at larger projects and studios. By assisting early career developers, products and studios through Games: Expansion Pack, the Albanese Government is set to facilitate support across the entire game development ecosystem. This will result in growth in employment, promotion of digital and screen skills development, plus increased revenue for the highly talented and reputable Australian game development industry.”
Small Australian developers are winning, finally! We love it! We love it very much so!
Now for the juicy part: what are the games that have been chosen for the Screen Australia fund? Here’s an exhaustive list of all 31 games that will be receiving government funding.
A Halloween Valentine (PC, PS5, Switch)
A Halloween Valentine is a pop-song puzzle adventure set in a haunted amusement park on Valentine’s Day. It’s being made by Things For Humans, a Melbourne-based studio known for their PC/Switch game Video World, which is an absolutely fantastic game that you should definitely check out.
Azoic is a puzzle adventure game that sees you playing not just a rock golem, but very specifically the orb that plays the role of its head. Using both the orb and the golem body, you must solve puzzles and make the ruins bloom. It’s being made by Melbourne-based studio Tumbleweed Games, and the best part about this one is that there’s a demo available!
Bits & Bops (PC)
Bits & Bops is a game consisting of a collection of rhythm games. It’s being developed by Sydney-based studio Tempo Lab Games, and is going to be filled with original bangers and lovingly hand-drawn graphics. It’s giving me very wholesome Rhythm Heaven vibes based off of their short gameplay video. This is a game that needs to be on Nintendo Switch.
Bonza Phrases (Mobile)
Bonza Phrases is a word puzzle game that will use various proverbs, idioms, and figures of speech that are a part of the everyday Aussie language. It’s being made by Minimega, a Bellingen-based studio run by Ben and Punya Huxter. They’re also known for their other Bonza games such as Bonza, Bonza Planet, and Bonza Jigsaw, as well as their most recent title Word Laces.
Bosswords (Mobile, PC, Mac)
Bosswords is, mysteriously, a ‘compelling and challenging word game’. It’s being made by PlayReactive, a Melbourne-based studio that has experience in both virtual titles as well as physical game events, immersive theatre experiences, and zines. Basically, they do a whole lot of different kinds of stuff!
DROS (PC, Xbox Series X|S, PS5, Switch)
DROS is a 3D action-adventure puzzle-platformer where you play a knight and his… trusty goo. It’s being made by Brisbane-based studio emergeWorlds, who are more known for their work with virtual reality. Anything with goo is a good time to be had, in my personal opinion. Please quote me on that.
Earthlingo (Mobile, PC, Mac)
Raymond Corrigan & Zilin Su
Earthlingo is an educational platformer designed to help players learn a new language by being a little alien exploring a planet. It’s made by Perth-based developers Raymond Corrigan and Zilin Su. This one’s already been released, so it’s possible that they’ll be building upon the 14 languages that the game already provides.
Enchantress (Mobile, PC, Mac, Switch)
Enchantress is a casual crafting adventure/visual novel about a young woman running a jewellery shop. It’s being made by Melbourne-based studio Cactus Jam Games, a new studio consisting of Nidula Geeganage, Julia Ye, Audrey Castillo, and Friyana Madon. It’s also their very first game as a development studio, how exciting!
Enter the Chronosphere (PC)
Enter the Chronosphere is a tactical bullet-hell roguelike where each turn is a slice of real-time action. It’s made by Melbourne-based studio Effort Star, who have also made goofy and freakin’ hard shooter The Ballad of Sir Gatling. If their past work as well as their itch.io page for this game is anything to go by, this is also going to be a very fun and very torturous experience.
Fox and Shadow (PC, Mac)
Fox and Shadow is a deckbuilding game with roguelike elements where you salvage scraps as drone-wielding pilots in order to keep your home running. It’s being developed by Paper Cactus Games, a new studio based in South Australia. They’ve been posting a lot of neat drone-based comics on their Twitter, which is great because I love cute little robots.
Future Folklore (Mobile)
Future Folklore (working title) will be a casual crafting game where you restore the bush and Care for Country through an Indigenous lens, set in a futuristic fantasy Australian-bush setting. It will be the first-ever Aboriginal-led mobile game from Melbourne-based studio Guck, and features so many incredibly talented Aboriginal developers. Not much is known about the game just yet, but I can’t wait to see what they do!
Gubbins is a word puzzle game about placing chunks of letters to make words with the help and hindrance of ‘wildcard modifiers’. It’s being made by Melbourne-based Studio Folly, with the musical stylings of Katarzyna Wiktorski to boot. This mobile game is going to be one to watch, so stay tuned here as we may learn a bit more about it in future.
Hotel Magnate (PC, Mac)
Hotel Magnate is a hotel and resort tycoon game where, plain and simple, you run a hotel and resort. It’s being made by Sydney-based developer Arcade Oven, and is also their first game. It’s currently in early access on Steam, so you can give this one a go! The reviews are mixed, but it is very much still in early access so it’s something that the devs are still working on!
Legend of Valley (PC, Mac, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4/5, Switch)
Legend of Valley is an action-adventure game where you explore a dangerous and mysterious valley to discover the secrets of the past. It’s being made by Adelaide-based studio Shark Jump, who have a host of mobile games in their portfolio so it’ll be cool to see their jump to PC and console! The soundtrack is also being done by Kevin Penkin, so I’m pumped.
Leonardo’s Moon Ship (Mobile, PC, Mac)
Leonardo’s Moon Ship is a narrative puzzle-adventure where you play Leonardo da Vinci on a grand adventure. It’s being made by Hobart-based studio Secret Lab, who you may know from their work on Night in the Woods. This game is going to be an absolute doozy if the team behind it is anything to go by, including the WRITER of RATATOUILLE????
Macabre (PC with VR support)
Macabre is an immersive multiplayer horror game being developed in Unreal Engine 5. It’s being made by Sydney-based developer Weforge Studio and it looks very scary to me. You’re part of a small research team investigating strange events, which is already a spooky premise. The maps in the game are also procedurally generated because there’s nothing more terrifying than being completely lost. You can wishlist it on Steam here.
Matchmaker: Dungeon Heart (PC)
Matchmaker: Dungeon Heart is a puzzle role-playing dating sim where you defend a dungeon and date the monsters that dwell within it. It’s being made by Melbourne-based studio Ghost Moth, helmed by Jordan Cook-Irwin who also worked on fantastically-sad game You Will (Not) Remain, which came out earlier this year and is very, very good. It’s also free, so play it!
Moon Corp Tower Defense (PC, Mac, Console TBA)
Moon Corp Tower Defense is a tower defense/business management game where you manage a research company that also happens to fight alien invasions of the moon. It’s being made by Canberra-based studio Kite Shield Interactive, and has a demo available now on Steam. It’s also planned for release this year, so you can look forward to playing this one soon!
Moonlight in Garland (PC, Mac)
Moonlight in Garland is a chill open-ended life sim about finding your feet in the big city. It’s being made by Melbourne-based developer Violet LeBeaux, and honestly looks like it was made for me. This game looks so pretty, I’m obsessed with it. It reminds me a lot of those pixel-based dress-up games and interior design games from the good ol’ Flash days, and I’m all about it.
Planetation is a first-person co-op ‘farmvival’ game where you will plant, explore, harvest, shoot, build, refine, and die with up to 7 of your friends. It’s being made by Cairns-based studio 2Bit Studios, and seems to take the farming sim genre to a much deadlier level. If there’s anything scarier than the concept of farming, it’s farming on a so-called ‘bloodthirsty alien planet’.
Project Feline (PC, Consoles TBA)
Project Feline is a catgirl parkour game where you traverse anime-inspired urban landscapes as catgirl Gabi. It’s being made by Sydney-based developer Raymond Cripps of Fischer-Cripps Laboratories. If there’s anything I wanted from Mirror’s Edge, it was the ability to also be an anime catgirl. You can give the alpha build of the game a go here!
Schrodinger’s Cat Burglar (PC, Mac, Switch)
Schrodinger’s Cat Burglar is a puzzle adventure where you play the world’s greatest cat burglar that must explore a secret research facility to uncover its secrets after being caught in a quantum experiment and gaining incredible superpowers. It’s being made by Brisbane-based studio Abandoned Sheep and… Hey… I swear I’ve seen this cat before…
Servonauts (PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4/5, Switch)
Servonauts is a action-puzzle game where you, a goofy Servonauts, must manage pipes and avoid fatalities to provide fuel, air, and other necessities to visitors of your space gas station. It’s being made by Brisbane-based studio Maxart, which has a history of building training and simulation systems for companies and case studies. It’ll be interesting to see their foray into commercial gaming!
Starwisp Hyperdrive (PC, Mac, Xbox Series X|S, PS4/5, Switch)
Starwisp Hyperdrive is a cosy role-playing exploration game where you inherit a spaceship that’s a bit of a stinker, so you have to fix it up as well as find your place… in space! It’s being made by Melbourne-based developer Ghost Cat Games, who also have an absolutely lovely point-and-click adventure game out now called Pants Quest, so check that one out!
The Dungeon Experience (PC)
The Dungeon Experience is a fever dream where you go on a high fantasy adventure guided by a crab. It’s being made by Perth-based studio BONE Assembly, consisting of Jacob Janerka (creator of Paradigm) and Simon Boxer (creator of Ring of Pain). Honestly, this game looks so fucking stupid and I am very excited for it. The image above is literally just called ‘Boy’ and just that had me laughing. Wishlist it.
The Indigo Initiative (PC, Xbox Series X|S, PS5)
The Indigo Initiative is a puzzle adventure game where you play a scientist awoken from cryostasis that must explore the multiverse for a way to undo the cataclysmic event that happened many years before you were woken up. It’s being made by Sydney-based one-man studio Caustic Reality a.k.a Clinton McCleary, who was also behind the 2018 horror game Infliction.
The Master’s Pupil (PC, Mac, Xbox Series X|S, PS5, Switch)
The Master’s Pupil is a hand-painted 2D puzzle adventure game set inside the eye of the artist Monet. It’s being made by Sydney-based developer Pat Naoum, and Jesus Christ On A Bike. Hand-drawn games always catch my eye because there’s something just so visually pleasing about them, but hand-painted? Wow. This is visually stunning.
Timesavers is an action puzzle game that poses a business proposition: look into people’s futures, stop accidents before they happen, and get paid for it. It’s being made by Adelaide-based developer Monomyth Games, who also have another game out called Need to Know, which is a surveillance thriller sim where you work at an NSA-type surveillance agency called The Department of Liberty.
Totem Teller (PC, Mac, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S)
Totem Teller is a transcendental narrative game where you must explore a vibrant world as a muse and seek out lost folklore, gather listeners, and seek tellers. It’s being made by Melbourne-based developer Grinning Pickle, and looks to be in a similar experimental experiential ilk as games like Journey. The art style is very, very cool. Truth is in the telling.
Untitled Wombat Brawler Gamer (Mobile, PC, Mac, Xbox Series X|S, PS4/5, Switch)
A casual multiplayer arcade game where you crash your way through obstacle courses and create your own courses. It’s being developed by Melbourne-based developer Wombat Brawler.
Untitled Exbleative Game (PC)
A racing game being developed by Adelaide-based one-man development studio Exbleative, who also made space exploration game EXO ONE.