Y’know how I’m always rattling on about how incredible the Australian games industry is in terms of new ideas coming from every angle? Well, what if there was a way to see where some of those fantastic new ideas come from? Spoiler alert: there is a way, and it’s in the form of university showcases for video game design graduates.
The 2022 RMIT Game Design Showcase went ahead the other night, and gave the gamer folks of Melbourne an opportunity to see just what the fresh minds of Melbourne’s budding game developers have in store for the industry. This showcase aimed to celebrate the work of students graduating from RMIT’s Bachelor of Design (Games) degree in 2022, and celebrate it did.
We’ve had suggestions in the past to show off the vast array of university students work in the game development world, and a showcase like this is a fantastic opportunity to do so! As a Sydneysider myself, I, unfortunately, didn’t get the chance to go to the showcase and check the games out, but thankfully the vast majority of them (which are all demos) are available on Itch.io. From further inspection, Anaglyph and Dark Ride Simulator don’t have demo builds online but I got to give Anaglyph a go thanks to a message from one of the developers, and it’s such a sick little platformer.
So in saying that, why don’t we have a geeze at what they’ve done, and if you see something that tickles your fancy you can try it out for yourself! We’ll also be including the students that were involved with the production of the games because they deserve to be recognised for the great work they’ve done!
Bell’s Beach is a ‘silly exploration platformer’ made by Chloe Kilroy, Billy Dent, Zac Vincent, Riley Baker, Tan Jin Feng, and Will Mitchell, with music composed by Oscar Jenkins and Julian Smith-Gard.
Bell’s Beach takes the concept of a ‘fishing mini-game’ and expands it beyond just the water. Your task is to discover and catch all sorts of slippery and scaly creatures that will appear just about anywhere on the island.
This game is definitely one of my favourites from the showcase. It’s just so goofy and light-hearted, and it’s absolutely bursting with personality. I love it! You can download Bell’s Beach here.
Cyberfell is a 2D side-scrolling sci-fi metroidvania developed solely by George Thomas.
In Cyberfell, you play a little robot that must explore the remnants of an abandoned spacecraft, meeting all sorts of weird little robots and befriending them along the way, while also battling security droids in the process.
While this one’s definitely a bit simpler than the last, it’s a lot of fun and great work from a solo developer making a game in the span of 13 weeks! It reminds me a lot of the old-school Flash games I used to play on Newgrounds back in the day. You can download Cyberfell here.
Dragon’s Lair is a cosy slice-of-life visual novel developed solely by Sadie Coughlan.
Dragon’s Lair follows a story of a new group of friends attending a university in Melbourne that come together to play Dungeons & Dragons at the Dragon’s Lair café (cue the picture of Leonardo DiCaprio pointing at the TV in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood).
This is a really nice slow-paced visual novel that puts a strong focus on the building of relationships through a shared experience of playing a tabletop game, as well as the friendship that grows around it in the character’s everyday lives. The character designs are just lovely, it’s just all so nice. You can download Dragon’s Lair here.
echo2nite is a turn-based game with roguelike elements developed by Hong Lam Chan, Kun Liang, Qiuhan Qi, and Zhengshi Zhang.
echo2nite takes the turn-based limited-movement mechanics of games like Fire Emblem and Mario + Rabbids and puts them in a roguelike combat environment where the player fights monsters in randomised maps.
This game looks really neat! I’m a fan of the eyeball monster designs, there’s something kinda cute but also creepy about them. You can download echo2nite here.
Florrae is a relaxing exploration game made by Konrad Thomson, Andras Krajko, and Iris Anstey, with music and sound effects composed by Paul Anstey.
In Florrae, you travel through an infinite world of hexagons where nature blooms around you with every step you take. In your journey, you also meet other Florrae Spirits that will guide you and unlock new pieces of nature.
This one is definitely another standout to me. The look, the sound, the procedurally generated flora… The vibe of it all is just so sweet. In the words of Liz Lemon, I want to go to there. You can download Florrae here.
Frame of Mine
Frame of Mine is a surreal point-and-click adventure game developed by Maddy, Maddie, Tabby, and Patrick.
Frame of Mine takes place in a strange house that, over the course of the game, continues to get stranger and stranger. As the protagonist, you must collect clues to solve the mystery that loom this abode.
I love a good point-and-click game, and the mystery that surrounds Frame of Mine is really engaging to me. The stark differences in the different areas of the house and everything being not quite as it seems is fantastic. You can download Frame of Mine here.
Garganta is a fast-paced platformer developed by Nathan Leafe, Nathan Vong, Matthew Spencer, Nawid Torkmani, and Ionathan Biniamin Maghidman.
In Garganta, players explore massive, barren structures in a world inspired by the works of Tsutomu Nihei, M.C. Escher, and media such as Metropolis and Eraserhead.
The visual design of Garganta is absolutely insane. The areas you journey through feel oppressive yet wonderous, and it’s genuinely a lot of fun. You can download Garganta here.
Mourning Glade: The Withering Torment
Mourning Glade: The Withering Torment is an isometric narrative RPG developed solely by Danny Hesz.
Mourning Glade: The Withering Torment takes the player through a dying fantasy world that confronts them with nature’s destruction by humanity’s hands. Through exploration and story choices, it is up to you as to whether or not nature’s decay can be restored.
This is yet another standout in my eyes. The harsh yet detailed colour scheme of the game really rings back to the clear message of environmental destruction, and the game feels like a solid love letter to the fantasy RPGs that came before it. You can download Mourning Glade: The Withering Torment here.
Only Wish is a 2D puzzle adventure developed by Qingyun Wu, Tianyi Ma, Zi Yin, and Jiaqin Xu.
In Only Wish, you play as a little cat called Mimi exploring an old Chinese village that is home to the legend of a magical healing dragon. As Mimi, you must embark on a journey to find the healing dragon in order to save your dying owner.
We love a good cat game, and Only Wish is a good cat game. The convergence of gorgeous visuals, clever puzzle-solving, and a heartwrenching narrative makes for a really beautiful experience. You can download Only Wish here.
Salem is a turn-based RPG adventure made by Fatimah Al Hassani, Tristan Kopetzky, Will Antonysen, and Jasmine Wang.
In Salem, the title character acts as our protagonist and must explore the large, lonely mansion that him, his plushie friend Buttons, and his mother inhabit. The game explores the emotional horror felt by a child seemingly lost in his own home, and includes a mix of atmospheric exploration and turn-based battles.
I actually really like this game, while I am aware that there’s room for improvement. The fear mechanic in the game having a direct effect on Salem’s ability to defend himself is a really neat concept, and the looming sense of terror that comes with exploring the house through the lens of a trauma-riddled 10-year-old is a really spooky treat. You can download Salem here.
Spooktale is an exploration adventure game developed by Bevan Guest, Bella Carrafa, Hantao Jian, Jen Figliola, and Zach Bradford.
Spooktale sees you stumbling into a rundown bar, only to meet a bartender desperate for your help. Using the ability of time travel, you must go back in time and collect clues, talk to the old bar patrons, and help the bartender make things right.
Of course, I was going to love this game, and I do. It’s goofy as hell, it looks adorable, and it’s a great time all around. I love silly little ghosts. You can download Spooktale here.
Star Child is a 2.5D exploration RPG with an emphasis on art direction and a cryptic narrative developed by Yiyi He, Lan Jiang, Henry Pham, Yue Wang, and Sadie Coughlan.
Star Child follows you, the Star Child, after you have just sprouted from the Star Tree in Starland. As the Star Child, you must explore the land and bring prosperity back to it by uncovering the mystery of the abandoned island.
The Adventures of Skelboy
The Adventures of Skelboy is an adventure game solely developed by Luke Rotella.
I’m just going to post Luke’s description of the game, as I couldn’t say it any better:
The Adventures of Skelboy is about a demon working in hi-fi who has to wake up his grandpa. His grandpa is currently sleeping on the moon so he has to borrow a rocket from the Wormo Sprout. The game is set in Skelboy’s home-town where you hang out with friends, watch TV and go on quests for 5 mystic wormo foods to satiate the Wormo’s hunger.
There is something so weird, wacky, and wonderful about this game. The mixture of the p-black and white doodle art style and the odd grainy 3D Geocities-era art style is so jarring in a great way. I can’t wait to see what else Rotella does next. You can download The Adventures of Skelboy here.
TV Head is an isometric mystery game developed by Gemma Knowles, Muhan Li, Rattakris Paeratakul, and Saffron Bradley.
In TV Head, you play a lonely character in an environment they don’t fully understand, where all of your peers have mysteriously ‘disappeared’ and you must be the one to find out what happened.
Visually, this game is just so fascinating. There’s something about little folks with TVs as heads that massages a certain part of my brain. This game has so much potential and is something I genuinely hope the team continue to work on. You can download TV Head here.
Let us know if you went to the RMIT Game Design Showcase this year and saw any of these titles, and tell us what you think! As well as that, let us know if you decide to download any of these demos, as I think they’re a really cool look at the future of our industry!
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