PAX Aus 2023 is in its second day, and the show floors are as packed as you’d expect – but beyond all the waiting lines, giveaways, and bright lights there’s the PAX Rising and Indie Showcase sections to explore, and plenty of up and coming games that may just be your next favourite. I’ve collated a list of my favourite indie demos available to play this year for you to peruse and try out, should you need some guidance on what to try going into day three.
The Dungeon Experience
The cursed adventure of The Dungeon Experience involves a guided tour of a fantasy dungeon, facilitated by a low–level RPG mudcrab-turned-entrepreneur, and is all about absurd comedy. The PAX Aus demo promises players a soulful saxophone solo from the mudcrab – Jacob Janerka told the Freeplay Parallels audience earlier this week that George Michael’s Careless Whisper sax solo actually saved the game – and honestly, if ‘crab playing saxophone’ doesn’t sell you, I don’t know what will.
Another PAX Aus Indie Showcase winner, darkwebSTREAMER promises a paranormal experience like no other. Experience streaming culture on the dark web, Dybbuk boxes, parasocial relationships, and an internet from eras gone-by in the occult streaming sim with an infinite, procedurally-generated internet. The booth itself is set up like a ritual and while the lines have been long so far, it’s definitely worth the wait.
BattleBrew Productions has brought Cuisineer back to PAX Aus again in all its catgirl, roguelite, cooking sim glory. The mix between genres works so well and there’s gorgeous art to accompany the game, and so much to explore and try. As an added bonus, the ever-changing roster of weapons when dungeon-crawling for ingredients for your kitchen are massive versions of cooking utensils. As expected, attendees see catgirl and want to play, so get in quick if you don’t want to wait to try it out.
Bears In Space
Bears In Space is a fast-paced, bullet hell FPS inspired by titles like Ratchet & Clank and Serious Sam, and sees players take control of Maxwell Atoms in a zany adventure with whacky weapons and hostile enemies. All the while, the game layers in all sorts of funny little references to different games, films, and genres – so keep your eyes peeled to spot all the little Easter eggs as you play your way through the demo, and eventually the wider game.
Letters to Arralla
Letters to Arralla is studio Little Pink Clouds’ adorable debut RPG title, where you play a delivery Turnip tasked with delivering letters, parcels, and packages to Arralla’s residents. There’s a cutesy cast of fruits and veggies to befriend, problems to solve, and stories to learn. As the game’s PAX Aus webpage says, all the characters have “large, jiggly butts, we’re not exaggerating,” which they describe as the “epitome of game development” and I’m inclined to agree.
Copycat is another of PAX Aus’ Indie Showcase winners, and for good reason – the wholesome, narrative driven game explores the meaning of home and the human-pet bond through the eyes of a newly-adopted shelter cat. When a jealous stray copycat steals her place in her new home, she must explore the world to search for a new family as players experience a branching narrative in three acts. Check out the Copycat booth for an adorable, heartfelt tale – if you love cats, it’s definitely worth looking in on.
There’s so many more fantastic games to check out on the PAX Aus showfloor, like Drăculești – which is pitched according to the booth’s sign as “Gay Dracula, need we say more?” – The Godfeather: A Mafia Pigeon Saga, Broken Roads, and plenty of others at booths dedicated to New Zealand’s burgeoning development scene too.
For those at PAX Aus this year, what indie demos have caught your eye? Let us know in the comments below.
Lead Image Credit: PAX Aus