PAX Aus 2023: Renee’s Annual Indie Roundup

PAX Aus 2023: Renee’s Annual Indie Roundup

The PAX Rising indie showcase was massive this year, and while I’m not complaining, after three days of walking around the MCEC, my legs and back sure are.

But this year, PAX Rising wasn’t the lone indie section on the show floor. This year, it shared the limelight with games from across the Oceanic region: Ukiyo brought eight indies from its SEA What I Made showcase, four from its Japanese launchpad, and a pair of games from Italy and LA for good measure. If that weren’t enough, NZCode staged a giant booth showcasing a whopping 20 games. A 12-game increase from the previous year! With so many incredible games available, how does one ever pick just ten to put in a Best Of list? I don’t know, but I’ve given it a red hot go. 

Memory’s Reach 

I heard about Memory’s Reach head of PAX as the developer Ben reached out to me to tell me about it. I was already sold on the premise of a metroidvania puzzle game with environmental storytelling, but to see it was from 100 Stones Interactive, the studio that released The Eyes of Ara, I became a great deal more excited.

Looking at the promo art gives off a similar feel to Metroid Prime and that is completely intentional. A Metroid Prime with no combat, thoughtful puzzles and an interesting story? Hook it into my veins. I played Memory’s Reach on Friday and it remained my game of PAX for the remainder of the show.

Wishlist Memory’s Reach on Steam here.

Tavern Keeper 

Restaurant management sims are popular these days and it’s no wonder — they’re a good time. While it seems like every angle the genre could capitalise on has been found and capitalised on, Tavern Keeper gives me the one thing many similar games were missing: the ability to completely customise the Tavern. And I mean truly customise. You can change the width and length of the tablecloths on the tables. Build bookshelves so they have the right amount of nooks and crannies. This is the sort of customisation missing from management and life sims like Animal Crossing and FFXIV’s housing. Add in a bite-sized interactive storybook as a storytelling device, and it becomes a perfect combination of elements I adore. Wishlist it!

Wishlist Tavern Keeper on Steam here.


Ailuri previously appeared at PAX Aus 2019, showing what was then an initial build of the game. The team have come back five years later to exhibit what they’ve accomplished in the intervening period. Ailuri is both the game’s title and the name of its central character, a little red panda who is trying to help other endangered animals like herself. She must traverse game’s forested terrain to reach these other animals, a heartbreaking story about animal conservation unfolding around her. It also has couch co-op so two can explore this beautifully drawn world together.

If the art seems a little familiar, that might be because the studio Vivink also made some Australian Pokemon concepts that went viral a few years ago. You might remember Pokemon Yeah and Pokemon Nah? That was the work of an artist from this team. I’m a sucker for hand-drawn art and Ailuri is so adorable. It reminds me of Ori and the Blind Forest so I will most likely cry when I finally play the full thing.

Wishlist Ailuri on Steam, and play its demo, here.

Go-Go Town 

When you somehow find yourself as Mayor of Go-Go Town, a run-down former tourist destination, the town’s problems are suddenly yours to solve! Buildings that have seen better days will need to be fixed with a variety of handy tools. As the town expands, you’ll hire people to help with resource gathering. Planning is important: you need to plan shops, organise their income and make sure the supply lines don’t become clogged. Tough work being the mayor.

To me, Go-Go Town feels like what Animal Crossing might be like if it had actual stakes. It makes you want to do a good job. You want to run it as smoothly as possible, not just for yourself, but for your residents too. Making it into the best and most profitable tourist trap around would feel pretty satisfying. 

Wishlist Go-Go Town on Steam here.

Detective Ridelle 

Detective Ridelle reminded me of Cing’s Hotel Dusk: Room 215 when I was watching the trailer. Cing made a lot of games like this, but when they shut their doors in 2010, they left a market gap that was never filled. I hope that Detective Ridelle will fill that void, because I miss these kinds of games, and the good news is that it appears to be giving it a go. A combination of escape room puzzles with visual novel-type storytelling, interrogating possible suspects and interesting characters makes me very excited to try the full game.

Wishlist Detective Ridelle on Steam, and play its demo, here.

Sunset Satellite 

How about a visual novel where the main characters are a happy-go-lucky Doberman and a cynical young adult who can somehow talk to dogs? In Sunset Satellite, a fictional Malaysian town is experiencing a severe post-pandemic economic downturn. Desperate for a job, Nello agrees to walk the Doberman Patras for a bit of extra money. During their first walk, Patras discovers Nello can understand him. On subsequent walks, the unlikely duo will begin to understand the world around them and learn about each other.  

Sunset Satellite is different from other visual novels in that the background is constantly moving as the characters walk along. It’s not about changing locations it is purely about the characters themselves and their discoveries. 

You can find Sunset Satellite, and its demo, on

Beyond These Stars 

Wanna build a town? Been there, done that. There’s another game about doing that earlier in this very list. But what about building a town on a space whale? Oh, are you interested now? Me too. Beyond These Stars is the town-builder sequel to Before We Leave, which you might remember launched in 2020. Beyond These Stars expands on the lore of the original, but you don’t need to have played the original to understand this one. The narrative-first approach is what’s pulled me in here. I love it when there’s town-building and a story to go with it. Yes, give me that narrative-driven gameplay.

Kewa, the space whale, will travel through the universe as the humans build their city on its back. If they progress enough, the humans might even be able to communicate with the ancient Kewa.

Wishlist Beyond These Stars on Steam here.

Diets & Deities 

The deities have lost their powers due to people becoming less and less interested in their culture. The cause of this is a mega-corporate capitalist machine, KFZ. In an attempt to save these gods, players will be required to prep, cook and serve delicious meals but with a difference. All these steps are done through a rhythm game. Dodge the spikes, collect items and fill up the bar to create a cultural feast for these depressed deities. At the end, players are given a recipe so that they may cook the culinary result themselves.

This was also the only game I found on the show floor that had any Australian indigenous representation, so bonus points for that. Players will get to experience Australian, Brazilian and Balinese dishes throughout the game.  

Wishlist Diets & Deities on Steam here, and sign up to be a playtester if you want.


Speaking of indigenous representation, Denari has New Zealand covered. It features a young man named Taiu who wants to be a warrior in service of the Goddess Qira who has protected the fishing village they live in. When the village is attacked by the Denari empire under the command of the mad sorcerer, the summoner Qira gifts Taiu telekinetic powers to help him defend the village and stop the Denari empire’s advance.  

I love the cultural representation as well as the artwork. As I said, I’m a sucker for good art. And for a good hack and slash.

Wishlist Denari on Steam here.

Wrong Answers Only 

Image: Wrong Answers Only

I’m cheating with this one and yes, I did the same thing last year, but I could not decide which other indie video game to put here, so I decided to put my favourite tabletop indie instead. 

In Wrong Answers Only, players have thirty seconds each to convince the person asking the question that their answer is right, even though it’s wrong. The question asker will pick two people whose answers they liked, and they can choose to share the two points between them or debate a bit longer to earn two points. Wrong Answers Only has two decks, a question deck and an answer deck. These decks are separated into the categories of people, history and places. History questions can only be answered with history answers. If this sounds a little like Cards Against Humanity, it is in that the asker gets to distribute the points. I could be biased though, because the creator is a fellow Melbournian.  

You can buy Wrong Answers Only from its official website.

And those are my ten picks for this year’s PAX. Feel free to discuss these games and any others that you saw or are interested in from the show floor in the comments. And if you want more lists, check out David and Emily’s lists right over here.  

Image: Twilight Foundry Games, 100 Stones Interactive, Prideful Sloth, Kotaku Australia

The Cheapest NBN 1000 Plans

Looking to bump up your internet connection and save a few bucks? Here are the cheapest plans available.

At Kotaku, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *