15 Australian games ready to hit 2020 hard

Posted January 5, 2020

Whilst Australia’s AAA development scene may be next to non-existent, there’s a thriving indie scene that is absolutely killing it at the moment. With the likes of Untitled Goose Game, Hollow Knight and a whole bunch of other kick-ass titles coming out of Australia, it’s hard not to be excited by what’s next.

With that in mind we look to 2020 to see what Australian games are being produced by passionate, indie studios. And honestly, it looks like it’s going to be a big year for the Aussie industry.

 

Way to the Woods

Releasing 2020
Developed by Anthony Tan (Melbourne)
Releasing for PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

This gorgeously enchanting game begun its life in 2016 when the then 16-year-old solo Melbournian developer shared images of his game to Reddit. The world then fell in love with Way to the Woods after seeing the beauty and majesty of the third-person adventure game when its trailer debuted at E3 2019. The game sees two deer, one adult and one fawn, survive in a world after the collapse of human society. Developer Anthony Tan has clearly made something special here and we can’t wait to explore it when it releases to PC and consoles sometime in 2020.

Moving Out

Releasing in 2020
Developed by SMG Studios (Melbourne)
Releasing for PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Being playable at both PAX Australia and The Game Festival, we’ve had a lot of opportunities to fall in love with this wacky, cooperative game. Set to release sometime this year, Moving Out has the player(s) scramble desperately to move all of the furniture into a moving van as quickly as possible. Whether they do so using a methodical and organised method, or whether they run around frantically, flinging lamps through windows – either method works. Moving Out looks like the most chaotic and cooperative fun since Overcooked.

The Artful Escape

Releasing in 2020
Developed by Beethoven & Dinosaur (Melbourne)
Releasing for PC, Xbox One, iOS

We saw it at PAX Australia 2016, we saw it at E3 2017, and then we saw it at X019. And every time we see The Artful Escape, it finds a new way to take our breath away. Even back in 2016 the game had a vibrancy and cohesion that was staggering. Now, with its release date finally on the horizon, it’s hard not to burst with excitement. A neon-fuelled, audio / visual journey – The Artful Escape is ready to take its unique perspective and engaging style to the PC, Xbox One, and iOS phones in 2020.

Ring of Pain

Releasing Q2 2020
Developed by Twice Different (Melbourne)
Releasing for PC

It’s no secret that roguelike / card game hybrids are doing fairly well in the indie space in recent years. Although none of them have managed to instil me with the same level of creeping dread as Ring of Pain. It’s a game that embraces its eerie aesthetic and shrouds itself with mystery. It also stays true to the level of strategy needed to make a satisfying card game. But no matter how hard you try to focus on the strategy and the victory, there’s a lingering creepiness lying just under the surface. And to me that’s the most exciting part.

Conan Chop Chop

Releasing February 25, 2020
Developed by Mighty Kingdom (Adelaide)
Releasing for PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

A game that started its life as an April Fools joke but evolved into something so much more. Conan the Barbarian has gone on a lot of adventures throughout the years, now he is gearing up for what the publisher claims is “the most realistic stick figure game ever to feature Conan the Barbarian.” Conan Chop Chop has been a crowd favourite at gaming conventions because of its focus on cooperative and communal gameplay. It’s a hack-and-slash roguelike that can be played with up to 4 people both online and in couch coop. We can’t wait to see you in February, Conan.

Necrobarista

Releasing “Soon”
Developed by Route 59 (Melbourne)
Releasing to PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch

Possibly the most Melbourne game I’ve ever seen. Necrobarista is unashamedly Australian and won’t shy away from Aussie references, slang, and icons. It’s also set in one of the most Melbourne places possible, a cafe. Oh, and there’s also necromancy involved… because why not? The game is a visual novel but it doesn’t necessarily fit the visual novel mold. In fact the developers are more interested in taking inspiration from other mediums rather than relying on tropes of the genre. In doing so, Necrobarista is actually pushing visual novels forward and it’s very exciting to see.

Dead Static Drive

Releasing in 2020
Developed by Fanclub (Melbourne)
Releasing for PC, Xbox One

Dead Static Drive is a hyper stylised, survival adventure game about you, your muscle car, the open road, and the hostile world ready to end it all. It’s a visually stunning game that oozes with personality and evocative imagery. It’s also a game that deals with eldritch beings bringing a cosmic horror to the desolated world around you. Developer Mike Blackney has referred to the game as “Grand Theft Cthulhu”. And if that doesn’t spark your interest I have no idea what will. The game is part horror, part survival, part adventure. You’ll need to loot and steal to survive or put your trust in others. It’s a lawless and grim depiction of post societal America and something I can’t wait to experience first hand.

Beyond The Veil

Releasing in 2020
Developed by Sun’s Shadow Studios (Melbourne)
Releasing to PC, iOS

The horror game genre has been doing some amazing things throughout the last few years, and Beyond The Veil looks to continue that trend. It’s a text-based game with a strong focus on player-choice, character-driven storytelling and the rich and horrific history of New Orleans. Tie that together with the talented voice work of Erika Ishii and you have something pretty exciting. Beyond The Veil looks to tackle the “illusion of choice” problem other games have faced and it’s doing so boldly. When we talked to Brian Holland from the Sun’s Shadow Studios team back in early 2019, they had made 18 different endings for the game with 3 entirely different horror stories that can be experienced. I can’t wait to see what it has become now.

Kana Quest

Releasing Q1 2020
Developed by Not Dead Design (Melbourne)
Releasing to PC & Mobile

Whilst Kana Quest may initially seem like a simple mobile game, the idea behind its philosophy is far from uninspired. Yes, the gameplay essentially boils down to a mix of dominoes and a match-three, but it’s this simple design that is the fundamental genius behind the game’s true purpose. That’s because Kana Quest, whilst masquerading as a simple and addictive game, manages to seamlessly and painlessly teach the player vital elements of the Japanese language. It’s also unbearably cute, and a super easy pick up and play title that will turn your downtime into something fun and educational.

Speaking Simulator

Releasing Early 2020
Developed by Affable Games (Brisbane)
Releasing to PC

Speaking Simulator is certainly the strangest game on this list, yet I assume developer Affable Games would take that as a big compliment. It’s a game where you play as a robot, trying to blend in with human society. It will draw comparisons to games like Octodad or even QWOP as you awkwardly control your robot’s speech by moving the jaw and tongue independently. It’s a game that isn’t afraid to be silly and finds a way to be genuinely hilarious. The lunacy of the game’s premise, narrative and control scheme brings a strange harmony that work perfectly alongside one another. It’s a game you need to see… or hear… to be believed. 

Unpacking

Releasing Late 2020
Developed by Witch Beam (Brisbane)
Releasing to PC

One of the most zen experiences I’ve ever had with gaming came from a little title called Unpacking. It’s not a game about rules, limitations, puzzles or reflexes. Unpacking is a game about self-expression and wordless serenity. It tackles a subject matter a lot of us will have experienced at one point or another. You have a new place and it’s time to unpack your stuff and decide where it goes within your new abode. It takes this simple concept and beautifully presents it, allowing players to zone out and peacefully make their choices and express their desires without constraints. It may not be a game for everybody, but for many others, this stress-reliever could be the most exciting release of 2020.

Wayward Strand

Releasing in 2020
Developed by Ghost Pattern (Melbourne)
Releasing to PC

Wayward Strand is a uniquely touching narrative game that lets you play at your own pace. It’s a game set aboard an airborne hospital in 1970’s Australia and lets the player character roam at their own will, talk to the inhabitants, maybe do a bit of snooping, and slowly learn about the people and ship you’re upon. It’s a game about curiosity and simplistic yet deep storytelling. It’s a game where the world and characters within feel alive and don’t wait around for the player. We can’t wait to see more when it releases this year.

Sports Story

Releasing Mid 2020
Developed by Sidebar Games (Brisbane)
Releasing to Nintendo Switch

When Golf Story launched back in 2017, it surprised many gamers with its RPG approach to a sport title. In fact, it became one of the most interesting sports games around, if you can even call it that. Now, Golf Story is being expanded with its sequel, Sports Story, ready to launch in 2020. The sports are becoming more diverse and the mash-ups are becoming more ridiculous. Get ready to solve all kinds of strange problems with your sporting prowess whilst you explore a gorgeous 2D world.

Warhammer Underworlds: Online

Releasing into Early Access January 29, 2020
Developed by Steel Sky Productions (Melbourne)
Releasing to PC

Sometimes a tried and tested formula doesn’t need to be messed with. Steel Sky Productions understands this and is implementing it with their upcoming strategy game, Warhammer Underworlds: Online. Warhammer has a long and bumpy history in the video game world. There are plenty of Warhammer games out there, but not that many fantastic ones. In staying faithfully true to its tabletop heritage, Warhammer Underworlds: Online manages to stand out from the crowd and deliver an experience many Warhammer fans have been demanding for a long time by bringing the tabletop experience into an online game. We finally get to see that implementation when it launches into Early Access on January 29. 

Metal Heads

Releasing Mid to Late 2020
Developed by Nathan Francis (Coffs Harbour)
Releasing to PC

Easily one of the most enjoyable local coop experiences I’ve had at PAX Australia was with Metal Heads last year. The game pairs frantic, competitive gameplay with banging metal tunes and apparently it’s a winning formula. Metal Heads focuses entirely on minigames, pitting 8 players against one another in both local or online play. With around 30 minigames planned for launch, there’s a huge amount of diversity to what you can see and play but they all share a common identity. The minigames are always frantic, competitive, silly and fun. They are the kind of games you pick up quickly and, quite honestly, they put Mario Party minigames to shame. We can’t wait to see what’s in store when this game releases in 2020.

Honorable mentions:

Whilst the above 15 games should certainly be enough to prove what a big year the Aussie indie game scene is about to have, there’s a couple of other games that deserve a mention too. Pico Tanks is one game that, whilst already released in Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines, will be getting its global release this year. Journey to the Savage Planet is another exciting release coming this January! Whilst the game looks amazing, it’s technically not an Aussie studio, although the studio’s creative director and co-founder, Alex Hutchinson, is a born and bred Aussie.

Whilst this list is for 2020 releases only, it’s also worth mentioning there’s a couple of incredibly exciting game releases that don’t yet have a release window or are releasing beyond 2020. Hollow Knight: Silk Song is certainly the biggest one and we can’t wait to see more of this game. Another game absolutely worthy of an honourable mention is Heavenly Bodies. Releasing in 2021, this cooperative physics game is an absolute bundle of laughs and joy.

What Aussie game are you most excited for in 2020 or beyond?



About the Author

Elliot Attard

PC gamer, TV show binge-watcher, music lover and elite member of high society (but not really) - Elliot possesses all of the qualities needed to project his word thoughts straight into your eye holes.