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Ten of Our Most-Anticipated Games to Check Out at SXSW Sydney's Gaming Festival

With over 150 games to check out at SXSW Sydney, we're taking out the stress of choosing with 10 recommendations.
By Jonathon Valenzuela
October 12, 2023
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By Jonathon Valenzuela
October 12, 2023
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With a program packed full of great events, there's a bunch of ways to fill your days at the SXSW Sydney Gaming Festival. Of course, you could also blow off any attempt at constructing a schedule and spend the whole time playing demos of the 150+ indie games featured in the Games Showcase.

With that many titles on offer you're sure to find some that speak to the unique gamer within you, but if you'd like a steer on what to see and play we've gathered ten red hot picks from developers both Australian and international.

A collage of game art from our list of recommendations

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WINNIE'S HOLE

Since tumbling into the public domain, the beloved Winnie the Pooh has been showing up in some odd, often horrific places (notably this childhood-ending horror movie). Winnie's Hole, developed by Melbourne studio Twice Different, is buying into this trend with a rogue-lite puzzle game that sees you controlling a virus infecting the bear.

As you conquer more cells you begin to twist your huggable host's body in grotesque ways, choosing mutations that allow you to fight off enemies and spread to more inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood. It's a compelling blend of disgusting and delightful.

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JANET DEMORNAY IS A SLUMLORD (AND A WITCH)

If you're reading this and you live in Sydney, chances are you've lived in rental properties before (and maybe still do *shakes fist at real estate market*). If so, Janet DeMornay Is A Slumlord (And A Witch) will probably hit home for you.

This first-person horror comedy from Sydney-based studio Fuzzy Ghost has you moving into a fairly dilapidated terrace house and joining a crew of LGBTQIA+ roommates. Problem is, the house has been transported to another dimension and your interactions with the landlord – who, as the title suggests, is a witch – are becoming increasingly threatening. Featuring real-life rental horror stories, it's set to be a funny and frightening look at what it takes to have a home these days.

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THE DUNGEON EXPERIENCE

Jacob Janerka might just be the funniest game developer in Australia. In his new project, The Dungeon Experience, you're a visitor to a fantasy-themed experience established by a level 1 mud crab who's packed in being an enemy for a life of entrepreneurship. It's a first-person adventure game that will send you on a quest filled with memorable characters and hilarious dialogue, all the while turning the tropes of the fantasy genre firmly on their head.

This is one game you won't want to miss.

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ANOTHER CRAB'S TREASURE

If you're into Souls-likes (that's brutally difficult third-person roleplaying games inspired by the Dark Souls series, in case you aren't familiar) but wish they weren't so uniformly dreary, Another Crab's Treasure is the game for you.

Developed by the appropriately named Aggro Crab out of Seattle in the US, this underwater adventure features the fiendish combat you know and love in a bright, cartoony aquatic setting. As Kril the hermit crab you'll use a variety of trash from the ocean floor as both shell and weapons during your mission to buy back your repossessed original shell.

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WAY TO THE WOODS

Way To The Woods is the project of Melbourne-based solo developer Anthony Tan who started working on the game while in his teens. It's been a long road – as it often is with game development – so to get a chance to see it in action at SXSW Sydney is a genuinely exciting opportunity.

The game puts you in the cloven hooves of a deer who must guide its fawn through a ruined world to get back to their natural environment. With a beautiful, serene art style and a high chance of touching narrative moments, this title is shaping up to be something special.

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WOOD & WEATHER

If you're looking to recapture the raw, unbridled power you felt while playing imaginary games with toys as a child, Paper House out of Melbourne have you covered. In their new game Wood & Weather, you'll assume god-like control over a city made of wooden blocks, populated by inhabitants that have pleasingly similar aesthetics to old Playmobil sets.

As a benevolent deity, you'll tinker with the weather as well as interacting with objects while taking the form of a giant blue hand, all to help the townsfolk solve problems. It's a whimsical, wonderful experience.

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DARKWEBSTREAMER

With the astronomical rise of Twitch and TikTok, streamers have become the new celebrities. But how far is too far when pursuing fame this way? That's the question darkwebSTREAMER by Adelaide's We Have Always Lived In The Forest poses, as you try your hand at being a fledgling streamer looking to rise to the top of an internet culture where the more extreme and dangerous your content, the more famous you'll become.

With an eerie 1-bit art style and use of procedural generation meaning no two sessions are the same, this has the makings of a horror game masterpiece.

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DEAD STATIC DRIVE

The open road. The wind in your hair. The purr of the engine. The eldritch screeching of the monsters chasing you. Dead Static Drive by Melbourne's Reuben Games puts you in the driver's seat on a road trip through 80s-inspired, fading small town America. A journey to visit family turns into a fight for survival as the end of the world arrives, bringing monsters with it. You'll need to scavenge, sneak and slay to reach the final destination in this top-down horror driving game.

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THE DRIFTER

The point-and-click adventure renaissance continues with The Drifter, developed by Powerhoof out of Melbourne.

Assume the role of Mick Carter, an itinerant who's experiencing the worst day of his life. From witnessing a murder, to returning to life after his own murder, he's got to unravel deepening mystery while trying to keep his wits about him. It's a pulpy thriller that harks back to the guts and gore of 70s Ozploitation flicks, with a focus on fast-paced storytelling rather than finicky puzzles.

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KNUCKLE SANDWICH

Starting over in a new city can be hard, particularly when it's Bright City — the setting for Knuckle Sandwich by Melbourne's Andy Brophy. This fictional Australian metropolis has a missing persons problem, and you get tangled up in it as you take on an amusingly over-the-top gang and a cult.

It's an RPG of classic lineage, with a vast array of characters to interact with, a plethora of locations to explore, and turn-based combat that utilises over 100 different mini-games. This one has been on the horizon for a while, and with a recently announced release date SXSW Sydney is a great way to try before you buy.

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The SXSW Sydney Games Showcase is taking place across Eddy Multi Space, Mercure Sydney and Fortress Sydney from October 18-22. To see session times, and the full list of showcase title, check the SXSW Sydney Gaming Festival website for details. For more inspiration head to our full guide to the best of SXSW Sydney.

Published on October 12, 2023 by Jonathon Valenzuela
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