Five of the Best Australian Video Games That You Should Play Right Now
From mischievous geese to intergalactic rock stars, here's five standout homegrown video games to have a crack at.
September 21, 2023
If you're looking for another reason to be proud of this wide, brown land that we call Australia, have you considered becoming a huge fan of our indie games scene? Like our musicians who grace festival stages overseas, and movies that go gangbusters at foreign box offices, Aussie-made indies regularly take the internet by storm and garner awards around the world.
With increased development funding from state and federal governments, the future is looking bright for Australian games. But there are already a bunch of bangers you can download and play today — like the five below.
Who would've thought that one of the most arduous personal tasks that you can undertake would turn out to be such great fodder for a game?
Developed by Brisbane-based studio Witch Beam, Unpacking puts you in the shoes of a woman as she opens unmarked boxes and distributes her belongings throughout the various spaces that she moves into over the course of her life, starting with her childhood bedroom and carrying through university dorms, sharehouses and more. It's immensely satisfying gameplay, with enough of a puzzle element to add rewarding "aha!" moments throughout.
Despite having no dialogue and very little text, Unpacking is rich with a narrative borne through details, from the items that stay with its character over the course of her life to the limitations you encounter when trying to fit yourself into certain living situations. And, without giving too much away, there is a twist at the end of moving into your boyfriend's apartment that will send your emotions skyrocketing.
UNTITLED GOOSE GAME
There's no more succinct way to sum up Untitled Goose Game than the opening line of the description written by Melbourne-based developers House House: "it is a lovely morning in the village, and you are a horrible goose".
As you might have guessed, this game sees you controlling a feathered menace whose sole purpose is to sow gentle chaos throughout a quintessential small English town. Each area has a checklist of broad objectives — from stealing a farmer's keys to trapping a small boy in a phone booth — and it's up to you to figure out how they can be achieved by honking, flapping, waddling around and generally being a mischievous little shit.
With graphics that could've come straight from a children's book and a soundtrack based on Debussy's Preludes that reacts to what you do in the game, it's an experience both refined and hilarious — and, thanks to a multiplayer update, you and a friend can live out your avian scamp dreams together.
Metroidvania is a genre with almost four decades of history behind it — the name springs from Metroid and Castlevania, which both debuted in the 80s — so for a modern iteration to be considered a masterpiece, it has to come correct. Hollow Knight, developed by Adelaide's Team Cherry, satisfies that requirement.
Set in an underground insect kingdom decimated by a supernatural plague, you play as the Knight, a little sword-wielding bug who must descend into the gloomy ruins to discover what happened, as well as the part you play in what comes next. With tight, frenetic combat, brutal boss battles, compelling exploration, a stirring soundtrack and gorgeous, moody visuals, it's a game that will command your attention for a long time.
Sequel Silksong is tantalisingly just over the horizon, so there's never been a better time to start your descent into Hallownest.
THE FROG DETECTIVE TRILOGY
The intersection of the Venn diagram of 'crime' and 'wholesome' is razor slim, but sitting dead in the centre is the Frog Detective trilogy, developed by Worm Club out of Melbourne.
As the name suggests, you're Frog Detective — the second-best detective around, in fact — and, over the course of three cases, you tackle a potential ghost, an invisible wizard and a hat thief, conducting your investigations in first person with the help of your trust magnifying glass and notebook.
The blocky, bright polygonal art is both retro and adorable, and your interactions with the various characters that inhabit each game are relentlessly charming. It's not the most taxing game in terms of puzzles — you'll mostly be finding objects and giving them to the right person — but that makes the Frog Detective series the perfect entry-level games to enjoy with kids. Of course, if you're an adult that loves cute and funny experiences, it's perfect for you too.
Available on: PC/Mac.
THE ARTFUL ESCAPE
We've all had dreams of becoming a rock star. In The Artful Escape by Melbourne's Beethoven & Dinosaur, you can live out this fantasy on a cosmic scale.
The game sees you controlling Francis Vendetti, the teenage nephew of a deceased folk music legend who is about to make his debut performing his uncle's songs. The only problem: he doesn't want to simply strum, he wants to wail. A chance encounter sends him out into the universe to overcome his doubts and find his true artistic self, the details of which are in your hands.
It features a star-studded voice cast (Rocky's Carl Weathers, Wes Anderson favourite Jason Schwartzman, Kingsman's Mark Strong and Game of Thrones' Lena Headey all lend their talents), plus a story that balances heartfelt and hilarious deftly. On the gameplay front, it tends towards simplicity, with basic platforming and Simon Says-esque button prompts forming the bulk of the experience; however, it more than makes up for this with a eye-wateringly psychedelic visual spectacle and a button dedicated to searing guitar solos.
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