Fans of indie games braved the heat for the final summer event of Tokyo Indies in 2023. Located at the usual haunt of Akihabara’s MOGRA, this particular showcase saw a truly wide variety of independent video games of different genres. From jazzy adventure games to a dystopian open world and even a game about launching burgers into space, there was truly something for everyone.
Music-Themed Games by Ferran Bertomeu Castells
The first speaker for the night was Ferran Bertomeu Castells, a Spanish game developer currently residing in Taipei. His commercial work included a number of Apple Arcade titles such as Disney Spellstruck and Punch Planet, but his core presentation for the day was to share a variety of games he had worked on with the theme of music. From his portfolio, we saw Pianobots, a musical puzzle game about out of tune robots that must cooperate to appease an audience. We also witnessed Jamsterdam, a singing survival simulator set in Amsterdam about aspiring to be a jazz musician and paying your bills via donations made through busking.
Ferran’s biggest work right now is the Off-Score Project, in collaboration with artist Vanja Mrgan and musician, YenTing Lo. Off-Score Project is an interactive music album that features five songs as the foundation for stories that are then told through five games. Currently, two of the five songs are available, Copy Machine and Elephant Remembers. The former is a story about a piece of paper striving to survive in a society within a copy machine. The latter tells the tale of a lost elephant hunter, haunted by the actions of his past. But how does one play Off-Score Project? Through listening to the lyrics of the songs, players will be guided through the tasks at hand. The third song, Relativity is a work in progress and features gameplay mechanics around playing, pausing and rewinding a music video to reveal a secret.
A challenge with pitching Off-Score Project, Ferran says, is that each game is relatively short. Copy Machine and Elephant Remembers are about 10 minutes each with limited replayability as once the story is told, it’s over. Ferran estimates that Relativity will be a bit longer, clocking in at around 20 minutes. Currently, the Off-Score Project team is looking for a publishing partner with an audience curious about puzzles, music and experimental games.
Sunset Moon by RunicCodes
What would Harvest Moon be like if the warm, fuzzy feelings were replaced with mystery and dystopian themes? That’s the premise of Sunset Moon, a mini open world game that’s being developed by RunicCodes.
Inspired by Swedish and Japanese culture, Sunset Moon begins with players arriving on the island having been tasked to look after your sick grandfather and his farm. But all is not as it seems and the protagonist soon realizes that conspiracy theories abound in this island town, including one about your missing grandmother.
Sunset Moon does take plenty of cues from Harvest Moon, including gameplay mechanics such as farming, resource gathering and befriending locals. The game also gets its dark inspiration from Netflix series Black Mirror as the developer promises twists, unpredictable storytelling and plot curveballs at every turn. Part of this takes the form of a social class system; your character’s hierarchy will determine where you live, what kind of crops you can grow and how the townsfolk choose to interact with you.
A release date for Sunset Moon has yet to be announced. For the time being, gamers interested in falling into this eerie yet intriguing world can follow RunicCodes on Twitter or keep up to date on the Sunset Moon steam page for developer logs.
Burger Impact: Solar Strike by Neo Future Labs
The idea of blasting burgers into space is probably not something many of us have thought of but Burger Impact: Solar Strike is here to put that crazy notion into our hands. Developed by Neo Future Labs, this is a surreal high-speed physics-based 3D game about launching objects to destroy stars, enemies and other obstacles. Touted as having a “space-billiards real time combat system”, the game promises thrilling and adrenaline inducing action while still maintaining simple controls for anyone to play.
Players take on the role of Burger, a space-faring er, food, on an adventure to rescue French Fries. In Orbit Mode, players will be able to gravitate to and freely orbit any valid object within range, which allows you to employ more techniques such as hiding behind objects and sticking to enemies. Under Aiming Simulation, players can simulate a shot and forecast where Burger may ricochet and cause chain reactions. There is also a Gravity System which, depending on the object, can attract, repel or spin Burger into nearby objects. Other food-based characters are also featured including Potato from Potato Empire and Ketchup. The game even comes with a “Vegan” game mode where no animal products or by-products will be featured in the game.
Burger Impact is currently in Early Access on Steam. The game will also be present at Tokyo Game Show later this year. Neo Future Labs plans on rebuilding all of the stages specifically for the event, and hopes many will come by to try out the new version of Burger Impact.
About Tokyo Indies
Date: Every 3rd Wednesday of the month
Time: 19:00 – 23:00
Price: 1,500 yen (includes 1 drink)
Address: Akihabara MOGRA Akihabara, Taito Ward, Tokyo 3-11 Matsubishi Building