The gaming subculture thrives among the escapist, tech-savvy youth – yet the local dev scene is fraught with funding constraints and a relatively small market. 

A new wave of Pinoy indie creators deliver surprise hits this year to redefine what it means to develop video games in the Philippines, and challenge the status quo to pave the way for Filipino voices. 

Jeepney Simulator 

Spacezero Interactive, led by a persevering duo of zoomers – Joshua Bicoy and Alvin Arapoc,  launches Jeepney Simulator, a game that perfectly emulates the nostalgic chaos that ensues in the clockwork routines of a Manileño commuter. The game teleports players into the busy streets of Manila as a jeepney operator with the hectic task of managing stubborn passengers. The game cruises through random unloading zones where they must inevitably nosedive into city traffic, alongside a Filipino playlist blasting from muffled – or as locals would call it ‘sabog’, jeepney acoustics. 

Trade Tales

Trade Tales envelops its players in the cozy confines of a snug cottage where they run errands at a leisurely pace within a farm. In this locally-crafted utopian game that takes after the beloved classics Stardew Valley and Harvest Moon, the player goes through a series of entrepreneurial side quests where they must manage a shop, design packages, adopt pets, all while reveling in its problem-free atmosphere. 

Ligaw

There lies an impending doom at the heart of Ligaw. The newly-launched horror game tasks players with delivering packages to remote areas where darkness lies in wait. The first-person perspective game immerses the player in its chilling environment with a lifelike design realistic enough to tip you over the edge. Developed by Raven Studios, these student developers aim to highlight the reality of a livelihood that is not easy to get by. 

Until Then 

Until Then is a slice of life game infused with supernatural elements where the character, Mark, in a struggle to find beauty in his humdrum, and otherwise mundane existence, finds himself unexpectedly drawn to a transfer student. This heartfelt game takes its players through the ebbs and flows of adolescence as they navigate through the uncertainties that come with it.

Soup Pot 

Soup Pot is a culinary game where the player is allowed a free-hand at cooking for the sheer enjoyment of it. Free of rules, the game immerses its player in a warm and atmospheric kitchen where Asian cuisines take center stage, and interact with realistic, 3-D renderings of mouth watering ingredients.

Still, this budding resurgence in the game world may evolve at a slow yet measured pace, with a steep learning curve yet to be conquered. But, the rise of homegrown games signals a promising future for local indie creators; opening doors of opportunity that’ll be hard to miss.

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