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Indie spotlight: South African edition

volantia,indie spotlight

While the South African gaming development sphere may not be as active as some other countries, we have a rich variety on offer from local devs that rival even the best indie titles.

There’s no shortage of variation either, as development studios sink their teeth into multiple genres – and sometimes even create their own.

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So what exactly are some of the titles SA devs are responsible for? Here are four recent and upcoming South African games which we have tried out….


Released at the end of 2017 as a Humble Original and set for a full release in 2018, Volantia is a kingdom management game that is packed with charm.

The aim of the game is to piece together fragments of a kingdom that has been destroyed. It has the best of both worlds: the strategy and optimisation goals of management simulators and a cute, gorgeous art style that is extremely appealing.

Created by a small Cape Town studio called Tangled Mess Games, Volantia proves to be a refreshing and unique take on the flooded genre that is city building games. It is also surprisingly addictive.

Every 20 minutes or so, you’re faced with a potential cataclysmic event which can only be prevented by connecting certain islands and buildings to your kingdom. This sense of urgency adds a great incentive for getting your kingdom up and running as efficiently and smoothly as possible.


We’ve all seen platformers and side-scrolling indies, but Semblance by Nyamakop has an interesting take on the gameplay style of the genre — everything in the game’s world is made of playdough. This means that your environment is malleable and you must transform certain elements in order to advance through the stages.

You are tasked with using your character, aptly named Squish, to collect essences to save this delightfully soft world. The game is thoroughly enjoyable. Despite its minimalist graphics, it also manages to be beautiful. Meanwhile, being able to mould your world also adds a wonderful uniqueness to the platform game.

What started off as a university project has transformed into a fully-fledged game – set for release in the first half of 2018.

Tyd Wag Vir Niemand

Tyd Wag Vir Niemand is one of the most unusual entries on this list – and not because its name is in Afrikaans. The game, released in July 2017, is a challenging and markedly unique puzzle indie. Created by Skobbejak Games, Tyd Wag Vir Niemand requires your character to navigate obstacles in an incredibly unusual world, distorted by dimensional and time rifts.

You can slow down time to help your character move over obstacles which defy the laws of physics and sense. Despite the simplicity in certain aspects of the first-person game (such as movement controls), it is filled with gorgeous, albeit abstract, environments to explore.

There is a possibility of VR functionality being added to the game in the future, which would be sure to add an even more surreal feel to the already unusual game.

If you want games to be easy and straightforward, this isn’t the game for you. It can get frustrating due to movement controls not being as smooth as one would hope. However if you enjoy perplexity and a unique take on puzzles, be sure to try it out.

The developers also currently have a demo available on Steam for curious players.

Vicious Attack Llama Apocalypse (VALA)

Okay, so we said Tyd Wag Vir Niemand was the most unusual game on this list, but VALA‘s premise is also pretty out there.

The top-down action game sees you pilot a mech to try survive and exterminate an onslaught of llama hordes. The game has been hyped for some time, as developer RogueCode has made sure to showcase the work-in-progress at local gaming events. But its full release is almost here.

The game revels in its silly humour and the action-packed gameplay (filled with gore and impressive explosions) adds to the fun of the title.

While you can play it alone, it’s most fun as a local co-op title –- with the game supporting up to four players at the same time. But even if you’re playing a solo mission, the entertaining nature of picking up new weapons and wreaking havoc will keep you hooked.

The launch date for the game is set for 26 February 2018. You can get your hands on it via Steam.

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