Highlights from Day of the Devs 2024

Day of the Devs: Summer Game Fest Edition Highlights

Depending on who you talk to, you’ll hear that the video game industry is in some degree of serious trouble. Studios get closed without warning, there are hundreds of layoffs and big projects are failing right and left. On the other hand, passion and creativity are still in abundance. As always, the indie and small studio scene continues to produce innovative, imaginative games. I had the chance to preview this year’s Summer Game Fest Day of the Devs presentation. I saw over 20 upcoming titles, and while I can’t preview them all, here are a handful that really stood out. That said, every game was interesting and deserving of attention.

Zoochosis (developer: Clapperheads)

The vast majority of games at Day of the Devs were characterized by stylized art, but Zoochosis stood out for its interesting premise and rich, detailed, and gruesome graphics. Zoochosis is like a marriage between a first-person horror game and a zoo management sim. In Zoochosis, you’re trying to find the cure for some sort of infection that is mutating the zoo animals into varying degrees of monstrous. There are also some basic sim tasks like feeding the animals and supervising breeding programs.

Building Relationships (developer: Tanat Boozayaangool)

The developer describes Building Relationships as “a weird, yet charming game. It’s hilarious at moments, while oddly contemplative at others. It’s daring, it’s queer, but also very stupid.” Born out of a 4-hour game jam, Building Relationships is sort of a chill dating and exploration sim, but with houses. You play as a house looking for love, exploring an island, and developing friendship and love connections with other structures like apartment buildings. Building Relationships stood out as one of the quirkier games at the show.

Koira (developer: Studio Tolima)

If, like me, you’re a sucker for games about animals (see Zoochosis above), you’ll want to check out Koira. In Koira, the player will “traverse a musical forest, solve ancient puzzles, meet woodland creatures, and try to find your way home.” It’s a 2D action-adventure game about rescuing a lost puppy in a magical, dangerous forest. With appealing, stylized art and an enchanting musical score, Koira is not entirely without some tension, as kidnappers and other forest dangers threaten the puppy. There is no dialogue, relying entirely on visuals, music, and gameplay to tell the story.

While Waiting (developer: Optiullsion Games)

We all spend a lot of time waiting for things to happen. You know, like standing in line at the DMV or picking up luggage at baggage claim. While Waiting asks the question, “What if you could turn that boring time into bits of imaginative play?” Told through attractive line art, While Waiting focuses on a single character through several stages of life like childhood, adolescence, and midlife. It places the character in over 100 situations where they have to wait and then asks them to fill their time creatively. It’s a bit like a puzzle game but without the fail state. I think While Waiting probably reminds us that every moment is an opportunity for discovery.

After Love (developer: Pikselnesia)

After Love is a mixture of narrative adventure, dating sim, and rhythm games with a richly emotional story and an attractive anime-influenced art style. Indonesian developer Pikselnesia describes how the player “players will take control of Rama, a young musician who has recently lost his girlfriend Cinta to illness. But Rama is having trouble moving on. That’s because he’s been hearing Cinta’s voice in his head, every day since she passed away, narrating his every waking moment.” With music by the Indonesian band L’alphalpha and set in modern-day Jakarta, After Love looks intriguing.