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Opinions 19 June 2024, 02:34

author: Matt Buckley

Day of the Devs at SGF: Find Love, Solve a Mystery, Or Just Wait

Day of the Devs is a nonprofit company that helps promote independent games through online and in-person showcases. This year at Summer Game Fest, they had five strange and wonderful titles to show off.

Summer Game Fest’s Play Days, the weekend after the live showcase, was a whirlwind of presentations, previews, demos, and talks with developers. Most of my time was spent with back-to-back appointments so that I could fit everything in. Day of the Devs took that to the next level. Over one hour, I tried five different games. They were all fantastic, ultimately I just wish I could have had more time with them. Thankfully, several of them have demos available on Steam at the time of writing this, which you can take your time with.

In no particular order, here are my impressions on five glorious indie games that are worth putting on your Steam wishlist. Seriously, that helps a lot and sends you a notification when there are updates like when the game releases or when it announces a release date.

UFO 50

From Mossmouth, a studio headed by Derek Yu the creator of the indie smash hit Spelunky, comes fifty more indie games. This is technically true and made my ten-minute opportunity to try the game all the more challenging. UFO 50 is a collection of fifty retro games that covers all kinds of genres. From challenging-to-understand dinosaur tactical game, a golf platformer, and a combo puzzle game, just to name a few that I was able to test out.

UFO 50, Mossmouth, 2024


Thankfully, I had Yu and his co-developer there to lend me a hand in choosing what to go for. Trying out games somewhat at random was fun, but since my demo, I have learned a little more about what’s behind the games. UFO 50 might seem like a simple collection on the surface, but there is more to the story. Each of these fifty games has been created by a fictional in-game developer called UFO Soft. When choosing a game from the menu, the fifty games are displayed in the fictional chronological order that UFO Soft released them. 

UFO 50 does not have a free demo available to the public currently, but I hope that I get the chance to try this game again sometime soon. To say my ten minutes barely scratched the surface is an understatement. I plan to start from number one and work my way forward, to play the games “chronologically,” and see what story, if any, there is to discover. UFO 50 launches on September 18th on Steam.

UFO 50, Mossmouth, 2024


Building Relationships

If you watched the Day of the Devs livestream after Summer Game Fest, you may remember one of the strangest games in the showcase: Building Relationships. On the surface, it might sound like some kind of dating simulator, and that’s not wrong, but you would be missing the major distinguishing factor. In Building Relationships the player is a house looking for love with other structures, or a building looking for a relationship.

The developer, Tanat Boozayaangool of Tan Ant Games, described it best during the Day of the Devs livestream, calling it “like A Short Hike, but stupid!” I was fortunate enough to be able to talk to him about this while playing the demo and he said that normally during a presentation like Day of the Devs, they don’t like it when developers compare their game to another, but he was happy that they let that one slide.

Building Relationships, Tan Ant Games, 2024


Building Relationships, just like its developer, is fully aware of how ridiculous it is. Just moving around the island is more like tumbling than anything else. Awkward angles and hills can hinder progress. I tried flirting with a windmill on the beach but then got distracted when I learned there was a fishing mini-game. But there are no fish, instead, players reel in cars. I highly recommend you try this strange game, and thankfully you can. Building Relationships does not have a release date yet, but it does have a free demo available now on Steam.

Phoenix Springs

Of these five games, Phoenix Springs from developer Calligram Studio, remains the most mysterious. That might be partly because it involves a mystery, but also because it was the only game in which I didn’t get a chance to talk to any of the creators. Although somehow it felt appropriate to be thrown into Phoenix Springs with no preamble.

This modern point-and-click narrative is set in a world with a dramatic graphic art style. Bright greens and yellows clash with static whites and blacks. Lines are not always clear and shadows can easily distort part of the screen, but it all seems intentional. In the demo, the protagonist is searching for her lost brother. She searches her apartment for clues responding to player decisions with noir-style narration.

Phoenix Springs, Calligram Studio, 2024


Phoenix Springs is a strange and fascinating game. I felt that I had just begun to make progress when I had to move on to the next game, but I know that there is a lot more to uncover in this story. There is no demo for this one, but thankfully, I won’t have to wait too long to get another look at this captivating story because Phoenix Springs is set to launch on September 16th.

Afterlove EP

When asked if I wanted to play through the opening of Afterlove EP or skip past it, I chose to get the full experience. Little did I know that this game’s tragic beginning would have me holding back tears in the middle of the Play Days campus. Afterlove EP, from Indonesian developer Pikselnesia, tells the story of Rama, a young musician growing up in the city of Jakarta, who is struggling to move on with life after the death of his girlfriend, Cinta. The opening scenes detail their final day together.

Afterlove EP brings rhythm game elements to a narrative adventure, and while I did spend a solid portion of my time with the demo keeping myself together, I was still able to explore some of the game once the opening concluded. Rama struggles through his guilt and grief while balancing friendships, keeping the band together, and finding the motivation to finish the EP he’s been working on. Supposedly there will also be elements of a dating sim, but I did not make it that far in the demo.

Afterlove EP, Fellow Traveller, 2024


Fortunately, I might have another chance because Afterlove EP does have a free demo on Steam at the time of writing this. I’ll just have to get through those opening scenes again. Afterlove EP is planned to launch sometime in 2024, but there is no release date yet. It will be available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 & 5, Xbox Series X & S, and PC via Steam.

While Waiting

From developer Optillusion (Moncage), comes While Waiting, a strange comedy puzzle game all about passing time. Seriously, the easiest way to complete the game is to do nothing. Continue through the protagonist’s life from childhood to adulthood and be patient (or impatient) in various scenarios. There are always things to occupy your time, but the ultimate goal is just to wait.

Wait in line to get on an amusement park ride. Wait in the backseat of the car through traffic. Wait for the bathroom to be available. After playing through a few levels like this, finding various tasks to occupy the time, the developers stopped by to talk. While we laughed about the ridiculousness of certain parts of the game, I actually missed the elevator I was waiting for, which only had us laughing more.

While Waiting, Optillusion, 2024


While Waiting does have tasks to complete. Each level of waiting has a list of hints, and when a task is complete a sticker is added to the list. But most levels only allow a certain amount of time before the waiting is over. There are no penalties for missing a task, just the desire to return and figure out the puzzle next time. You can try this uniquely funny game through the free demo now available on Steam, but there is currently no release date other than sometime next year.


Thank you to Day of the Devs and each of the developers of these five fascinating indie games for letting me try a demo and for taking the time to talk to me about their games. If any of them look interesting to you, I highly recommend putting them on your Steam wishlist, it really helps out small developers like these. Also, while you’re there, three out of these five games have free demos available on Steam too. Having experienced them firsthand, they are a great way to spend some time, even if all you have is ten minutes.

Matt Buckley

Matt Buckley

After studying creative writing at Emerson College in Boston, Matt published a travel blog based on a two-month solo journey around the world, wrote for SmarterTravel, and worked on an Antarctic documentary series for NOVA, Antarctic Extremes. Today, for Gamepressure, Matt covers Nintendo news and writes reviews for Switch and PC titles. Matt enjoys RPGs like Pokemon and Breath of the Wild, as well as fighting games like Super Smash Bros., and the occasional action game like Ghostwire Tokyo or Gods Will Fall. Outside of video games, Matt is also a huge Dungeons & Dragons nerd, a fan of board games like Wingspan, an avid hiker, and after recently moving to California, an amateur surfer.


UFO 50

UFO 50

Phoenix Springs

Phoenix Springs

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