Day of the Devs turns 10 this year, and if last night’s (November 3) birthday stream proved anything, it’s that this indie-centric showcase has no plans to retire. Take Strange Scaffold’s Sunshine Shuffle, for example – at first it’s a cutesy game set at sea, bobbing along with gentle ska and cutesy Animal Crossing-style animals. But oh, are these cuties all seasoned bank robbers? Did that one just call someone a motherfucker? Wait – is this about gambling out of a mob debt?
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It’s the sort of trend-defying creativity that’s a little too sparse across most big-league game streams, and it caters to a far wider audience. Sunshine Shuffle sounds like it’s made up of five separate games, but it takes up just one announcement at Day of the Devs. We also got a surprise demo for feminist punk rock blowout Dead Pets Unleashed – which blends slice of life with band management and demons – and a trailer for stylish platform-shooter Gunbrella, in which an umbrella is transformed into a…well, I won’t ruin the surprise. On the lighter side of things, charming mountain climber Surmount also debuted – a physics-based game that involves slingshotting your protagonist up a cliff in hilarious, dizzying circles.
Beyond providing a platform for games without Everest-sized marketing budgets, Day of the Devs has always made a conscious effort to welcome gamers of all tastes, which means it gets to curate games that can sometimes be a little niche or out-there, but no less captivating.
Aside from new games, last night’s showcase was a chance to catch up with some bigger-name indie titles that are on the way. Outerloop Games‘ Persona-inspired gem Thirsty Suitors is easily the game I’m most excited for right now, while fans of old-school The Legend of Zelda titles have already thrown over a million pounds at Mina the Hollower‘s Kickstarter.
Even in June, when the last Day of the Devs stream was sandwiched between this year’s Call of Duty reveal and the first look at Starfield in action, it stuck out thanks to a warmth and charm to its curation that other showcases lacked. Months later, I can still tell you about A Little To The Left‘s adorable cat cameo, or the hilarious first trailer for Bear and Breakfast, or Tim Schafer donning a birthday hat, but couldn’t go into quite as much detail for the rest of the week’s streams.
Admittedly, Day of the Devs’ deliberate avoidance of AAA titans comes with its own challenge: it can be tough to keep casual gamers entertained without an anchor, a blockbuster series they’re already familiar with. But if there wasn’t an audience for these games, we might as well have just packed the whole thing in – yet there undeniably is: Disco Elysium, beloved puzzler Unpacking and the chaotic Untitled Goose Game, to name a few, all have their roots in Day of the Devs. On that note, the stream serves a practical purpose by offering a sneak peek at where gaming is going next – it’s no secret that indie developers are often ahead of the curve on industry trends, and your next favourite game could very easily be tucked away in Day of the Devs’ varied lineup.
On a personal note, isn’t it just lovely to watch a stream with zero expectations? As Jake Tucker wrote back in September, major streams lose their magic when we know (or think we know) what to expect from them. I would’ve lost my shit if Persona 5 had been announced for PC without being leaked hours beforehand, or enjoyed the last Nintendo Direct a little bit more if I hadn’t been waiting for every announcement to be a Wind Waker port. With Day of the Devs, I’d have to be a psychic to predict a poker game from Strange Scaffold, or the debut of a two-person studio from Nova Scotia.
There are plenty of reasons for tuning into Day of the Devs, but really, it’s just nice to see the showcase turn 10. With the endless supply of indie games on offer – and the increase in things like Game Pass, which help smaller devs find an audience for their games – it’s easy to see Day of the Devs celebrating another decade further down the line. And if you haven’t tuned in before, why not give it a shot? You might just find your next favourite game.
In other news…
- Sony has announced a February release date for the PSVR2, along with a hefty £529.99 price tag. The company also announced 11 games coming to the platform, but in this economy, is it enough for people to shell out 500 quid on?
- Embracer Group has closed Square Enix Montréal, just two months after purchasing the studio. In a confusing twist, the company had rebranded the studio mere weeks beforehand and had detailed plans for it to work on “multiple products, programs and initiatives.”
- Sarah Schachner, the composer for Modern Warfare 2, has left the project due to an “increasingly challenging” working dynamic with the game’s audio director, and claimed the finished product does not represent her “artistic intent.”