A Cat's Manor by Happiest Dark Corner
The winner of the Big Indie Pitch that took place in Amman last month was a team from Saudi Arabia. Happiest Dark Corner is based in Dhahran and its entry was a surreal adventure about a cat with a hand on the end of its tail. The judges described it as "innovative and creative" but also "genuinely terrifying" – which they meant as a good thing!
Studio boss Tariq Mukhttar described his indie game as "a puzzle-based adventure about personal discovery. Waking up without any memory, and seeing a hand attached to the end of his tail, our unlikely victim must piece together what has happened, and what looming dangers are closing in. You soon realize you’re locked up in a house with an eccentric family whose demeanour doesn’t bode well."
Mukhttar and team walked away with the coveted baseball bat prize. You should be able to play this game in 2019. It'll be on PC first, followed by Android and iOS soon afterwards.
Crimson by Sakura.Jo
What was particularly remarkable about this educational game was the youth of the team. Programmed by two teen girls – who speak five languages and have already developed a number of games – Crimson teaches kids numbers, letters, colours and shapes in Arabic and English.
The game tells the story of Crimson the rabbit and Rosa the cat. Their task is to collect carrots and fish, which you achieve by answering questions. There's a camera mode too, so you can take selfies with the virtual pet of your choice. The judges praised the energy of the pitch and saw a lot of potential in the colourful, well-designed edutainment title. It picked up the second place prize.
Happy Leap by Salah Abu Ali
The third place runner up was a 3D action game still very much in development, but with a fresh concept. “I wanted to make a game that makes me feel like I’m flying in a dream, with complete freedom,” said creator Salah Abu Ali. “But there’s something pulling you down. We all get this dream.”
The purpose of the game is “spreading happiness” - if you share flowers with sad people, this boosts your ability to fly. There’s a literal sense of being lifted depending on how happy you make people.
"It’s freaky!" said the judges, who also described it as cool and innovative: "I can see myself playing this kind of game.”
Unicorn Slayer by Yayy SAL
It didn’t make the top three, but an honourable mention goes to developer Ziad Talge and his team. Despite the fantasy-like name, this is actually a business satire, with the titular “unicorn” meaning a successful start-up business. The game features parodies of tools like Slack and LinkedIn, and tasks you with succeeding as a company in the online tech world.
The judges loved the concept, calling it “clever” and even – despite its obvious humour – considering it educational, because it lays bare the whole ecosystem of the tech world. There’s a multiplayer angle too, and the team have thought about the future and how the game environment might even become a place for real companies to pitch ideas.
Off-road Simulator AR by Murad Shishani
The judges were very pleased to see an interesting use of AR in this racing game. It boasts over 20 cars and over 50 levels of online (1 vs 1) challenge. It was at an early stage in development but shows a lot of promise.
The team has two previous games under their belt: Curvy Snake and Tank Bang.
Colors Way by AMRED
This innovative race game offers simple, clear visuals, and a novel way to progress – you switch between characters, and run, jump or smash (depending on your colour choices) through obstacles and traps on the track.
This indie game was prototyped in just 10 days and the judges praised the quick turnaround and positive attitude of the developers. Since it was at an early stage during the pitch, it’s hoped that the developers will add depth to the levels and include more variation to the gameplay by the time we see it again next year – we’ll keep you updated.
Protector by MZ3G Games
A zombie-fighting game designed for VR, Protector impressed the judges by building tension well. Zombies arrive via a gate, and you have to defend a mysterious Object from them.
Although built for Vive at this demo stage, the judges recommended that Waseem Hijazi and his team take a look at Google Daydream as a possible platform for what should be a very exciting action game.
Boost Your Brain by Omar Samara
A few years ago it felt like brain training games were all the rage. Where did they all get to? Developer Omar Samara takes an indie stab at that market with 17 mini games that stretch the mind, using maths and logic puzzles.
The judges admired the ambition and looked forward to seeing where the game goes – building on its strong puzzles – in future.
Click Click Clang by SWIM
Shreef Alawashreh’s game is an arcade game with time management elements.
It’s your job to protect the Earth from ravaging “Hexas”. With only your mind to overcome the colour challenges, and four shurikens to attack them, you have to destroy the Hexas and steal their loot. The judges praised its clever concept and strong opening.
SWIM’s previous game was called ZOLAND.
Sticky Ricky by Elecore
A gravity-based platform game that involves jumping from asteroid to asteroid, Sticky Ricky is one of several indie games from developer Elaf Araj, who also brought a narrative horror game and other titles to The Gaming Summit. Sticky Ricky was a fun demo project of 30 levels, three separate challenges and three bosses.
She describes it as “an adventure tap game where you have to run from one galaxy to another by jumping on the rotating objects in space”. You can also slow time wisely. The judges thought the graphics were strong and the levels were busy.
One Thousand And One Nights by Saif Alatrash
Inspired by stories from Middle Eastern history and literature, One Thousand And One Nights is a creepy first-person 3D adventure game. Its aim is “to provide a unique mystery experience”.
The judges praised the visuals and distinctive atmosphere. There is an official Facebook page where you follow the game as it progresses.
Your Brain On Something by Hamzah Al-Rawi
This indie title is a puzzle game where levels are solved by rotating tiles and bouncing a ball against them. Each object does something different. The first release will offer close to 100 levels, and will be single-player only on all mobile devices.
The game design is “very original” praised the judges, who also really wanted to give it an honourable mention for the gameplay. This is Hamzah Al-Rawi’s first game and there's no video of it to share. Instead, here's a picture of some of the pitching teams waiting for their turn.
Bag Man by Samer Najada
Bag Man by Samer Najada
Indie developer Samer Najada signed up on the day itself. The platform game was praised for its graphics and the variety in the format.
Read more about the winners (pictured) over on our business-focussed sister site PocketGamer.biz. If you’re tinkering away on a homebrew game, either in a team or on your own, consider bringing it to our next Big Indie Pitch! We’ll be running one in London in January. If this list has whetted your appetite for the Arabic gaming scene, you might also be interested to know that there’s a PocketGamer.ME.
Remember to let us know which of these games you’re most looking forward to, in the comments section below!