Game on, SEA! Five games inspired by Southeast Asian culture to keep you entertained

by Matthew Escosia
SEA Wave - Paper Ghost Stories 7PM Game Malaysia
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By: Jordan Chua

 

Video games are unique pieces of entertainment that directly involve you with its story: from what quests you take on to what dialogue options to pick, you as the player have a hand in how the story unfolds. This makes storytelling in games a powerful and immersive experience that can put you directly in the shoes of a character whose life you never would have experienced otherwise.

Here are SEA Wave’s High Five games inspired by Southeast Asia and made by Southeast Asian developers that you can play now.

Paper Ghost Stories: 7PM by Cellar Vault Games

SEA Wave - Paper Ghost Stories 7PM Game Malaysia

Paper Ghost Stories: 7PM (formerly titled ‘A Short Creepy Tale’) is a short adventure game set in an apartment building in Malaysia during the infamous ghost month. You play as three children – Wen, Ming, and Lun – who explore the apartment, speak with residents, and solve minigames to learn more about their mysterious new neighbor.

The paper-and-drawing style emphasizes that you are playing and experiencing this world through the eyes of children, and while the art style should feel like innocent doodles, the atmosphere and premise keep you unsettled. 7PM is part of the Paper Ghost Stories Anthology, and its sequel, ‘Third Eye Open’, is slated to be released in 2023.

Home Sweet Home by YGGDRAZIL GROUP CO.

SEA Wave - Home Sweet Home Game - Thailand

A short, first-person stealth horror game inspired by Thai folklore, Home Sweet Home is anything but ‘sweet.’ Home Sweet Home tells the story of Tim, a man who suffers grief over his wife’s disappearance and wakes up in a mysterious place, where he is haunted by a fearsome female spirit. Tread quietly and solve puzzles as you fight – or flee – for your life.

According to the developers, this is only one episode of an upcoming series.  The game is filled with references to Thai folklore and mythology, and the stealth mechanics add to the suspenseful atmosphere. Home Sweet Home is a promising start to a horror series that we hope will take the world by storm.

DreadOut by Digital Happiness

SEA Wave - DreadOut Game - Indonesia

A classic horror game developed by Digital Happiness all the way back in 2014, DreadOut follows in the footsteps of the iconic Fatal Frame series with its camera-based mechanics. You play as Linda, an Indonesian highschool student on a field trip gone wrong and must now survive in an abandoned town filled with violent spirits. Your only means of fighting back is your camera: looking through the screen helps you see the spirits, and by taking pictures of them, you temporarily paralyze them so that you can run away.

The spirits are picked straight from Indonesian myth and the mechanics enforce the horror and helplessness of the students trapped in the town. After all, you, the player, will only have a camera and your wits to defend yourself against these terrifying forces.

Hoa by Skrollcat Studios

SEA Wave - Hoa Game - Vietnam

Vietnam-based Skrollcat Studios delivers Hoa: a sunlit, hand-painted puzzle platformer with a gorgeous soundtrack and a peaceful atmosphere. If you aren’t pulled in by the beautiful landscape, then the cute magical creatures and characters that you meet along the way will charm you into a sense of peace while playing this game. Instead of a linear story, the game’s narrative is told mostly through what you can glean from the environment.

Hoa might appeal to gamers who have enjoyed the likes of Spiritfarer or Ori and the Blind Forest. It’s a short, zen experience that lovingly sucker-punches you with nostalgia for Ghibli films. The puzzles give the right amount of challenge to keep you engaged but not to the point that you’re taken out of the atmosphere. The enemies are hardly ‘threats,’ either: just interesting (and sometimes cute) obstacles. While games are traditionally seen as a series of challenges that you must resist and overcome, playing Hoa feels like coming home.

One Last Game by Paulo Arnante and Ateneo de Naga University

SEA Wave - One Last Game - Philippines

Nothing beats the simple joys of being a kid and hanging out with your friends. One Last Game, developed by Ateneo de Naga University student Paulo Arnante as a senior project, has you playing as a kid on his last day in his childhood town before moving to the city. Take part in Filipino street games as you say goodbye to each of your friends. Though the game is short, only twenty minutes long, each of the characters’ relevance to the protagonist are immediate and their personalities stand out. You can’t help but get attached to them, feeling the same hesitation that the protagonist feels in moving away from his friends.

It’s a short and nostalgic story in an adorable pixel-art package. The minigames are the backbone of the gameplay, with the mechanics closely reflecting their real-life counterparts, and the simple story and interesting characters flesh out the game further.

 

Have you played or are planning to play any of these games? What games have we missed? Comment down below!

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