Israeli game development accelerator Game Hub has drawn its first round to a close and just a brief glance at some of the games that it has enabled developers to produce speaks volumes for its importance in advancing the Israeli video game industry.
Over the course of the past three months, five projects have been in development at the Game Hub (https://www.gamehub.org.il/english) incubator in Jerusalem. The program provided them with mentorship opportunities, calls from established game developers and funding of up to NIS 80,000 for the four-month period, depending on the size of the developers’ studio.
At the end of the program’s first cycle, these five projects are leaving the nest to find success in the global indie game market:
Westurn (from developer JimJum Studios):
Action-adventure mobile game Westurn – a nod to the game’s turn-based gameplay and Western aesthetic – is the only game available from the Game Hub cycle ready to play now. Featuring PvP (player vs player) duels, unlockable loot and a donkey steed named Tusik (Hebrew for “butt”), Westurn is a great showing from a four-person development team composed of two brothers and their childhood friends.
The graphically stunning 2D platformer Spiritfall combines loop-based progression mechanics from roguelike games like Hades with combat mechanics from platform fighters games like Brawlhalla or Super Smash Bros. Based on gameplay videos from the developer, the game looks like a tight and competent title that could make waves once it releases on PC and consoles in 2023. A public beta will be available in October later this year.
Trial and Error (from developers Dinara Abdullina and Mati Kalter):
Trial and Error is an interactive true-crime detective game based on real murder cases, some of which ended in wrongful conviction – and even execution – of innocent suspects. Players explore crime scenes and examine evidence and read testimonies before making a critical decision: should the accused be convicted or acquitted?
The developers emphasize the social importance of their game, which serves as a criticism of the justice system. The game is a continuation of Abdullina's final project for their game development program at Bezalel.
Trouble Juice (dietzribi):
From the developer of the recent indie hit Toodee and Topdee, Trouble Juice is a 2D platformer/shooter in which players run, jump, shoot through waves of pixelated monsters and ultimately save the universe. Each character from the game’s roster uses a unique special ability that affects gameplay, culminating in a charming and digestible roguelike experience.
It's Raining (from developer Amir Cohen):
Still in the prototype stage, It’s Raining is a game based on the experience of playing with real toys, that aims to emphasize feelings of discovery and wanderlust. Players will be able to freely build and complete cube-based structures that then “take on a life of their own” after construction.
These games were available to play at Game Hub’s end-of-cycle exhibition event, alongside several titles that have set a high standard for what it means to be an Israeli Indie Game, such as Blind Drive – an award-winning, sound-based comedy narrative game by LoFi People in which players take the role of a blindfolded driver who must use the game’s minimal visual interface and context clues from the game’s audio to determine which way to steer in order to dodge cars, pedestrians and gunfire from angry mobsters – and Racket NX, by One Hamsa, a VR-exclusive title that the developer describes as “Racquetball meets Breakout inside a giant Pinball arena.”
The Game Hub program was established in collaboration between the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design Jerusalem, the Hebrew University, the Jerusalem and Heritage Ministry, the Jerusalem Development Authority, the Social Space Association and IronSource.