PAX AUS 2022 Indie Showcase - Repella Fella
The PAX AUS Indie Showcase is a chance to see some of the best new and upcoming titles from the ANZ development scene with past winners including celebrated games such as Unpacking, Hollow Knight, The Gardens Between, Hacknet, Wayward Strand and many more. The 2022 Indie Showcase is bursting at the seams, with 2021 winners invited back for the in-person experience they missed out on. Furthermore, the inclusion of Tabletop gaming means there is an even larger variety of experiences on offer on the show floor. Player2 encourages anyone visiting PAX AUS to make their way to the PAX Rising area and check out the following title as well as the many other excellent indies on display.
Repella Fella is an Australian post-apocalyptic adventure game from Misadventurous, an independent studio based in Sydney comprised of Phill, an animator and developer whose previous work Ray was played almost 5 million times. Having won a prestigious spot in the 2022 PAX AUS Indie Showcase, Player2 contacted Phill to find out more about his development process.
Player2: Repella Fella has had a lengthy development cycle with many challenges along the way – most of which you cover in a compelling blog post on the Misadventurous site I’d encourage everyone to read. Now that you’re close to the end, is the relief palpable or is there something bittersweet about reaching the finish line?
Phill: At this point it’s mainly relief, but I can’t imagine being fully relieved until all of the bugs are squashed and people are playing it as intended. In the six years since I started development, I have constantly questioned how the game will be received. A lot has changed in the 18 years since I made my last game and I have tried to adapt in various ways. I’m very keen to see what gamers think of it.
Player2: What’s your elevator pitch for Repella Fella?
Phill: I’d say it’s a unique game that delves into scenarios you’re unlikely to find elsewhere. For example, as the player, living in a post-apocalyptic Australia, you will visit an isolated trading outpost captured by foreign bandits. It’s located in a heavily polluted part of the country where the weather is unpredictable. In this outpost, you’ll come across a giant talking wombat. You can give it what it wants or you can help the townspeople exterminate the beast via unconventional means. This encounter, like most encounters, will offer the player at least three choices.
There are no ‘bad’ choices. It’s a game about doing what you want. What might seem like a good choice in the present could have devastating effects later on in the sequel. Even the sequel is a choice! At the end of the game, players are left with a final decision of choosing between one of three factions. This choice acts like a vote and will determine how the next game begins.
To give meaning to the world there’s loads of reading materials, advertisements, various audio logs and a 120-page illustrated guide to the world that can be picked up after a certain point in the story. With over 90 voice actors, there’s also a lot to learn by talking to people.
Player2: What is it like revisiting your older works like Ray? Some artists find it painful to see their formative works, others enjoy seeing how far they’ve come. From my perspective, there’s a huge leap in quality between those titles and Repella Fella, what would you say is the area you feel you’ve most grown in as an artist?
Phill: I try not to revisit old works, but it’s hard to forget Ray as it was a giant stepping stone. At the time I thought I was just making something very basic that wouldn’t receive any attention. I never imagined it would generate millions of views. It served a good purpose, it’s how I learned to animate and I landed multiple jobs because of it. With its gratuitous violence, it felt strange handing over a game like Ray as a CV, but it worked!
As for the quality, there’s definitely a huge leap coming from the old games to the new. Ray was animated on a canvas of 500×400 pixels at 16 frames per second. Repella Fella is 2540×1440 pixels at 30 frames per second.
When it comes to growth, I’d say having a different attitude to those early days has helped a lot. When I got stuck on Ray related scenarios, I’d often procrastinate for hours and give up on ideas. During Repella Fella, there were many times where I felt I was in the same boat. Worrying about how I’d animate complex scenes terrified me. The trick was to get started regardless of how I felt, just getting stuck into it and doing what I had imagined. Somehow, it worked every time.
Player2: How did you feel when you were informed Repella Fella had been selected as an Indie Showcase Winner?
Phill: I was in disbelief. I still am, to be honest! I don’t think it’ll be real until I’m at PAX. I’ve never been, and I’ve always wanted to go. I can’t wait.
Player2: As a classic ‘point & click’ adventure game fan myself, were any of the old Sierra titles or similar of influence to you in your younger years? If not, what are some of the titles you think have influenced you as an artist and designer?
Phill: Old Sierra titles and LucasArts games were a huge influence. Monkey Island, The Dig, Police Quest, Leisure Suit Larry and so on. I would say my game is similar to those, but without the complexities of their control schemes.
My favourite would be Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. I love adventure games that continually move the player forward. Where they’re constantly thrown into new and exciting experiences. Indiana Jones was great for that.
Player2: Repella Fella benefits from a distinct visual style and obviously is paying homage to a lot of Australian iconography – what’s your favourite Australian reference you’ve placed into the game?
Phill: The giant wombat. To most, that’s all he’ll be, but to me (and many others, I’m sure) he’ll be a reminder of our childhoods.
When I was young, during the late 80s and early 90s, I visited Wonderland Sydney many times. One of the attractions was a wombat called Warren. I’d forgotten all about him until I visited a Dingo sanctuary a few years ago. They had a wombat too, and to my surprise, it was the same one.
There are many Australian references in the game. Most are more iconic than Warren, but he’s my favourite.
Player2: What can PAX AUS visitors look forward to at the Repella Fella booth?
Phill: The Repella Fella booth will be packed full of Repellery Fellery goodness!
One display will demonstrate a playthrough of the entire game, and there will be another where you can play the game at your own pace. There will be stickers, artwork and even a couple of t-shirts to give away. You’ll also be able to try Repella Fella on a Steam Deck.
Player2: Thanks Phill, we’ll be sure to stop by and check out Repella Fella on the show floor!
A demo of Repella Fella is currently available on Steam, with a full release anticipated before the end of 2022.