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Gaming

Adelaide games developer Team Cherry has the world watching for Silksong

- June 8, 2024 4 MIN READ
What precious few screenshots of Silksong we have. Source: Steam
Adelaide is known for great wine, food, and a lot of churches. Many outside of Australia would struggle to place it on a map.

But it’s also quietly home to one of the most-hyped game developers on the planet.

While most eyes are fixed on the Los Angeles Summer Game Fest and its festivities—set to be in full swing by Saturday our time—a few are peering south, expecting news—or even a release—from Team Cherry, the creators of Hollow Knight.

The gruellingly tough platformer, with its sombre tone and unique art style, captured the attention and imagination of players worldwide. Not only has it become a cult classic in its own right, but its commercial success has arguably put Australia’s indie game scene on the map.

According to the Steam Revenue Calculator, the title turned around over $195 million in gross revenue since its launch, with an estimated net revenue of $57 million. Though these figures are likely conservative, as they fails to account for its distribution on other platforms such as the PlayStation and Xbox online stores.

To put this in perspective: most games on the Steam Marketplace generate less than $5,000 in their lifetime. Not bad for a game that more or less started as a Kickstarter campaign in 2014, raising $57,138—$22,000 above their initial ask.

Team Cherry is a notoriously quiet development firm. They also exist in a weird space in the Australian media landscape, where despite global critical acclaim and a hyper focus from the gaming press, they’ve largely only been covered by Adelaide-based media following their first game.

It’s arguable that some Australians who game don’t even know Team Cherry is an Australian-based studio.

The group revealed a sequel to Hollow Knight— Hollow Knight: Silksong —in 2019 and then, for all intents and purposes, went dark. Five years later, and we’re yet to hear much about the game other than that it is coming.

Musing about a launch date for Hollow Knight has become a popular pastime for the global gaming media. To give you an idea of the hype: even something as small as the creation of a listing for the game on the Xbox store is enough to generate global gaming headlines.

The latest rumour is that more information regarding Silksong will drop at the Summer Game Festival later this week. However, what the internet is really hoping for is a shadow drop. Games generally go through a cycle of marketing well before release.

The public tends to learn of the release date of a new title upwards of three months before its launch, giving the publisher time to adequately market the title and build enough hype to propel its uptake at launch. Shadow drops buck this trend.

The developer just launches the title at an event with no prior warning, capitalising on the hype generated by doing so.

Perhaps the most successful one in recent memory was Tango Gameworks’ Hi-Fi Rush, which launched on the same day it was announced on the Xbox Live Subscription service. (While the game was reportedly successful, Tango Gameworks was recently folded by Microsoft due to internal cost-cutting).

Regardless, if Silksong’s launch is imminent, it’s about to propel Team Cherry, and Adelaide, back into the limelight. It’ll be interesting to see whether broader Australia takes notice this time. Adelaide unfairly does get ignored at the best of times.


What I’m Playing: Another Crab’s Treasure

Yes, its an underwater city made from junk.

This game’s timing could not be better. We’re a few weeks out from Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree’s release. Anyone who’s keen to jump back in needs to start training for it now. You really can’t play games like these from scratch — especially their additional content which typically ramps the difficult up to 11.

Another Crab’s Treasure plays like a soulslike game—a genre defined by tough combat, tight mechanics and a brutal difficulty level. But it dilutes it with some useful quality of life features. For instance: when you die at a boss, you respawn just outside the boss room rather than at point countless obstacles away from it.

Its levelling up and gear systems are also simplified to give you enough choice with customisation, but not enough to muck up your character with poor decisions.

Perhaps the most unique feature is an accessibility menu that allows you to fully customise the difficulty of the game. If you are interested in soulslike games but don’t have the patience that is required for them, this is a perfect entry-ramp into the genre.

One-third in, and the plot is a bit flat. But I’m told it deepens as you go. The world the game is based in however is incredibly interesting. Coral reefs have given way to cities made of bottles and cardboard, lined with photo reel balustrades. Real castles have been exchanged for those made of sand, strung together pieces of plastic and refuse.

It’s a creative way of portraying how increasing pollution is affecting our oceans, romanticising it at first but then alluding to a more sinister undercurrent as the game progresses.

Sadly, the game suffers from a few technical glitches, mainly issues with frame rates and lag. As such, I’d strongly suggest playing it on more powerful gaming consoles— the latest PlayStation, PC, and Xbox units— despite it being accessible ubiquitously. It’s also missing the polish of a AAA title, but for $45, it’s well worth the price of admission.

Another Crab’s Treasure launched without a lot of fanfare or hype. I owe my time with it to my friends at my co-working space, who have been raving about it since booting it up. Who knew crabs were so contagious?

Worth trying if you like: Elden Ring, Sekiro, Shadow’s Die Twice or Lies of P. It’s also giving me Banjo-Kazooie vibes.

Available on: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Cloud Gaming, Xbox Series X and Series S, Microsoft Windows.

Harrison Polites writes the Infinite Lives newsletter. Follow him here. 

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