I was browsing TikTok last night, attempting to distract myself from the sticky heat of Nova Scotia by peeking through into other people's lives, when I stumbled across this TikTok, by developer Stephen Ddungu:
TikTok is not huge for video games yet, but that's starting to change. The algorithm that determines what's on your front page is very perceptive; the stuff I get shown is pretty accurate to my interests. Yet I rarely see game stuff on there, and what I do see is tailored towards relatively new or young gamers with specific interests: the best "wholesome" games, "cosy" games, that sort of thing. It's almost always Stardew Valley, Animal Crossing, or other games that are just the tip of the cottagecore iceberg.
Recently, though, I've been seeing an increase in actual game development content. Developer Mochitoki has been showing off the behind-the-scenes of their game Loddlenaut; gh0st.punk has been explaining how mechanics actually work in video games; even Among Us is in on it, with 2.2 million followers — almost twice as many as they have on Twitter.
So, yes, developers have been coming to TikTok a little late, but that hasn't affected their popularity — and Stephen Ddungu's game is a fantastic sign of the power of this (relatively) new social media. I would never have seen this game if it wasn't for TikTok; other social media falls short when it comes to discoverability. Twitter only shows me what other people have seen, and Reddit only shows me content from the subreddits I already follow.
But enough about the power of social media! Just look at Sword of Symphony, and appreciate how clever it is. Ddungu has only posted two videos to TikTok so far, but he already has 2 million views and nearly 150,000 followers — a testament to how intriguing his game idea is. And he's only 22!
In Sword of Symphony, you play a young Black protagonist, Stefan, with the power of music baked into a weapon, and rhythmic orchestral music will play diegetically as he beats up villains. The animations are impressively intricate and dance-like, with swirling accidentals and staves accenting the character's movement.
It's not entirely clear whether the voidlike backdrop seen in these clips is what the final game will look like, or if Ddungu is simply refining and honing the mechanics in a greybox world — a standard game dev testing world with no distractions — but there's so much to be blown away by even without backgrounds.
It's not surprising that Stephen Ddungu's project has won the hearts of so many already, but it does open up the possibility that the next big hit that goes viral might be driven by the likes and comments of Gen Z on TikTok.
What do you think of Sword of Symphony? Would you like to see it come to Switch? Let us know in the comments!