Umm, Errr, Hmm: Foam Is The Weirdest Thing

By Nathan Grayson on June 14th, 2012 at 11:00 am.

Was my house always this purple?
I came, I saw, and I think I conquered Foam. I mean, I did things until – after an hour or so – it ended, anyway. What’d I do, though? Well, I walked to a place, and I walked to another place. Then a door opened in my home, and I’m fairly sure that broke reality. Honestly, though, if most trippy pieces of entertainment are stomach-lurching descents into madness, Foam is more of a gradual down slope – perhaps aided by a harness and a parachute. One moment, I was strolling through a forest, and the next, I was talking to some kind of moon-obsessed mad scientist man. And that, I assure you, is just the beginning. Even the increasingly bizarro adventure’s central mechanic doesn’t really make itself apparent until about 15 or 20 minutes in. So yeah, Foam’s really different. I do have some qualms with it, though.

Foremost, its dialog and puzzle prompts are a bit too vague – even for such a minimal game. Sure, that sometimes lends to the feeling of stumbling blindly through some dreamlike haze, but a few segments definitely require patience. Similarly, failure warped me back to a central location, but a couple areas required multiple steps and transformations to even reach – essentially forcing me to redo simple, tedious puzzles en route to the main event.

Still though, I can’t entirely fault Foam’s structure, as a lot of it is really brilliant. It explains nothing - instead opting to intuitively nudge the player in the direction of its transformation mechanic by way of smart, focused puzzle design. It does not, however, accomplish this by constantly slapping you back onto some robotically structured straight-and-narrow. Sure, each puzzle’s got one predetermined solution, but the world’s fairly open, so you can tackle a number of them in any order you choose. And a good many of the puzzles just make sense. I’m a sentient fire person with totally rad sunglasses, you say? Well then, perhaps I should try burning down a tree.

The world, meanwhile, is this strange mix of surreal, unsettling, and laid back. Again, it’s like being in a dream. I look back on it all and say, “Goodness, I became an egg and talked to a coffee cup,” but at the time, it felt perfectly natural.

So yes, Foam’s short, mostly sweet, and extremely odd. Also, I’ve barely even begun to describe the strangest stops on this particular trip, so play for yourself.

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16 Comments »

  1. Dr I am a Doctor says:

    I love games that look like shit.

  2. Pippy says:

    I guess the Binding of Isaac is pretty divisive.

    • ColonelClaw says:

      Agreed. The first few tries I had at Binding of Isaac left me scratching my head, thinking it was both shit and too hard. I didn’t play it for a month or two, but kept reading about how awesome it was. Finally I stumbled across Northernlion’s Let’s Play on YouTube, watched a whole bunch of episodes (the guy is hilairious) and now I utterly love it, and play it all the time.
      Such a clever game.

  3. DestructibleEnvironments says:

    PC games sure have evolved. :,)

  4. Jackablade says:

    Looks like he’s exceeded his bandwidth so the game can’t be downloaded any more.

  5. philbot says:

    I think it’s name should be changed to “Nondeterministic”

  6. Vartarok says:

    “The user hosting this
    content is out of bandwidth.”

    Damn.

    Can anyone provide another link to download the game? I was interested in this one.

  7. Heliocentric says:

    I just finished it, why did this get a post? I mean… I was playing it wondering when the great reason I should see this would kick in.

    • Mad Hamish says:

      Where have you been? Rich indie devs pay RPS millions to write about their pixely games. The RPS staff only project the illusion of having genuine opinions that determine what they write about.

  8. bakaohki says:

    I’m not sophisticated enough for this game :( Me returnz to quake, me kills moving stuff, ugh ugh.

  9. stwelin says:

    I made this game. Weird that it made it on here! Wish I had seen this sooner, but oh well, I wasn’t paying attention.