Live Free Play Hard: Angels Ate My Brain

By Porpentine on August 25th, 2013 at 2:00 pm.

When we lose one of our senses, Nature compensates by giving us a huge fucking axe. What to expect when you’re expecting hive spiders. Angels of mons pubis.


What To Expect When You’re Expecting Hive Spiders by TheJH

The only guide you need to get through your upcoming hive spider eruption. This is a difficult time, but we’re here for you. You don’t have to erupt alone.

 


Serial Sniper by agrdev

Each time you kill someone, you’re given another target, designated by color, hat/no hat, and height. Of course, the endless series of targets for your sniping pleasure chillingly suggests you’re slaughtering the inhabitants of an entire park just for practice. It’s okay, they’re just cube people.

 


Guru by Brendon Chung

A headless dwarf is standing in a pool of water. Surrounding the dwarf are slow, clunky assassins with huge axes. Welcome to videogames.

Asymmetrical multiplayer game where one player is blind and has to fend off their assailants by sound alone. Footsteps sound differently on water or grass, and are muffled if they’re coming at you from behind.

I haven’t played it because it requires LAN, but I like the idea and it’s from the guy who made Gravity Bone/30 Flights of Loving.

 

Plumber Pickle by Pastel Games

A plumber shows up to an apartment to fix a leak, and just like in the Mario of myth, the pipes go deeper than you could imagine. The door is busted, there’s a hole in the wall leading to god knows where, and I’m going to need to combine so many objects to get out of this mess, because this is a point and click adventure.

 

Service Senpai – Sakura State’s Summer Semester by Nintondo Man and Regyptian

The controls are horrible. You will have so much trouble playing tennis.

The only way I play this game is, I try to escape by running to the river. But always I get teleported back to my prison, the court (how appropriate a term for this place where I cannot escape judgment), where I must serve and receive these vile tennis balls all day, for there is no night in this eternal tennis prison.

The music is the best part of this game–remixed Pilotwings samples. I think I’m mainly posting it because of the music?

Escape by Seonghyeon Jang, GyoungGeun Jung, Paul Jung, Jongwah Kim, Kay Kim, Sinhyub Kim, Sungho Kim, Demonique, Max Richter

“‘Escape’ is about the brave people who tried to defect from North Korea while risking their lives. (Refugee = Deception + Ports) Many of them spend up to a month in a container box with many other stowaways without any facility such as lamp or toilet…This game is dedicated to our friend, J.P. who was one of the lucky survivors.”

You and the other children are crammed in a dark, grimy hold on a ship smuggling you over the Yellow Sea. One of the guards will feed you if you play his sadistic game–he knocks out a pattern on the metal door, and you try to respond to that pattern (by clicking the central circle at the moment the moving radial circles touch it–a rhythm game). Succeed and he’ll toss you a few potatoes.

This mechanic makes just as much sense as anything else in your escape from hell. The guard on this boat and the dictator back in North Korea are not so different–people with power making up arbitrary rules. You follow the rules or starve to death.

The most successful part of this is probably the loud metallic nerve-jangling sound of fucking up a knock. Your quiet rhythmic raps turn to CLANG CLANG CLANG and outside are soldiers who want to shoot you.

 

Composition 62 by Nuprahtor

Walking through trenches high as canyons, dirt crunching underfoot, gun held in front of me, always.

One of Nuprahtor’s last games, welcome to the forest, touched on WWI style warfare–staggering through crimson haze, lost in a wilderness of fortifications and gunfire. Composition 62′s palette is cool by contrast, blues and greys instead of reds, and it demands a similar coolness of thought.

Nuprahtor made a game that will be easy to dismiss with “Is that it?”. And that’s a brave thing for an artist–to present this thing without explanation or direction.

If art is a collaboration with the audience, Nuprahtor trusts that collaboration more than most. Composition 62 is a remarkably understated piece of game design. I found it very beautiful. It made me think of this piece by Beksinski.

~SPOILERS~

Composition 62 has the perfect sound for the sky.

If we’re in videogame mode, we might look up for a second, parse the sky briefly, and then look back down. Only when you occupy the role of a soldier crawling through a dirty, smoking, endless trench does the significance of the sky, with all its freedom and purity and light, make sense. Because it takes a beat or two before the sound softly flows in.

And I crane my head up high because it’s the only pretty thing in this whole fucked up world.

The filth of the trench melts from my body and I am lost in the light.

Then the gunshot rings out.

I’m dead.

Another human did it to me, because like many of Nuprahtor’s recent games, Composition 62 is quietly multiplayer, and everyone who plays the game can see everyone else. Together we unwittingly created the perfect image: A weary soldier staring at the sky, lost in rapture, when a shot rings out, and that precious song snaps out of existence, and there’s only the dirt and death and corpses and flies.

Nuprahtor designed a system that cultivates a single sublime moment–a moment that can only be enhanced by interruption, religious hallucination brought to its full and tragic apotheosis.

This is an Angels of Mons moment simulator.

Of course, the very act of talking so much about that ephemeral feeling runs the risk of crushing the subject. Experiencing something after it’s been put on a pedestal is different from coming across a Tumblr post with two notes and zero expectations, like I did.

So no, there is no pedestal, my recommendations aren’t intended as hype. A lot of the time it’s more like quietly sitting together on the grass watching the sunset and nudging your shoulder being like, hey, look at those birds, or, isn’t that a nice cloud? See them flying across the trees? Or how that cloud catches the evening light? And if you don’t, that’s okay. Emotional ephemera.

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29 Comments »

  1. Dances to Podcasts says:

    Be careful what you bite is good advise any day of the week.

  2. redredredguy says:

    -SPOILERS-

    Damn, Composition 62 hit me hard. The saddest part was how hard it was to get through to other people. I din’t try to kill anyone, and that, in turn, got me killed. Occasionally, there would be someone who would, instead of trying to kill me, just walk along with me, in something of a non-verbal non-violence pact. Most other times, people seemed to wonder why I wasn’t shooting back.

    • kincajou says:

      Similar experience here, however, most games ended up with me and two or three others just wandering around, not shooting at anyone.

      Most curious was the point where there were four of us stuck in the loop, no one was shooting and there was no way out…. some started shooting the wall, i quit the game…

      Really interesting experience

      • ChrisGWaine says:

        I suffered several swift deaths, but once I had one person following me the next two met also joined us.

        I noticed people shooting the wall while we wandered. I read this as their way of testing the button without breaking the ceasefire.

        The next person didn’t move from their spawn position and after that the group disbanded. Hostility broke out eventually, but probably only because there didn’t seem to be anything else to do.

        • 3del says:

          I didn’t realize the other players where humans. So I shot everyone and wondered what the purpose of the game was. I wonder if I would’ve let them live, if I knew they were human, but I doubt it. I guess I’m so conditioned to use a gun in a videogame, that the thought to not use it wouldn’t really come to my mind.

    • Bluerps says:

      I tried to find people that had stopped shooting, but I couldn’t find any. I got shot a few times, and then I gave up.

    • Porpentine says:

      Yeah that was another part of the experience–just mutely, pathetically staring at people and hoping they wouldn’t kill me. Not because I wanted to live (there’s no real penalty for dying, after all) but because I wanted them to be nice to me when they didn’t have to be!

      A very Day Z fragility, in a way.

    • Kitsunin says:

      My first round I wandered around a bit. I saw another player coming straight towards me and shot him, wondering if that’s what I was supposed to do. The next person who came at me I didn’t shoot at, wondering if there was something else to it. I was immediately shot. I spawned two more times and was quickly shot each, despite not being aggressive. Then I went through several more rounds as a lonely deathmatch, never realizing there was the possibility of peace…

    • Geen says:

      Nobody hit me, I shot them all after the first one who I thought I was supposed to follow turned around and shot, not realizing they were people. After searching every trench and killing god knows how many people, I walked up to someone, looked up, and let them shoot me. But before I died I pulled the trigger.

  3. DrScuttles says:

    The first one of these that I tried, Serial Sniper, has no mouse inversion. Is it really that hard an option for developers to include? Sometimes all I want to do is shoot anonymous faceless replicants in a park and push forwards to look down.
    Plumber Pickle was interesting, I noticed it a bit earlier in the week on Porpentine et al’s freeindiegam.es and gave it a noodle. I appreciate the imagination of the scenario.
    Guru sounds fascinating. But I have neither LAN nor people to play with so balls to that one.

    • Dr I am a Doctor says:

      man why would anybody want to cater to weirdos like you

      • DrScuttles says:

        We’re also the life of the party pausing local multiplayer on consoles to invert the Y axis. Sometimes I wonder if there’s a reason the other 3 people tend to gang up on me, but I don’t want to sound paranoid. Like a crazy person.

      • adam.jutzi says:

        I got over the no inversion pretty quick. What I cannot forgive is blue short white hat, that rascal is a hide and seek champ.

  4. Marsha124 says:

    my neighbor’s mother makes $75 an hour on the laptop. She has been fired for nine months but last month her income was $14074 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Read more on this web site…>>> http://7.ly/YwP

  5. beigebloc says:

    Note that the little Mario Teaches not Wearing any Ties in Manholes thing takes its cutscenes so seriously, if you skip the intro you’ll find yourself not having picked up the plunger and wrench which are vitally necessary for completing it.

  6. crinkles esq. says:

    Escape is such a great subject, but the knocking system makes no sense.

    It’s sad that most reality-based games draw on the viewpoints and thoughts of relatively privileged white people, because games have such an opportunity for letting you see from someone else’s perspective. Moreso than even films, I’d say. Games have such an untapped potential for social change. I want to see a game about a Palestinian teenager, a Native American chief in the 1800s, a woman living in Afghanistan, a pirate in Somalia.

  7. PopeRatzo says:

    Sheesh.

    Excuse me, but I have to be back to Saints Row IV, where there are mascots I can kick fifty feet into the air. Which, now that I think about it, is every bit as transgressive as any of these arty games, except maybe for the one with the North Korean refugees.

    • Hattered says:

      Not all of us have a neighbor whose mother makes arbitrarily high values of money each month just working on the laptop for a few hours. Maybe in some future, perfect world, ambassadors of plenty won’t be mistaken for spambots and silenced, blessing all our neighbors with such mothers. Until that day, my friend, we must each make due as best we can, however small our victories. But I keep you from your transgressions; forgive me.

    • The Random One says:

      There’s quite a few transgressive stuff in SRIV, but I wouldn’t count cartoonishly excessive violence against people in dehumanizing clothing accident amongst them.

  8. Gap Gen says:

    Holy shit spiders.

  9. racccoon says:

    Wouldn’t escape be better if it were set in tunnels and you had to find a way out. Someone should make a game about getting out of a box, lolz

  10. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    Not much of a game, but the spider thing makes for an interesting case study in how much information you need to establish a setting. There’s probably less than three full pages of text here, but I feel like I’ve got a pretty good understanding of how brain spiders work.

  11. identifierad says:

    Composition 62 hit me pretty hard in terms of communication. After a few deaths I would find other non-violent people who would explore with me. One of them killed me after we found the second barred trench wall. Another just stood in the centre. I tried to communicate by using an improptu kind of Morse code by firing my gun. S O S. I didn’t get a response I could comprehend.

    In the end, I wanted this other player to kill me. It didn’t work. So I did the other person in. Then I logged out.

    Now, I’m boning up on Morse code in case I ever get the chance to play Journey.

  12. bunduq says:

    Until I read this, I didn’t realize Composition 62 was a multiplayer game.

    I guess there weren’t many people in the game when I played it, because I had time to explore for a while before I saw anyone.

    When I’m playing something for the first time and I don’t know much about how it works, I try to assume that each type of creature I meet is friendly (or at least not actively hateful) until it attacks me at least once. So when I saw another person, I just stood and waited to see what they would do.

    They didn’t do anything, and after a while I turned and walked away. They followed me, and I filed them under “friendly AI” without a second thought.

    At this point, I was feeling good about things. I’d been feeling a bit downtrodden after exploring the trenches and finding no means of escape, but acquiring an AI companion felt like a step in the right direction — one element of a puzzle solved. I tried again all the things I’d tried before: shooting at barriers, pushing against any part of the wall that looked even marginally less-solid, trying to use the recoil of the gun to propel myself. My companion did whatever I did. At the time I assumed they were programmed to do so, now I guess they just thought I knew what I was doing.

    After a few minutes of trying to solve puzzles that didn’t exist, my companion abruptly shot me to death.

    I didn’t know what I’d done wrong — had some unseen timer run out? Had I unknowingly done something to turn the AI against me?

    I tried again, but the next person I saw shot me immediately.

    After my next respawn, I finally tried shooting people. It proved to be utterly unrewarding and pointless. I gave up.

    Composition 62 is about betrayal. Players are betrayed by the sky that cannot be reached; by the angels who offer no salvation, only distraction; by the other players who are offered no advancement by killing but kill regardless; but most of all by the game itself, which turns out not to be a game at all. It’s just a betrayal simulator. Betrayal is the only experience it offers.

    I’m not really sure how I feel about it.

    • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

      Among all the commenters on C62 here, I seem to be unique in that there was not a single person on at the same time as me. While this did make it very peaceful, reading stories like yours and those above make me feel that I’ve missed out; there is no tension in the game, no humanity, when it is played alone.

      This also makes the game a very interesting temporal experience- a month or two from now, it will be impossible for anyone to experience it any way other than how I experienced it.

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