Undead and disabled. Supermarket carnage. Tender star quest.
Mazing by Ryleigh Kostash
The elements are primordial: Run through a maze, grab a key, avoid the monsters, get to the exit. But Mazing lets you break the rules. You can hop over walls.
Jumping has a cooldown, so using it efficiently is life or death, especially in later levels where monsters SWARM the maze and a less than perfect jump gets you ate.
I really like this. It feels good to break the rule of the walls. Makes me feel like a skulking cartoon burglar. Just the right amount of things to think about: mazeshape monsterpath whentojump.
Dating Sim by Kyle Reimergartin
Finally a game that captures what dating is REALLY like
NOISY DISORIENTING DOOMED
You Only Get One Chance by danman9914
Choose the best object to fulfill three tasks. You only get one object! Funny to pick the best object for most of the conditions, killing a vampire and setting a fire with an axe, then realize you’re dropping it on a baby. It’s for the greater good…
The conditions are repetitive though, I’d like to see more variety.
Lucid by AC Atienza
Calm, reflective star journey in hypertext.
You occupy a body that is beyond human, modified to breath toxic atmosphere and regenerate during sleep, but not so explicitly described, nor gendered. The writing lends a feeling of detachment to even moments of bodily trauma. I felt like I was dwelling in a robot chassis. I found Arden’s perspective on that choice interesting: “Sometimes I feel like a strange monster trapped inside my human body, uncertain of how even I feel about it, and Lucid didn’t tell me I was wrong – it told me I was important.”
From the main menu of the game, a link entitled Fragments: “Your body is not what you are born with but rather what you make for yourself.” This ephemeral attitude toward bodies extends to others as well. [SPOILERS] When you’re talking about the fox, the construct refers to the uncertain nature of the fox, but doesn’t state it in terms of shapeshifting, instead suggesting that your impression of others is more about you than them. And you know, that’s pretty much correct.
Dojo of Death by nicotuason
One button ninja slaughter. The streamlined controls–move toward mouse cursor, click to dash–unify mind and body into a killing machine. I like the death animation, frozen as a fountain of blood sprays to the sky.
Ernesto by Daniel Benmergui
Puzzley roguelike that reminds me of Desktop Dungeon’s deterministic decision-making. The dungeon is abstracted to a grid of objects, a field of pure choice where you decide the best order to receive monsters, traps, medkits, weapons.
Your movement leaves a trail behind you. The trail, like in Snake, cannot cross itself, so you want the most efficient path that doesn’t kill you (while muscling up for the endgame boss). You can undo moves by clicking down the line, as long as you haven’t actually died.
Last Chance Supermarket by Sebastian Lague
Shop at literally breakneck speeds, avoiding other shoppers and trying to fill randomly generated lists. It’s funny because you go so fast that you can’t help but order thousands of dollars of worthless junk, consuming at the rate of why is this cart so fast that I can literally die piloting it toward the things I need to buy to generate the illusion of my children loving me.
Zombie Ninja Confessional by Whisperbat
Disability explored through a zombie ninja protagonist. You have action points to spend every day on taking care of yourself and maintaining your environment. Entropy laps at every action. Catching up seems impossible.
Leon Arnott describes it: “”zombie” being a metaphor for physical atrophy, and “ninja” referring to beloved hobbies and sports that you can no longer participate in, and able-bodied friends that you can no longer be in the company of.”
Your flesh is rotting. And that’s the thing, isn’t it? Part of being disabled is being subject to society’s eugenic perspective that you’re basically already dead, consigned to the trash heap by your impaired productivity. The aesthetic of evil as diseased, pus-dripping, and deformed is pretty ableist. I identify more with diseased mutants, with their blemishes and distorted movements, than healthy physically fit humans. History is written by the healthy.
Framed as a strategy/management game, which is interesting, because those tend to be efficient, with fairly logical returns based on your actions. But clicking the Relax command doesn’t guarantee anything. Because just as in real life, “Due to a combination of pain and stress you are unable to properly relax.” Making the “right” decisions doesn’t always do shit. Zombie Ninja Confessional is as fragile as the protagonist’s decaying flesh, reminding me of HORSEMASTER’s desperate decisions.
A lot of strategy games are in line with a harsh, Randian universe. Make the right decisions and you’ll be fine. Fuck up and you deserved it, you scrounger. Some of the simulations I’ve seen in recent years come from a different perspective, one that models an unfair universe where you can’t always tick off all the checkboxes and get a cookie. Sometimes the checkboxes multiply, sometimes they’re invisible. No one has all the options arrayed in front of them.
When your health drops to 0, the game forgets when you last ate or took your pills. Because pain impairs memory. It’s part of the downward spiral. So it’s not just about making the right decisions, it’s about being aware of whether any decisions exist at all. Everything in this game stresses the need for communal care, not the ruthless survival of the fittest practiced by certain governments.
The art complements the theme of having no energy. Black and white scribbles, the bare minimum of noise to convey something, anything at all. The games we make under physical duress. Many of my own games were made in poor health, so I understand the lean, scant claddings. Art is an extension of our bodies.