Transmissions From Cactus

My favourite indie games developer, Jonatan “Cactus” Söderström, has been receiving a good deal of attention lately. And it’s hardly surprising, because his weird, short games are appearing regularly and each have something unique about them. For games developed often in just a few days they’re remarkable achievements. This is the kind of chap I’d like to see get a little bit more money and some time to work on something beefier.

Anyway, that aforementioned attention comes in form of a brief interview about his entry to the IGF over on, and something rather more substantial from GamesLab. The Gameslab interview covers his background, influences, and a little about what he gets out of developing his weird, minimal shooters and puzzle games. An extract:

Half-Life is my all time favourite game, because it felt like a much more mature approach to games than I was used to when I first played it. Gone were the “cool” cutscenes that plagued so many other games, and the game lacked attitude in general, which made it feel more serious and immersive. I really wish I could try to create something similar, but I doubt I’d ever be able to top it, no matter how much I tried.

Not sure I agree about that. Oh, and as ever he has a new game out. A dreamy platformer called Psychosomnium. Bizarre, and tough.

Finally, he’s released a screenshot of yet another project, Winter Journey, which shows the influences towards making an RPG-skewed “exploration platformer with a longer storyline than my previous games have featured”, as mentioned in the interview.

There it is:

Finally, it’s interesting to take a look at this teasers thread on the Cactus forums, if just to see how many ideas Söderström works on without even completing them as full games.


  1. lalahsghost says:

    Ooh, tempted to play this, and will report my findings as soon as I kick the tires!

    BTW, RPS: how it is that you can creep into my mind and find everything I am interested in and report nothing I’m not. Its amazing! I enjoy your site more and more every day!

  2. lalahsghost says:

    I just tried out the game PSYCHOSOMNIUM game, and well… wow. It really makes you rethink your normal gaming actions and behaviors. Kind of punishing, actually. Who would have known the little secret on a certain screen early in the beginning.
    I really wish you only had to sit/skip the dialogue once. I know the Z button speeds it up, but still. I’m not sure if my console-type-gaming skills are completely gone, but the controls seem unforgiving. I’ve gotten to the third or fourth screen with the bee and the story has me puzzled and interested at the same time, but the foreign nature and difficulty of the game irk me so.
    Like I said, it really makes you have to think for such a simple LOOKING game. :shrug:

  3. MedO says:

    When you’ve got to the bee, it’s not far anymore. The game is way too short in my opinion.

  4. Jim Rossignol says:

    Being short is kind of the point of Cactus’ games.

  5. SBF says:

    I didn’t like it. The jumping mechanics are pretty rubbish (no inertia/acceleration or something). Also the bee bit is shit.

  6. Theory says:

    How on earth do you get past the first set of spikes in Psychosomnium? I’ve died and taken control of the second character, but then the screen to the right has an impossible jump in it.

    I must have been through those two three screens eight or nine times now!

  7. Jahkaivah says:

    Feel like worshipping the guy for the puzzles, and killing him for that bee bit.

    Try and complete Psychosomnium and not scream “WHAT THE FUCK?” real challenge.

    Theory: the puzzles are like the impossible quiz, you wont get far by trying the obvious.

  8. mister k says:

    I have to admit to stupidity… I’m just as stuck as Theory, though I have discovered that after the impossible jump you can go back and find you are on the other side… and then get stuck in a room full of spikes apparently forever….

  9. mister k says:

    oh… they just end. How… lame. This game is far too unforgiving of errors to be honest, and despite having got past the bunnies once I find myself unmotivated to continue….

  10. lalahsghost says:

    Yah, this game is all about trial and error. Not something that I am used to at all.
    Like SBF said, there is something goofy with the movement, but I still see a good game in this for the amount of time probably put into it.
    I also just learned that big guy can jump over the bunnies OR… or or or…. slide then smash them with his fists! It made me chuckle, and that is good.

  11. Yengwa says:

    I can’t get past the room after the impossible jump.

  12. Yengwa says:

    Ahh, I figured it out. Hmm, that was an interesting game. The bee part was annoyingly hard though.

  13. Lunaran says:

    I packed it in at the bee bit. I love little games like this and the ones from Nifflas for the kind of cute little pixel worlds they explore, but it seems they’re often not stocked with anything more than the equivalent gameplay of Jill of the Jungle.

    Now, Bloody Zombies – that was an awesome concept that couldn’t be explored except in a low-res pixel environment.
    link to

  14. eoy says:

    !! spoiler and cheat ahead !!
    for those stuck at the bee part, you can press F11 to remove the spikes.

  15. JH says:

    Cheat for if you’re too lame to manage the bee section — F11 removes the spikes.

    I’d like to make it clear that I finished the game BEFORE finding out about the cheat :P

  16. JH says:

    Er, how embarrassing – dunno how I missed eoy’s post.

  17. K. Thor Jensen says:

    It’s Gamelab, not Gameslab.

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