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Unreal Estate: A House In California

Look at butterfly. Eat butterfly. EAT ALL THE BUTTERFLY

I just played this to completion after reading about it on the list of finalists for the IGF Nuovo award for “unconventional game development”. A House In California is the story of a little boy who lives in a large house trying to get to sleep, which is about as effete an idea for a game as I’ve ever seen, and each chapter sees him being comforted by a different family member. Except our little boy already has one foot in sleep’s murky puddle, so the whole experience plays out very strangely indeed. Download it here, play it in your browser here, and read a walkthrough here.

It’s nice. Lovely, in fact. I enjoyed myself throughout. But I don’t know how eager I’d be to give it an award for unconventional game development. I mean, in the face of some of the other nominees (Dinner Date, Nidhogg or B.UT.T.O.N.) A House In California’s perfectly ordinary point’n’click mechanics stick out a bit, especially so since its surrealist setting manages to exacerbate the genre’s trademark opaque puzzles. An award for unconventional development should go to somebody who successfully marries innovative game design with a unique setting and tone, no?

This is me, flinging my two cents into the void. Look, you’ve come this far. Have a video.

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Quintin Smith

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