The world in your backyard. 10 seconds to say goodbye. Ragdoll torture chamber.
SUPERHOT by Piotr Iwanicki, Jakub Ziembinski, Lukasz Spierewka, Marek Baczynski, Konrad Kacperczyk, Dawid Adamkiewicz, vxd555
Ultra-stylish minimal shooter with one simple rule: time slows down when you aren’t moving, and speeds up when you are. This makes you the sexiest badass ever in the world of killing a bunch of dudes for the hell of it.
Greyscale with red accents. Red for bullet trails, red for blood, red for their disintegrating bodies.
The use of text is so good! Words flash across the screen, unfettered from dialogue boxes,
TAKE HIM DOWN
KILL THEM ALL
SINGLE BIG BOLD WORDS LIKE PSYCHIC COMMANDS TO THE WORLD’S PERFECT ASSASSIN.
Like, I’m into games about killing, just be real about it, you know? Make it feel good. Make it sexy. I don’t need to lumber through some muddy shit-hole and hear justifications for my murderous rampage, I just need something like this, where running over a gun picks up the gun and running out of ammo flings the gun out of my useless hands so I can replace it with a gun that has bullets inside it as is my God-given right as a True Gamer.
Don’t be coy. Don’t act like that gun isn’t the whole reason I’m here. Yeah, that’s a gorgeous skybox, great job. No, I don’t want to tap E at some computer terminal. I’m not looking for a serious relationship, I just want to get drunk and make out.
Notes on departure by withoutpillow
A vignette about going to space for a long while and not having the time to say final goodbyes to your lover.
Touches on the same themes as Aaron Reed’s Almost Goodbye. Both use the total finality of slow space travel as a device to highlight the importance of our final moments on Earth (Notes on departure hints that you could be back inside a couple years but the point is the same: deep space is going to separate you from your friends for a long time).
Reed’s experiment is about who you choose to spend your time with and the conversations you have (and does some interesting things with procedural narrative). Notes on departure occupies an even smaller timespan–10 seconds–and asks what kind of message you’d leave behind for someone you care about when you have no time to rehearse your thoughts. Does it drag something raw and sincere out of you? Or do you just choke?
The unlimited possibilities of what to write adds a role-playing aspect to this–the obvious cue is something sentimental (my first impulse, and probably a common one, was “I love you”), but I ended up writing something that felt more interesting: “Don’t remember me,” evoking a scenario in which I realized our relationship wouldn’t survive the distance and it was better this way.
And of course you can be like “askjasdkskaljkdl fuckfuck penispenis cocksplat beefucker” and nobody will stop you.
Lime Rick by KissMaj7
Kind of like Snake, in that you get longer as you move around, but not reflex based. Instead, it’s a solid, well-designed puzzle game where you make careful choices with every tile. The claustrophobia of being surrounded by your own ever-growing body, every movement swelling your mass. Only reaching the apple will grant you temporary reprieve from this nightmare.
It’s complicated by gravity. If you get stuck in a pit, you’re fucked. And there’s a height limit of four tiles, so you might have to do things like zig-zag to make a coil staircase for yourself.
Magi Story by Bryce Mainville
Magi Story is part text adventure, part “clay and a heap of living/dead organisms” from the author’s backyard. Tiny worlds like this make me so happy. Pebbles are boulders, branches are trees, and a can of Raid is a DEATH MONOLITH.
You’re a magi, which is apparently like a cicada, and the world is full of cute clay critters (the big brown hamburger-looking dude is especially good). The cuteness belies the fact that everyone is basically a jerk and more interested in their own selfish problems than helping you find wherever it is magis are supposed to go.
Ragdoll Ahievement 2 by Pegas Games
Strangely relaxing for a ragdoll torture chamber. Fire, spikes, laser guns, all the way to exotic shit like Portal-esque portals.
At the top of the screen you have three objectives at any time, like juggle something with sawblades for 15 seconds, which nets you extra cash or upgrade points. You also have a damage meter, and breaking damage milestones unlocks new items, which helps you do more horrible things to the ragdoll, and thus the twisted cycle continues.
So fun to experiment with! The three objectives are great because instead of screwing up the sandbox feel with a series of puzzles that must be completed before the game can continue, you can challenge yourself at will, and if one is too hard, there are two more to try for. Or you can ignore that for a bit and focus on the blunt juicy progression of doing lots of damage.
So the system allows a variety of approaches while punishing neither. Going for the objectives means building gimmick courses designed for specific outcomes, while going for damage means constructing elaborate cathedrals of pain (it is really satisfying to pack a room full of blades and flamethrowers and rockets and explosives and watch it unwind like the world’s scariest Rube Goldberg machine).
Utopia by Tom Flynn
A brief journey through life, taking a cue from Thomas More’s Utopia, a “book in which he describes a fictional island whereupon is found the perfect form of human society…Derived from the Greek ou (not) + topos (a place)…Literally, no place”.
Posting this especially because of the BEAUTIFUL PIXEL ART. Such a sense of gradient and motion–sand whipping through the burning desert, moonlight streaming to illuminate a body on the seafloor.
So I guess the idea is that no matter how far you travel, nothing will be perfect. All we can do is enjoy the colors and sensations while they last, and that was very much my experience with Utopia.
Time Flies Straight by MrSpeaker
You have to reach a golden orb but you’re one second short! At first I thought this would be the kind of game where I earn extra seconds on a timer to reach new parts of the map, but instead you meet Carl Sagan and he tells you that time is a fractal and the world starts streeeeeeeeeeeeetching.
The author suggests that it is “Best enjoyed in fullscreen mode (lil’ button in the top right), after 1.5 standard drinks.” I didn’t drink, but I don’t think I needed to.
Samsara Room by Abroy
In contrast to the sterility of many one-room games, Samsara Room is an atmospheric, organic experience. A lizard crawls across the wall. Contemplative piano threatens to burn away into static. And this nice room full of lovely furniture has frays here and there and if you keep picking at them…
This is a great use of the one room premise because it transfigures that space while retaining the archetypes established in the opening. No matter how much the room changes, objects resurface in various forms–a structure to ground the surreality and give it a kind of internal logic.
And while the universe is surreal, the relationships between objects make sense–pencils draw on paper, matches light candles. Samsara Room is not on the sadistic side of the difficulty spectrum, instead it flows nice and lets me enjoy the ride, which is uncanny, morbid, but never without a sense of humor.