Papers Please but with cyborg limb repair. Blurring the line between human and elevator. MMO burial.
Figames is over RIP. I’m selecting these games purely on my own now because I’m a STRONG INDEPENDENT CURATRIX WHOOOOOO <(^_^)< >(^_^)> ^(^_^)^
Limbs by Rezoner
Like Papers Please but with cyborg limb repair. For example, one person is done with her life of murder and she wants you to remove her poison finger claws and replace them with normal non-murder fingers. That sort of thing.
By removing the frantic time limit of Paper’s Please, Limbs is free to focus on the tactile experience–screwing in metal fingers, detaching CPUs with a satisfying hiss. Limb’s cyborg universe is encountered solely through the lens of repair–the workbench as aperture, the way you learn a surprising amount of things just by sitting at a desk in PP. There are mega-corporations and deadly technologies, but your exposure is purely as a repairer of limbs–you know their names because you need to check legality and fix parts.
Spies, clockmasters, sculptors–you do not play them, you repair them. I find this hugely satisfying. Intrigue and conflict surely exist, but you remain calm at the eye of the storm. You are medic and technician alike, and the world turns around you.
I’d love if Papers Please-likes became a thing, this methodical non-abstracted approach is great. I can see games where you mod weapons for alien clients as a scifi weapons dealer, or repair spaceships like in Space Team, or design magical artifacts and swords for a fantastic war, given knowledge of upcoming battles and crafting the best tools to decide the outcome, or craft jewelry for witches.
I MOVE THE PEOPLE by Conrad Hughes
Hypertext made out of paper. You can be an elevator or a human. The human wants to be an elevator. The elevator wants to be more like a human, more free (if only it knew). The elevator is trying to defy its algorithms (“Youve managed to stop superfluously playing the floor chime when operating sans-load; a feat that took 583 days”). Sentient elevators may be unrealistic but there is a sense of friction to be overcome, the painstaking erosion of machine instinct.
I like how nested links are represented in IMTP by little pieces of paper floating above the main paper, shadows and all. A visual hierarchy of links, small digressions given smaller paper. The whole thing has the feeling of an obsessive notebook, a comic-like dynamism. Fantastic use of paper and ink.
Burial by Ben Swinden
Based on a short story by Aliceffekt, this is a text game about death as a virtual world. A train station where the train is always arriving. Moving pillars and tiles atop sand, future gloss used to construct the ancient and dusty. CGI ruins.
I like the cover art, disintegrating face like a mountainous landscape. In Burial, people are just part of the landscape. Note the train, “monochrome in shades of gray, no doors”, like an untextured 3D model—raw materials. In a virtual world, everyone comes from the same polygonal dirt.
The format is that of an elegant parser game: here are the people and objects in the room, this is the name of the room (in parser everything is a room), but the interface is clicking. The text fluctuates subtly, sometimes without me noticing (I’m so used to text being static) and sometimes glitch-spasming at a click. (looking at the source code, these effects are done with massive amounts of <<timedreplace>>, the Twine macro for automated text alteration, at intervals of 0.1-0.3 and 1.6-1.7 seconds–as well as other <<timed__>> macros)
It is quite short, a loop in limbo, done in 48 hours for the Ludum Dare competition. I would happily explore more of this universe.
Tube Adventure Game by Shmorky
I love Shmorky’s art! Cute fluffy critters! Well this is a wacky game where you click around and stuff happens and it’s kind of like eating sugar but in a good way. Like an adventure game that’s way too hyperactive to sit still and just wants to make you smile.
Surface by Geoff Moore
A Twine entry in the interactive fiction competition Spring Thing, Surface begins from the perspective of an alien inside a dying bio-ship. The background images light up gently to indicate your position on a map, a cunning piece of utility tucked away in the visual trappings.
The Day The Laughter Stopped by Hannes Flor
Text game about sexual assault in high school. A famous actor hitting on a 17 year old girl and laughing it off with apologies is just a surface sign of this culture of using and discarding younger women. Trying to disguise these as healthy relationships ignores the power differential of age and privilege–the immense apparatus in place to give boys and men power over the outcome of these relationships.
This reminds me of Calories, the way no matter what you do you get hurt. Both games directly contradict the idea that the victims could have made a choice that would stop the attack, which is one of the central strategies of victim-blaming.
I had this open in Chrome and Firefox, taking different routes in different browsers, trying to see how much effect my choices had, and I realized I was comparing timelines just like I always do in my head with my own problems, always trying to find the “right” timeline, a choice where things could have gone differently. Victims are pressured to be causal supercomputers, capable of predicting the perfect series of events by which they can avoid violence. The attacker faces no such judgment.
“You can do everything right and still get raped.”