Live Free Play Hard: I’m A Cyborg And That’s Okay????

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 modelraw 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.

Evocative of Coloratura’s dedication to the alien perspective. I almost thought it was going to pull an Ecdysis. There are multiple endings based on your choices throughout the game.

The Day The Laughter Stopped by Hannes Flor

CW: Rape

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.”



  1. altum videtur says:

    You can allow that choice exists or you can’t. Really kind of no middle road there, since if choice is contingent upon the right conditions, it already isn’t choice.
    But it doesn’t matter. You don’t do things and judge things because of some solemn clarity, you do it because you feel the things and you make the words with your face. Good job. Well fucking played whoop-dee-doo. GG son, GG. Much agency such humen. WP.

  2. Fenix says:

    Awww really sad to see Freeindiegames go! Thanks to you and everyone else involved in it, for running it and helping worthy free games get discovered ^_^

  3. WHS says:

    Limbs is very nearly amazing, but it sure manages to screw up some simple stuff. Brilliant concept, good execution, and then a few infuriating unforced errors, like placing a time limit on the day (so the clock frequently ticks down as soon as you find a properly puzzling hand), having most of the hands be out of warranty (so you’re mostly just rejecting them after a few seconds and don’t need to fiddle with the circuitry), and an uncomfortable emphasis on skin-color matching (is this person white or asian? I don’t know!).

    With that said, I would pay good money for a fuller version, with more body parts, less time pressure, and maybe a Papers, Please-esque story hiding in the background. I could solder in cyborg hand CPUs all day.

    • pepperfez says:

      The frustration of skin-color matching seems like a good way of putting you in the mind of a cyborg technician – you don’t care about it, it’s obviously dumb and pointless, but for whatever reason your customers are obsessed with it. Well, guess you gotta do it.

    • Porpentine says:

      I would argue that skin color is super important and I appreciate a game that doesn’t assume everyone is white. Plus I think people would want their hand to match up to their skin color.

      • Crane says:

        Hey, why’s it the prerogative of some cyborg limb repair-man’s boss (I assume that’s who’s giving you the messages, since they also complain about invalid warranties) to judge whether or not some guy wants his hands to be black?

        How dare you try and stifle his racial identity choice!

        …Personally, my favourite thing was just arbitrarily giving people pistol-fingers to replace their broken ones. No-one complained about THAT!

        • TechnicalBen says:

          No. The norm/assumption is to try and make the limb/prosthesis match the colour of the user. If they ask for different, then it is considered (it’s just more polite to have our assumptions that way first). That and sometimes even when it’s hard, it’s put as an important factor, and money spent on getting it right. Though I know a few who don’t worry about the colour.

          Perhaps it’s just putting the point forward in a way that fits in the game. Else you’d have a massive “patient care” guidebook and 3 day seminar to sit through before playing the game. This reflects real life in the case of a line of text, over all the additional stuff. :P

      • pepperfez says:

        Yeah, I meant to be agreeing with that sentiment. To the technician, the obsession with skin color would seem absurd. They went to cyborg repair school, not beauty school, and what’s really important is the mechanics, right? Of course that’s not true for the person actually wearing the skin, so the game makes its player experience the same tension as its protagonist.

    • Aninhumer says:

      The weirdest thing is that the skin isn’t already the right colour. Apparently these people have been living with mismatched hands up until they break, and then complain when I put their chosen skin back on…

      • pepperfez says:

        Maybe they had an emergency repair done earlier? You know, when you’re out of toothpaste you’ll take whatever’s on the shelf, but then when you stock up later you can be pickier.

        • Dances to Podcasts says:

          I would advise against using ‘whatever’s on the shelf’ when out of toothpaste. ;)

          • CookPassBabtridge says:

            K, Y do you say that?

          • Press X to Gary Busey says:

            You may get that winning hemorrhoid-free smile until you stock up on more toothpaste.

    • Tacroy says:

      What’s the deal with the barcode match / no match? I can’t figure it out, but there’s randomly an entire page in the help dedicated to it.

      • DatonKallandor says:

        There’s a Bar Code on the Warranty and a Bar Code on the Red Board under the Capacitor. They have to match.

  4. ninjapirate says:

    I’m desperately trying to come up with a proper pun in reply to the title, but nothing good comes to mind. Boy, I must be getting Old…

    • snowgim says:

      If I didn’t want Vengeance, I’d have Sympathy For you Mr.

  5. Cryptoshrimp says:

    I really liked Limbs, and I think it’s really got potential for more depth. I’m actually kinda miffed I didn’t think of it myself, since it’s such a natural fit for the cyberpunk theme. I wonder how much of a copy-cat I would be to do roughly the same, but with drones?

    Quick edit: The only thing that was kind of annoying was that the text was blurred half the time – I assume it was for effect, but it made things harder.

    • DatonKallandor says:

      The blurry text is a bug. I had blur in Firefox but it was clear in Chrome.

  6. FartFarticus says:

    Is Limbs working in firefox for anyone here? I hear the music and if I click rapidly around I can sometimes see ui stuff, but I’m mostly getting a blank screen. I tried to leave a comment on the site but I think it uses that disqus garbage

    • Porpentine says:

      It doesn’t always work in Firefox for me, no.

    • Premium User Badge

      Bluerps says:

      It worked for me in Firefox, but it was a bit strange at first. The top part (where the buttons, boxes with spare parts, the radio and other stuff are) overlapped most of the working area. However, that got better when I resized the window, so that I could play.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Surface is amazing! I love how the stories are combined at the end. I don’t really want to play it again, but I wonder a bit what other endings there are (in the one I got, the two creatures manage to revive their sister and they go to get themselves a new ship, helped by the human).

  8. Tukuturi says:

    Is that a Chan-wook Park reference in the article title?

    • pepperfez says:

      [I’m actually the worst because of the double-posting]

    • pepperfez says:

      I’m the worst, biggest nerd because I assumed it was a Monty Python reference. Biggest because my mind immediately went to Python. Worst because I got the line wrong.

  9. shark jacobs says:

    Limbs is really great, even with its flaws.

    this talk of papers-please-likes reminds me of Sister’s Little Helper, which was included in a previous LFPH

  10. Incompleteness says:

    Odd reference in the title.