What Did I Just Play? A Weird Free Game About Zambonis

In a world not unlike our own, Zambonis with faces once lived side by side with mankind, until a political faction forced the ice resurfacers onto a single wooden boat to seek safe passage to the Zamboni homeland. They travel through inhospitable mountains, cross bridges guarded by terrifyingly demented stone faces, and stare death in the face. Mortality is rested on a coin flip, mourning is commonplace, and life struggles to continue without reading deeply into meaningless yet cruel acts of nature. This is The Illogical Journey of The Zambonis, one of the most strangely captivating free games I have stumbled across in some time.

While¬†The Illogical Journey of the Zambonis may sound like the kind of “random” game design that was the bread and butter of Newgrounds during the early 2000s, sophistication and depth lurk beneath the silly exterior. No action is without consequence, and the way those consequences are expressed across a group of individuals was deceptively well-written. It’s a bizarre game, sure, but guided by intelligent design.

The Illogical Journey began life in 2012 on the IGF Pirate Kart, a community effort by indie devs to put together a package of 100 games in just 48 hours as a single submission to the Independent Games Festival. It’s worth looking through the other entries if you have time, as the Kart contains a lot of bizarre and interesting short experiences. Developer Noyb picked Zambonis back up this September, and released this expanded version last week.

The Illogical Journey seems to have a decent amount of replay value in the experience, mainly coming down to changing your decisions in an attempt to keep your group alive, despite the futility of such an attempt. I walked away convinced I could do better, but unsure if the clues to do so ever really existed beyond mere trial and error. Another attempt at progress, another dark corner examining the darkness of futile humanity.

Oh, and it’s free as well as pretty funny in it’s own twisted way. You can get it free over here.

14 Comments

  1. welverin says:

    Has a new writer taken up residence, or are you just visiting?

    • Laura Kate Dale says:

      I wish I were a permanent resident :P

      Alice invited me to come write this weekend’s news posts and the such. Two days in the RPS room writing stuff up, then I vanish off into the freelance pool once more.

      Hopefully you’ve enjoyed my time at the helm of the good ship RPS.

  2. cardboardartisan says:

    No mention of the game it’s presumably parodying: link to en.wikipedia.org

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      artrexdenthur says:

      Zoombinis was such a great game… Childhood memories!

    • AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

      Does that mean that some Zambonis could be saved on the original game, depending on their features? I thought it was a commentary on how life is arbitrary and unfair… it probably still is.

  3. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Zamboni.

  4. Bugamn says:

    Haven’t I seen this game here before?

    • Laura Kate Dale says:

      Porpentine covered the free IGF mini version about 2 years back, this is the full fleshed out complete version that released recently :)

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    Aerothorn says:

    I *just* replayed the demo version, wishing for a full release.

  6. MirzaGhalib says:

    That first sentence really did a number on my head. For some reason I couldn’t wrap my head around Zamboni ice resurfacers with faces. I couldn’t even make sense of the picture until it clicked. Who knew putting a face on a Zamboni could create so much cognitive dissonance?

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    Bluerps says:

    Those poor Zambonis. :(

  8. Dilapinated says:

    I love this game so, so much.