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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.

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Laura Kate Dale

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