You turn on the tap in your kitchen only to see a rusty spray of water splutter out. That’s odd. You just had the plumbing fixed last week. You twiddle with the faucet, hoping to do some good when you hear a low moan coming from the plughole. You freeze. You lean in to listen carefully. The gurgling is coming closer… closer… A FREE GAME splurts out of the plughole! It wraps its flagella around your neck, its bioluminescence flickering rapidly, its mandibles undulating wildly by your eyes, oh god, now there are more, coming out of the faucet, out of the dishwasher, out of the fridge. Free games! Free games everywhere! Who keeps doing this to you!?
Library of Blabber by Ivan Notaros
Imposing recreation of the Library of Babel from Borges’ Ficciones. Listen to your footsteps echo through the infinite hexagonal rooms as you search for some meaning hidden among the words in the bookshelves. The books themselves are made of a handful of alphabets – Cyrillic, Greek, Latin, etc. I couldn’t find any Asian script, although I think I saw the copyright symbol somewhere… I also found plenty of individual English words but most of them were short and the longest “sensible” string was only 5 words long. But that’s what happens with infinity. A whole lot of noise and no signal. The creator notes: “Although it does not posses the mathematical correctness and ‘purity’ of the original story, it still does contain enough pages of nonsense worthy of several hundred lifetimes.”
Dino Dearest by Ben Caulkins, Anthony Licata, Perrin Mercer, and Sam Suite
Dinosaur friendship and higher education resource. Begin your new life at Cretaceous Colleges, where you have been somehow enrolled in a class with a bunch of dinos. Some of them have stutters and scarves. Others have sharp, immaculate teeth, probably without fillings or anything. There are lots of good lines in this one, and the writers have clearly had a lot of fun. A pterodactyl called “Stilts” is sitting in the cafeteria, vaping to look cool. “Does it have the drug in it?” you ask. The only misgiving I have is that there are so many (great) dead ends to the adventure that you will restart a lot. But the characters and the dialogue make it worth wading back in. You can’t spell ‘paleontology’ without ‘pal’!
Groove Club by Antoine Josset
Indescribable descent into polygon terror. You start off in a place that could conceivably be your home where a woman who could conceivably be your wife tells you (in French) that everything will conceivably be okay. Oh yes, and you have a rendezvous at the Groove Club. Step outside and go find your way. I won’t say much more but I will say this: I have never been more frightened or unsettled by an abstract collection of geometric shapes. Groove Club disturbed me more than anything in the Spooky Halloween Special. And I have no idea why.
Down Ward by fisholith
Flappy platformer featuring an owl armed with a mystic sword. You can fly from place to place in this Game Boy-coloured platformer but to do so you have to maintain forward momentum, so the minute you move against something you start to lose height. For the first few minutes this feels a little sticky and annoying but once the idea settles in it is actually a pleasure to control. Every flap of the wings feels more measured, more precise. Moving becomes about seeing where you can perch and where you can get a good line of flight. The owl is also very good-looking. I love owls.
THEY’RE A HOOT.
*is crushed by collapsing scaffold*
Plangman by Ehren von Lehe
80s fusion of hangman and puzzle platformer. Each level contains a word that you have to find. Do this by stepping on blocks and activating them. If a letter is correct, it solidifies. If wrong, it falls away. So the levels actually deteriorate as you go around guessing. Very early on you realise you need to use fallen blocks as an aid to reach other parts of each level. The words themselves aren’t random but spell out a story of geek love. Spaceships, Hobbits, Jane Austen. It’s all there in the words as you go along.
SOME SMALLER GAMES NOW!
Echidna by ketteringbug
Catchy music platformer full of colours and sheep and stars and echidnas on bicycles wait what.
Super Black Friday Sweep by Sore Thumbs
“SALE! SALE! SALE! Hurry! Don’t stop saving!”
Don’t Let The Red Cubes Touch by davetech
A game in which you must Do What The Title Says.
Brain Guzzlers from Beyond! by Steph Cherrywell
Last week’s ProcJam Superblast distracted me from mentioning any IF, while everyone paying attention would have noticed that the results of IF Comp 2015 were announced. This was the winner. As poor Bonnie Noodleman you have just seen your date have his brain straight-up guzzled. You leg it down from Make-Out Mountain and thus begins a textual parody of 1950s B-movie shlock. There is a magazine personality quiz which you do at the beginning of the story that determines your characteristics and what things you carry (I got a handy switchblade!). It’s something Bethesda probably wishes they could have come up with for the beginning of Fallout. I smiled and chuckled a lot. Between this, Midnight Swordfight (3rd place) and Birdland (4th place), there have been lots of giggles in the competition. Well done, everyone! You done writed good.