Here’s a provocative declaration for you: Studio Oleomingus are making the best-looking games in all of videodom right now.
Flicking through pages of storybooks and stepping into tales as they’re being told, their games overfill surreal sets with knick-knacks and bric-à-brac, books vases and teapots and skulls and jars and flowers and taps and televisions and giant toothbrushes. They’re colourful and weird, and I want to touch every ornate surface. Each new fragment of Somewhere, whatever that ends up being, is prettier than the last. All of which is to say, Timruk [official site] is their latest pretty tale, and it’s out now for free.
Timruk is about a book containing a story about a story told to a prince named Timruk about a painter who hid his son Timruk within a manuscript illustration to protect him from a god, and was doomed to keep painting it over and over trying to find a way to free him. We ourselves end up trapped in that, of course, and… I honestly don’t know if there’s a way to escape it. If there is, I haven’t found it. Yet I’ve seen screenshots from Oleomingus of places I’ve not visited, so maybe? Tricky stuff, this metafiction.
The two-person team call Timruk “a storybook from within the world of Somewhere, and a small excerpt from our larger game.” And it is mostly a storybook, flicking through written pages and gorgeous illustrations while sitting in, and exploring, a few ever-changing rooms. The groaning music is lovely too.
I’ve still no idea what Somewhere will be. The first fragment they released, Fictions, was a bit stealthy as you tried to sneak into people’s minds and discover the different way they view the world. Rituals was more simply about stepping into stories and other perspectives, and now Timruk is a book. Somewhere is meant to be a collection of stories about the Kayamgadh, a mythical city of storytellers, and the search for it. Given how much Oleomingus are grooving on writers like Borges and Calvino, I wouldn’t be surprised if Somewhere is all of these and none of these, if it’s always just over the horizon and it’s already behind us.
I do think my favourite detail in the storyworlds of Oleomingus is how printed pages from books and newspapers are often used as decoration and detailing.
Timruk is pay-what-you-want (with no minimum) for Windows and Mac from Itch.