Think back to your innocent and carefree youth. The sound of your parents’ car has disappeared down the driveway. They won’t be back for an hour and you’re all alone in the house. What do you do?
River Bones by Turnfollow
Float down a river of bones and memories. On the banks of the river you spot the smoking remnants of a fire. Clamber out of the water and click on it to find yourself in the black-and-white past, held up in a hotel room with your “assistant” lounging in the bathtub. A truck is pulling up. It’s time to get out of here – and don’t forget the gold. What follows is a quiet pursuit across the night and one of the better journeys produced by the Mystic Cowboy game jam.
It’s also full of eerie detail. For example, the bones in the water as you go from campfire to campfire start off as snakes or fish but the further you go through this watery canyon the bigger the corpses get and the more bones you start to notice. As scenes from the past are played out with each pile of abandoned embers, the story of Olivia and her “assistant” becomes more desperate and strange until you come across the last encampment and you finally understand what has happened.
You Must Be 18 or Older To Enter by James Earl Cox III, Julie Buchanan, Joe Cox
Flashback to discovering porn (caution: here be sex noises). Your parents have just left the house, the car has cleared the driveway, the whole neighbourhood is quiet. Time to log onto AOL! The kids at school have been talking about mysterious images they have discovered lurking beyond the search bar and now you too want to see these things for yourself. Enter the suspenseful black and white world of this game to re-live those terrifying, educational moments. How long will you keep looking? Do you dive deeper and deeper, revealing more of the naked writhing bodies (all rendered here in blurry grey-scaled art) or do you “quit while you’re ahead”? All the while there’s always the option to look behind you, making sure your parents have not somehow arrived back without you hearing them – because, yes, listening out for sounds is one of the things you’ll have to do. Was that a car door slamming or was it just something loose falling in the other room? Oh god, the tension. THE TENSION. Hm, I wonder what clicking on this advert does.
Mori by Christoph Schnerr
Little boy wanderer. Trapped in a box for who-knows-how-long, this child has been protected from the dark shapes and scary sights of his world. But now the box falls open and you can wobble through the shadowy place, full of huge vegetables. Carrots and parsnips dominate the landscape, worms plod through the dirt, and those dark things move around freely, sometimes avoiding you sometimes approaching you. But never as harmful as the box suggests. What happens if you follow them around? What happens if you just rest for a moment?
Badb’s Tea House by John O’Kane
Grassy countryside tale, set in a whimsified version of old Irish myths. Balor the Sleepy, an ancient and supposedly evil apparition, has been disturbed from his slumber by someone using the singing stones. This will not stand. Help Balor figure out who is using the stones by talking to the folk relaxing at Badb’s nearby tea house, using his power to force the villagers to tell one lie and one truth. It is the sequel to Grandpa Pip’s Birthday, previously featured in this column, and there are some recognisable faces. This outing also includes plenty of the ridiculous details behind Celtic myths, like Badb trading things for promises instead of coin, or the Druids being able to see deep into the past with clarity thanks to the “technology” of oral storytelling.
Pix Hop by Abdullah Alsayed
Techno bouncer. Keep your bouncing white square from falling down holes and getting nabbed by the various dangerous traps that appear in pursuit of a new hi-score. Nothing could be simpler. Different coloured squares will rear out of the gaps in the floor to harass you. Some colours lock on and dart toward you, others fire bullets or a long laser in your path. Collect the white “coins” to increase your score. And keep bouncing.