Clay-punk fever dream Dujanah rises from the sands

dujanah

I’ve only played fifteen minutes of Dujanah [Steam page] thus far, and I am still trying to process what I just experienced. Jack-King Spooner (creator of Beeswing and the cheerfully hellish Will You Ever Return series) has always made very strange and experimental, if heartfelt games, but Dujanah is on a whole new level. An open, exploratory world of clay and FMV, sadness and unsettling laugh tracks all filtered through an interface that feels like half overtaxed VHS player, half malfunctioning Commodore 64.

And then there was the incident with the Spider Man’s sperm.

As with Spooner’s other productions, Dujanah seems to subvert the very language of videogames. A pixellated overworld that could be lifted from a SNES RPG, a quest log that reads like a to-do list written on a post-it note against a warped VCR interface background, a huge driveable mech with a head seemingly crafted out of an Atari 2600 cartridge and more are used to provide touchstones. Familiar interfaces and thematic hooks, which Dujanah almost immediately up-ends in pursuit of telling its dream-like story.

It’s been a while since Jack-King Spooner turned to Kickstarter to fund this strange project. While it appears to have missed its initially planed launch of October 2016 by a few months, it would seem that he has made the meager £6,729 last. It has been a week since launch, and the release seems to have largely slipped under the radar due to the absurdity of this September’s glut of gaming news, but it’s still sad that it launched to so little fanfare.

I’ve only just scratched the surface of what Dujanah has to offer, and I cannot wait to dive deeper into its strange, dusty, sad world of clay and giant robots and weird monsters later today. Although I do hope that the Spider Men behave in future; I don’t care if that was ostensibly a combat sequence, that was just rude.

Dujanah is out now on Steam and Itch.io, for £6.99/7.99€/$8.99.

12 Comments

  1. and its man says:

    aaaand… it’s purchased. My Hylics got itself a friend.

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      Based on the header image, would you say that your Hylics got itself a (pedi)pal(p)?

  2. cpt_freakout says:

    Had no idea about this or Spooner’s other games, but that’s why I come to RPS. Thanks for the note, this looks very interesting, and I dig the music to boot!

  3. poliovaccine says:

    Ditto above, never heard of this guy or his stuff either, but my interest is officially piqued. The vibe I’m getting here is basically like if David Cronenberg and David Lynch had a child together and then they abandoned it on a stoop to be taken in and raised by Nickelodeon… which sounds like a good thing, in case the the analogy is unclear haha

    • Jernau Gurgeh says:

      It sounds like a wonderfully good thing indeed, that I may eventually regret entertaining as my mental health crumbles even further.

  4. vorador says:

    That was weird as f*ck and i think i’m gonna have nightmares tonight about it.

    I’m impressed.

    I think that if this guy and swery from deadly premonition worked together there would be something truly amazing.

  5. April March says:

    Speaking of new releases of intensely weird, dreamlike games that subvert traditional gameplay mechanics, just this week Where They Cremate the Roadkill came out, a new game by myformerselves, creator of Middens and Gingiva.

  6. Jernau Gurgeh says:

    This game looks and sounds right up my cup of adrenachrome-infused tea. I may possibly invest my time.

  7. H-Alien says:

    Great game, unfortunately I can’t unhear that mech-moving-sound. Dab-bah-dah-bah-dub-dah-bah-dih…all day long.

  8. AyeBraine says:

    I have to note that a very similar surrealist game that was Kickstarted and long in the making has just been released.

    Where They Cremate the Roadkill (which I even forgot I’ve funded) is finished and has sent out the keys to backers. It seems new-age and DIY enough, but also seems to at least have some gameplay.