It’s 2010 and you’ve just come back to the city where your friends (your real friends) live, after a terrible experience undid the happiest time of your life. Things have changed. You’ve changed. You’re out of the loop with everyone’s lives and worries, and starting to realise you can’t go forward any more than you can go back.
But then you remember the villagers. The little runty buggers, with their shiny coins and their delicate mortal frames. Most of your friends are not really bothered about games, but the villagers? They will smack them around with you. You know in your heart that they will crush them and wreck their houses and slam them into the ground as hard as possible, and they will cackle with sadistic glee with you. You are all terrible people. But you can be terrible together.
Pillage the Village is a tiny gem. After an extremely brief and funny intro, you control a disembodied hand (the old windows pointy one, because why not use the medium to your advantage) as it brutally murders defenceless villagers for their gold. A simple click picks them up, and then you fling them into the sky, or bash them against the floor as hard as you can. The harder you destroy them, the more gold they let out. It’s atrociously satisfying to hear them crunch and squeak, and to hoover up their gold, and it’s deceptively, entertainingly challenging. Too many escaped villagers costs you the game, and they soon fill up the screen with parachutes and hang gliders and some of the little sods even climb up the sides of the screen and filch your gold. You move from slowly cracking them to desperately flinging them skywards to buy a few seconds.
That’s why you buy the upgrades, which gently mock the then-prominent Moral Choices systems of major games by offering a ‘pacifist’ path in which you give villagers lethal injections, or (spoiler) summon a herd of horses to “passively” trample them en masse. It’s ridiculous. It’s timeless. It’s in the past, and yet… joy of joys! It’s still with us.