Hello? Is this thing on? It’s good to be back! I took a handful of weeks off to write exams (thank you all for your well-wishes!), and now I am returned to the RPS feeding tube of content. I’m poised and ready with my itch.io firehose, looking forward to blasting y’all week after week with those sweet, sweet video games.
In my weeks off, my schedule was crammed full. I longed for a day to myself without the nagging responsibilities of reading, writing, feeding myself, feeding my cat, sitting in L.A. traffic, sitting in L.A. traffic on the way back from wherever I went that first time I sat in the traffic… And so, this week’s iteration of Priceless Play is devoted to games that ease the sting of being alive.
Here are some short, sweet, life-easing games I’ve played to get back in the swing of things.
Now, before we begin I want to make a quick note: It is October. That hallowed month of Halloween. I know this, you know this, we all know this. Next week I’ll be bringing you the cream of the crop of (free) online horror games. Until then, here are some games less likely to make you jump out of your skin or keep you up at night.
Irori from PomePomelo
In my ongoing mission to provide you with games that teach you how to cook, I’m ecstatic to include Irori in this week’s list. In Irori, you assume the role of a chef who prepares and flame-grills food in the irori car of a moving train. Yes, like most cross-country locomotives, this train has been outfitted with a traditional stone Japanese sunken hearth for cooking food — and it is your job to provide delicious and nourishing food to the adventurers who need it. Irori is a comforting game to play, crackling to life with small details, like hand-drawn pictures of skewered cooked mushrooms, or the satisfying swing of a knife into dragon figs.
In A Little Bus Stop, you watch (and encourage) a couple having a conversation while waiting at a snowy bus stop. The game is short, and it’s more of a voyeuristic conversation-watching-simulator, but the experience is well worth your time. The small, diorama-like scene is gorgeously rendered, and the rest of the game feels purposefully understated: the white-space surrounding the couple taking shelter in the bus stop is vast, the music is low, the wind is howling.
A Little Bus Stop makes me think about all the different conversations I’ve had with people at bus stops — they’re strange spaces, aren’t they? Peculiarly transitional not-places, always in the same spot (assuming your bus driver has the patience and traffic is forgiving).
When I’m writing, I can only listen to one thing: lofi hip-hop. The lofi hip-hop can be beats to study/relax to (studying anime girl gif inclusive) or it can be the playlists Spotify spits out to me week after week or any other variety in between. But the fi- has got to be lo- and the beats have got to be lush and there’s got to be some crackly 1930s film dialogue in there somewhere. And so, I believe that the Lofi Chip-hop Machine was made for me.
Lofi Chip-hop Machine (stylised as 【ＬＯＦＩ ＣＨＩＰ－ＨＯＰ ＭＡＣＨＩＮＥ】, because… vaporwave?) is a music tool with pre-loaded drumbeats and chippy-tunes to loop and cycle through to make your own lofi hip-hop beats to study/relax to. I spent ages joyously fussing with dials and loops to make some truly sick tunes, and I wish I could put those tunes right through from my screen to yours. As an added bonus, the Machine was made from one of my favourite yearly game jams, the Famicase Game Jam! Here is the faux game cartridge Fricochet’s game is based on.
Flirting from Josie Brechner
In Flirting, you play as a nonbinary person in a mech, who has taken a break from stomping around a big city to flirt with another nonbinary person in a mech. They have also been stomping around in their big mech. Dialogue can carry on for exactly as long as you want it to, or you can bail at any point to descend your mech and head on over to your crush’s big ol’ meg. The game is extremely cute, lighthearted, and a great antidote for any sad mech media you may have inadvertently consumed, such as from the Sad Mecha Game Jam (a jam I’ll plug from now into infinity).
If Josie Brechner’s mellow tunes in Flirting feel familiar, it might be because they are: Brechner composed the soundtrack for Extreme Meatpunks Forever. Be gay, smash mechs.
Look, sometimes it’s just good to make a bunch of extremely angular procedural animals, okay?
See you next week, when Priceless Play kicks off on its Halloween Spectacular!
Ed. – Priceless Play is normally on a Saturday, but there was a wrinkle in the CMS scheduling this time!