Keyboards are eternally horizontal, and moving or rotating them outside of their designated comfort zone feels like an affront to all that is good and right with the world. But that's precisely what makes Ludipe’s alt-ctrl game Tie Simulator 2020 so wonderfully weird. As many RPS Treehouse members found out at EGX 2022, it's a game that sees you holding your keyboard vertically, and pressing buttons to (sort of) tie your tie onscreen. Now, Ludipe's back with a new co-op sequel called Back Scratching Simulator 2023 where you're once again doing terrible, but brilliant things with a vertical keyboard.
Like Tie Simulator 2020, Back Scratching Simualtor 2023 tasks you with holding the keyboard vertically and pressing specific keys in sequence. Your aim is to complete the sequence in the fastest time possible, which is hard when you’re still trying to comprehend that keyboards can indeed be lifted from a desk.
The big difference is that Back Scratching Simulator 2023 is co-op. You hold the keyboard on your pal’s back and hide behind them so you can’t see the screen. Your friend, who is looking at the screen, then tells you which keys to press to scratch the itch. The key thing (sorry), though, is that none of the onscreen buttons have letters on them, leading to a lot of shouting “ooooh, down a bit! Now up a bit! To the side NO THE OTHER SIDE!” It's a quick bit of funny chaos, just like scratching a back in real life.
When we visited EGX 2022, Ed and I had a good few hours to simply wander around together. We inevitably stumbled into the RPS Alt Controller area, where we found Tie Simulator and quickly grabbed the keyboard. The look of confusion on Ed’s face for the following 60ish seconds was priceless, and I’m desperately hoping that we can get together in the same room again soon to play Back Scratching Simulator 2023. I might not be able to see his confusion anymore, because one of us will be looking at the screen, but I can’t wait to hear it in his voice.
You can name your own price for Back Scratching Simulator 2023 over on Itch.io if you want to scratch that itch right now, of course - and you might as well pick up Tie Simulator while you're at it, too. They were both created during Itch.io's ALT+CTRL game jam, which is all about making games that use controllers in weird ways. You can check out the other entries for last year's ALT+CTRL 2022 here.