You know that bit in Castaway, starring Tom Hanks and Fed Ex, where he’s drifting at sea in a raft and the poor football he’s been absolute best mates with for years and years croaks it in the big blue and floats away with a sad smile? Would you like to relive that moment, except instead of a friendly football your closest friend is a huge shark? And instead of floating away from you he’s travelling towards you at a menacing speed and with a vicious and unstoppable hunger for your flimsy human flesh?
Me too! Come on in.
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Raft by Three Students From Sweden
Adrift-at-sea survival game. I try to avoid posting about self-described “prototypes” because many of them will start as a freebie but eventually become paid-for. But Raft is some good vidgams. You start out on a tiny piece of wood with nothing but a rope with a hook on the end. Luckily, all types of flotsam is coming toward you on the current – wood, thatch, aluminium scrap, a barrel containing a piece of rope and a single raw potato. Throw your hook into the ocean and grab things, then forge them into useful gear. A net to automatically catch things, a fishing rod to get some mackerel, a cooking station to boil water. You can even start expanding your raft, turning it into a floating home away from home. You know what? Being adrift on the open ocean isn’t so bad. Wait. What’s that. Oh no. Oh no. There’s a shark circling your raft. Gliding, weaving, probing. It is going to munch on your floor and when it does it will take whole chunks of your hard work with it. Better get to work on that makeshift spear, bub.
I like this because the gameiness of it is immediately apparent, and survival mechanics suit this setting so well. You do reach the end-point, in terms of things to build, within a very short time but there’s some creativity and fun to be had building your floating casa along the way. Hold down the right mouse button with the hammer out and you can choose from stairs, pillars, walls and some other basic bits and pieces. Enough to make a weird, bobbing driftwood factory, lined with nets - a terrible floating creature in itself. An excellent start to something that’s likely to be a popular with all the rugged and bedraggled suitors on the survival circuit.
Road Trip by Adrian Forest
Relaxing vaoporwave car journey with chatty pals. But actually, now that you mention it, all these pals are talking exclusively in emojis. That’s fine, that’s fine. There’s plenty to talk about during a road trip in every language, even one composed of symbolic nonsense. You can choose your responses out of three (random?) emojis, or just listen to your passengers natter. The mountains pass in the distance to the synthy Resonance, the corn fields go by, a plane glides overhead, the city whooshes past with its towering apartment blocks – a mild and chill adventure. Joanna! Will you please stop talking about [Juggling woman] it is becoming very tiresome! Let’s talk about [Vatican flag] or something. Hey! Joanna! What have I told you? [No smoking sign]! [No smoking sign]! [No smoking sign]!
Forgotten by Sophia Park and Arielle Grimes
Corrupted interactive adventure. You turn on the computer to find it is an old, old machine. You see ‘frgtn.exe’ typed slowly into the command prompt and an ancient game called Forgotten Blade starts up. But this isn’t your mum’s text-based adventure. Or maybe it is. Its lost circuitry become decrepit, sullied with time and rusting with glitches. All the characters you meet seem twisted, broken, as if they are no longer functioning in their designed way, but still yearning to fulfill some greater purpose for the ‘hero’. Which they all do, of course, in their own way, altering the font or messages on screen into busted strings of erroneous characters, or stymied hexadecimal. A cracked visitation, a tragic, dying videogame with the digital equivalent of dementia.
Brain Box by Mukul Negi
Block-pushin’ maze puzzler. This is a part of the ol’ push-blocks-into-the-right-spaces-in-the-right-order-without-making-a-mistake-and-having-to-restart-everything genre. I forget the name. Something Japanese. Ninjitsu? Blockwaifu? Whatever. It’s two worlds of levels in isometric 3D with pits for the blocks – some of the pitfalls are 1 block deep, some more. Later there are wee green fizzleblocks which up the puzzles up a notch. But I’ll let you figure that out for yourself. All in all this feels half-standard, half-sturdy. Something for the spatial awareness and logic freakazoids to devour in a single sitting. Enjoy your puzzlemunch, weirdo!
Jump Doper by Cozy Game Pals
Rope-skipping cactus. Yes. You are a rope-skipping cactus and the rope is deadly and will slice you into smaller and smaller cactus bits every time you hit it. This seems to have the benefit of making you smaller and thus a harder target for the dangerous bladerope, but the thing is speeding up all the time, faster and faster. And your cactus isn’t great at keeping himself stable and upright, sometimes twisting so awkwardly when he hops that he lands on his back (his belly?) meaning your timing has to be that liiiiittle bit different. I once got as many as twenty eight skips before getting decapitated. Here’s a rhyme you can sing while you try to beat that: Little skippy cactus went to France, little skippy cactus couldn’t dance, got caught stealing in a butcher’s shop, the butcher saw him and said ‘hop, hop!’, how many pieces did he chop? 1! 2! 3! 4! 5!
Dating Sim by Kyle Reimergartin
Hello how you? Good nice see. Do you vid game? Here is good play. Do you like sport? Yes some time good sport. Is food nice for you? I believe so also. Date is excellent, night kiss I think. Yes yes yes.