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Clay-punk fever dream Dujanah rises from the sands

Does whatever a spider can

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.

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Dominic Tarason