I should've told you about Little Party [official site] when I first played it in March, but I couldn't quite find the words. It's a free potterer starring a mum whose daughter is visiting with her friends for an arty all-nighter, come to your cabin in the woods for inspiration, and it's delightful. As the end-of-year plaudits approach and I'm thinking about games that've stuck in my head, well, it's never too late to tell you about this.
Little Party is a quiet, slow game where you potter around, checking in on your daughter and her friends as they make films, paint, compose, and are otherwise creative. You don't want to impose, but you do want to be sure they're okay. You'll wander about, stumbling across them about the place, chatting a little, and getting on with your own day as time jumps around. It is warm and gentle and funny, and I don't want to say too much. I'm trying to be brief or I'll ramble.
It's a beautiful game. The woods are dense and colourful. The cabin is homely, crammed with everything from family photos and an odd hedgehog statuette to a poster of cheeses and a lazy dog. Using basic 3D environments with scrappy sprites instead of 3D models meant the two-person team could fill the world with things, and even the 2D characters with only a few frames and static poses feel alive, as long as you don't stare too long. I liked the 2D/3D combo in Gardenarium and Endless Express (Bernband did it too, but less so), and I really like it here.
Little Party was created by Ian Endsley and Carter Lodwick, with some lovely music from other folks, and is pay-what-you-want for Windows, Mac, and Linux from Itch.
When I played Little Party upon its release, I'd just returned from a road trip up through California and Oregon. We swam in a river winding through the redwoods, stayed in a house on the edge of a forest, stood on the shore of the roaring Pacific, and did I mention the trees? Little Party reminded me of the people and forest there I was missing, the uncertainty and creative haze I myself felt, and... I didn't know what to do with it then, and I don't know now, but I'll tell you about it so you can play.