First-person ant sim. Metal detector on a clay beach. "Clotslugs: Spend most of their life as adolescents, until they mature, turning half-way inside out."
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Beachcomber by Mason Lindroth
Such a relaxing beach. The clouds are like custard and the grass is fat tendrils of waving clay.
I’m a beach comber with a metal detector. When the detector is going wild, I press space to discover the secret.
There are three endings, all super different. Beachcomber goes in so many directions: contemplative, surreal, chill, violent. The sand leads everywhere. I'm interested in the way Mason links seemingly unrelated zones through clever means--in the sand there is an eye, in the eye there is a ladder, climb the ladder into the brain of a kaiju, and suddenly you're attacking a city. These dreamlike portals.
our god lives underground by Andrew Shouldice
I trudge across the sand and enter the ruin. The topdown view feels like something is watching me. This perspective is alienated from a human one by the snowy static, making me think of the clinical eye of a security camera or the inhuman vision of an omniscient being.
It should go without saying, but certain comments on the LD page are ignorant--wanting OGLU to be a dungeon crawler or have exposition would align it with the conformity that already pervades Ludum Dare.
I descend, traveling through the bowels of something ancient and unspeakable. The shadows and lighting are exquisite. I hear occasional grinding sounds that could be creaking door or crumbling stone or hungry monster (I love ambiguous soundwork in horror games, the way it promises everything and reveals nothing).
The amphibians are great. There should be more uncertain creatures in games--ones where you aren't sure if they will attack or not. Those are always the scariest.
I feel like a sacrifice in a long line of sacrifices. The title says "our" god. I am aware of and worshiping this presence. I am here to be consumed. This dread is not spoiled by exposition. Everything is evoked.
nocturne by finny, caitie daphtary
From Wikipedia: “A nocturne...is usually a musical composition that is inspired by, or evocative of, the night.” Night is a set of apertures. Nothing is visible unless it is illuminated. The default is to be invisible. Nocturne creates a vast field of blank space filled with music. It uses text as an aperture to shine upon parts of the music, revealing human context: the struggle of the performer and the watcher.
You can perform or watch.
We think of listening as a passive activity. It is common to erase or reduce the passive recipient in many acts. But to listen is to be the partner in a dance which cannot exist without you. At one juncture you can refuse the music entirely and go home to do something you care about. Maybe someone else’s beauty is not your beauty. Maybe it overwhelms. Maybe seeing beauty reminds you of the lack of beauty in your own life. Maybe you need to create your own.
Nocturne isn't afraid to do away with text completely and let the music speak for itself. These generous spans of blank space carry themselves proudly. It's almost like the text is scoring the music, not the other way around. At one point the text gently tells you: “you close your eyes”. And I did close them, and it worked. The music carried me along and I knew when it was time to open them again.
I find it beautiful how the text so delicately enshrines the music, teasing it along and providing bold, breathless junctures. Filigree scaffolding on a colossal soundwave, the power to control aural tides.
The Westport Independent by Pontus Lunden, Kristian Brodal
The Westport Independent is about censorship, combining elements of The Republia Times and Papers Please. Unlike Republia Times where you combine articles into a newspaper, this has you editing the articles themselves, censoring whatever you deem unfit for the new regime (or you can do the opposite, of course). A meter tracks the rebel and loyalist reaction to your decisions (the Independent part of the newspaper's name becomes a wry joke against these pressures).
Everything is PR. Everything is spun. Everyone's truth is the truth most favorable to them. Even that which we associate with objectivity (statistics, units of measurement, maps, etc) are ultimately derived from a culture dominant enough to standardize them. There is no platonic form of information, everything is filtered through humans and institutions. The Westport Independent turns you into the filtration system.
World of Friends by Kitet
"You are Kid. You usually aren’t allowed to go outside, but your Sis has gone missing! So you set out on a little adventure to find your Sis."
This is a light RPG where you walk around having cute funny conversations in various zones. The walking animation is adorable, I flap my sweater sleeves up and down like a little bird!
"Not to brag, but I grow the finest moss in this forest. My friends tell me it's the best, and everyone is my friend."
Watch out, some people will eat you! Save often in preparation for these terrible citizens, or maybe notice the skulls outside their door. I got GAME OVER multiple times because I was too trusting. World of Friends has a sly sense of humor.
The game includes a folder with art of the characters and races, with a special emphasis on their dietary choices. This is important considering that some of them will eat you.
"Gnargnar: Small, angry. Carnivorous. Hates everything because the entire species can't stop being cute."
Ant Simulator 2014 by eteeski
“Objective: Just explore, relax, enjoy being an ant.” 8)
I like the wide field of view and the bouncy, fast movement. Ants are supposed to be fast! In a directionless, wandering game like this, the feel is especially important, and this has a good feel.
Hanging out with other ants is cute, I feel very sisterly with them, on our way to some presumed food source that we fill our crops with and take back to the nest. It would be so great if this were expanded and you could gather food and explore and milk aphids and attack other ant tribes. The sense of pride at seeing my colony swarm below me as I zip up a leaf gathering honeydew from aphid anuses, the chaos of battle as I tear apart enemy ants with my mandibles, fucking ant princes in mid-air, a process where the queen swoops away from her suitors so only the quickest most virile mates can catch her, at which point she initiates fuck plan, i.e. "the male literally explodes his internal genitalia into the genital chamber of the queen and quickly dies." Anyways ants are the best! More ant games!