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Flowers And Entropy In Free Game Menagerie

Awfully pretty

The fine folks at Oleomingus have released another curious little free game, Menagerie [official site]. Based on a script and performance by Prayas Abhinav, Vidisha Saini, and Agat Sharma, it's a gorgeous room filled with replicating men and deteriorating conversation. Pip and Alice had a look.

Pip: Alice, I feel like we've both drooled over Oleomingus screenshots and teasers and game snippets independently. What say we convene and discuss the leafy bathroom chat that is Menagerie TOGETHER? I'm launching it right now so I can tell you all about my favourite leaves, by the way.

Alice: Pip, a game about a chat which becomes increasingly incoherent sounds ideal for us. Also, it is the prettiest dang thing I've seen in a while.

Pip: I've had Oleomingus in my RSS feeds for a while now, simply because of the pleasure of looking at what they make. I've been excited about these leaves ever since they posted screenshots a few days ago. The plants that look like giant clovers are amazing. Also the ones which maybe are a bit like geraniums but are better than geraniums because geraniums are always disappointing.

Alice: It's the texture that lets geraniums down. They feel a bit 'nan's living room.' And colours always just a little too desaturated.

Pip: They lure you in with a promise of punchy red and then it's like when someone's invited you over and it turns out they went out last night as well so they're hung over and don't really fancy doing anything. That's the broken promise of geraniums.

Alice: Fuck geraniums.

Pip: Precisely. They should make this their tagline. "Menagerie: better than geraniums." Also, I think I've accidently walled myself into the bath with a collection of wooden men. See, there was only one man to start with and I started a chat with him before scampering off to explore more. Unfortunately this meant more chatty men spawned and now I am trapped with their incoherent chit chat forever. Is it a networking event?

Alice: The wooden men quickly spiral into nonsense as you spawn and leave more conversations, which does perfectly mirror my few experiences at networking events. Accidentally start chatting with someone, realise I don't care, dump 'em and go in search of a drink, then find the netchat increasingly gibberish as I power through the free fizzy wine.

Though I've yet to attend a networking event that'd let me try to cram as many people as possible into one bathroom. That's more house party territory.

Pip: Are you one of those awful people who hangs out in the bathroom with a posse and when I need the loo is all "go right ahead" without undraping yourselves from the tub or making any indication that you might, y'know, LEAVE?

Alice: I've seen things.

Pip: Well, that's your own fault. I do like watching these terrible men having their nonsensical chats with one another under the stern gaze of a deer head, though. It's no wonder I wanted to run around looking at everything – there are cool-looking valves and jars and cupboards and grasses to stare at while they jabber. You can also shove the main wooden guy around, pushing him towards the bath.

Alice: Oh, you're one of those house party people.

It is a fascinating scene. There's so much to poke out, so many evocative little items.

Pip: I particularly like the disarray – it's not a mess, but some chairs are overturned and one of the cupboard doors is open and grass is growing all over the place. It's forcefully alive even though you can't really interact with anything except the chat man.

Alice: It's gentle entropy. A little grass growing through the floorboards. A little disorder in the decor. And then things get messy.

Talking to the wooden man starts a conversation from a script, the two of you gabbing away about loops and states and surfaces and falling and football and fabulous hair. If you walk away, though, two wooden men will spawn to continue the conversation in a wonky, broken way. Then you can spawn more, and more, filling the room with gibberish and trapping yourself in the bath, Philippa.

Pip: Is the the part where I'm supposed to have learned a valuable lesson? Because, as usual, I haven't. But I did have a good time in that room.10/10. Would absurdist bath chat again. Swipe right on Tripadvisor.

Menagerie is a free download for Windows from Itch.io.

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Alice O'Connor avatar

Alice O'Connor

Associate Editor

Alice has been playing video games since SkiFree and writing about them since 2009, with nine years at RPS. She enjoys immersive sims, roguelikelikes, chunky revolvers, weird little spooky indies, mods, walking simulators, and finding joy in details. Alice lives, swims, and cycles in Scotland.