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Explore, deform, and reform textures in Softfriends

Only a little like insects under your skin

"This is a pretty thing," our Adam said in the RPS treehouse today when he pointed out ,,,softfriends,,, (hereafter referred to as Softfriends because come on). It's a little doodad rolling above interesting textures which ripple and reform, controlled by two bulging lumps running under the landscape (the distinction between texture and landscape is only a matter of scale, isn't it?). It is a pretty thing.

"Finally, a game about insects crawling under my skin," I replied, because apparently I ruin everything. I have played Softfriends, though, and it is nice. It is a little skinsectile, between the droning sound and my controller buzzing in my hands, but it is nice.

Our view pans endlessly across textured surfaces which don't seem to be anything specific but have at times reminded me of everything from forested mountains and lonely mesas on plateaus to fantastic cities and, yes, skin. We run our thumbs across these landscapes through our controller's two thumbsticks, which control two little bumps that distort the landscape as it rolls over them. It's pleasant to try to spot them, learning a texture's pattern and watching for their distortions. They rumble the controller to buzz our hands as they move and more so when they draw closer.

"It suggests understanding space by feeling with eyes and joysticks for variations in the surface," developer Thomas Newlands says, and I like that.

Smash the two bumps together and ploop! they end in a lovely ripple as the landscape morphs into something new and bumps respawn appear somewhere else. For a movement, it's quiet and calm, then on and on we go. It is quite nice.

I have also enjoyed having the two lumps chase each other but not meeting, the droning sound and the buzzing controllers rising and falling.

Softfriends is available on Itch.io, pay-what-you-want with a suggested price of $1.11 and no minimum. It does need a 64-bit version of Windows and DirectX 11. It does support keyboards but I really would recommend playing with a controller. It wouldn't be the same without my hands buzzing along with the droning in my ears.

Also, I feel slightly dizzy when I stop playing, my eyes and sense of momentum still caught in the landscape I have now left. I consider that a bonus.

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Alice O'Connor

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When not writing news, Alice may be found in the sea.

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