I like a video game that tells me everything I need to know right there in the title. Like Bleakstead. Bleakstead is about a certain place, a stead, if you will, which is bleak. Thanks Bleakstead! It also has just incredible stars.
In Bleakstead, you accidentally oversleep and end up at the final stop on the bus, a tiny desert town at night. At the bus stop is a staticky figure who seems to be expecting you. When you speak to them, the camera pulls back to frame them within the bus station, sitting back casually, but after they finish speaking it snaps back to where you were before, which in my case was extremely close up to their nonexistent face. It made me jump. This is the sort of game that Bleakstead is; you will scare yourself playing it even though it does not go out of its way to scare you.
The bus station pal will point you in the direction of other areas of town and NPCs that you may want to speak to, who will point you onwards in turn, chaining into an exploration of increasingly weird things. You can also just wander around and stare at the sky, which is gorgeous. Everything in town is so functional and brown, as if someone built it to avoid the magical glittery TV static that lights up the heavens. But it’s inescapable.
I haven’t finished the game yet, mostly because I got distracted by the cosmos and also the wide expanses of desert. But that is worth your time anyway. Honestly, it would be worth it just for that pixelly effect that I love in quietly horror-adjacent atmospheric games like this, which just relentlessly exploits the fact that humans will see faces or figures anywhere if you give them half a chance. Happy October!
Bleakstead is available for pay what you want with no minimum on itch.io.