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The best game you missed in April 2020: Vertigo

A little fall inside yourself

Back in late March/early April, I got to know all the corners and bits and pieces of my house a little better. There’s a small bit of wood chunk missing from the threshold into the kitchen, and a crooked staple in the doorway to my office. The golden afternoon light in my bedroom is unparalleled, but the light in my office before 10:00 is perfect for getting work done - bright enough without too much glare. I even took some time to clean and bleach the grout on my kitchen floor. 

I originally played the Bitsy game Vertigo around that same time: back at the beginning of quarantine. In April, those halcyon days where the idea of isolation was somewhat novel. Magma Subterraneo made Vertigo as a part of the Bitsy Isolation Jam, which sought to explore all the various feelings of isolation via the medium of Bitsy. In it, you explore bits of your (or the dev’s?) apartment. You reminisce on various objects until you, very literally, begin to float away.

Perhaps you’ve spent long enough in your own home that the idea of exploring someone else’s feels refreshing.

Developer Magma Subterraneo described the game in its initial release as the product of overthinking: “I'm always kind of an overthinker, but these days of Isolation have had me in a hyper-contemplative mood. I wanted to do something close to what's been roaming in my head, mostly to let it out (this to say I'm sorry if it gets weirdly personal). I know I'm not the only one who feels vertigo when they look inside too much.”

Taking a look back at a Bitsy game written at the beginning of the pandemic, especially one as personal as this one, feels a bit like looking at someone’s diary entry. Many Bitsies can serve as a representative slice of their creator’s life - due, perhaps, to their relatively quick turnaround time. Regardless of their content, a Bitsy becomes a snapshot of a time period - like a Polaroid photograph. Fairly quick to develop, and personal.

I wonder if the developer has spent the past nine months figuring out what they want to do with their life, if they ever got their backpack fixed, if they ever did get a chance to see their friends from other countries again. I wonder if I’ll remember to give the game a play again come next April, to remember what those early days of the pandemic felt like. It’s important to give yourself leeway to be a little introspective and personal every now and then - you never know when you’ll want to look back at it again.

Bitsy games often get released under the radar, so if you haven’t made time to play Vertigo yet, I suggest giving it a shot. It only take a few minutes to play, and is one of the best ones out there. And, si usted prefiere, you can play the game in Spanish here.

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Nintendo Wii, PC

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About the Author
Kat Brewster avatar

Kat Brewster


Kat Brewster is a sometimes writer, sometimes game designer, and most-of-the-time academic based out of the University of California, Irvine. Kat's research focuses on play, the future of digital work, and queer archives. You can reach out on Twitter @katbamkapow.