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Unreal Estate: A House In California

I just played this to completion after reading about it on the list of finalists for the IGF Nuovo award for "unconventional game development". A House In California is the story of a little boy who lives in a large house trying to get to sleep, which is about as effete an idea for a game as I've ever seen, and each chapter sees him being comforted by a different family member. Except our little boy already has one foot in sleep's murky puddle, so the whole experience plays out very strangely indeed. Download it here, play it in your browser here, and read a walkthrough here.

It's nice. Lovely, in fact. I enjoyed myself throughout. But I don't know how eager I'd be to give it an award for unconventional game development. I mean, in the face of some of the other nominees (Dinner Date, Nidhogg or B.UT.T.O.N.) A House In California's perfectly ordinary point'n'click mechanics stick out a bit, especially so since its surrealist setting manages to exacerbate the genre's trademark opaque puzzles. An award for unconventional development should go to somebody who successfully marries innovative game design with a unique setting and tone, no?

This is me, flinging my two cents into the void. Look, you've come this far. Have a video.

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Quintin Smith avatar

Quintin Smith

Former Staff Writer

Quinns was one of the first writers to join Rock Paper Shotgun after its founding in 2007, and he stayed with the site until 2011 (though he carried on writing freelance articles well beyond that). These days, you can find him talking about tabletop board games over on Shut Up And Sit Down, or doing proper grown-up journalism with the folks at People Make Games.