Pivot States

And yet I go nowhere… (Split Reality)

Posted on May 14, 2014 by Leave a comment


I’m sorry you feel that way…” – developer’s comment
[download via Game Jolt]

Another heavily-stylized 3-dimensional walking simulator entry in to lowrezjam? Who would image that I’d like it? Between this and Strangethink‘s The Pyramid Gate, the jam has produced a really unique graphical style that I’d be very happy to see emulated elsewhere. Blah blah, yeah there’s not much to “do” in Split Reality‘s exploration piece, but the presentation of the environment is beautiful and pleasant . Which is sort of funny about a game that is apparently about escaping from cosmic prison – a key plot element which is awesomely only explained in the ominous “Instructions.txt” file packaged with the game.

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The Pyramid Gate (Strangethink)

Posted on May 7, 2014 by 1 Comment


Visually spectacular, couldn’t figure out what I was exactly doing though.” – Game Jolt comment
[play online]

Probably my top lowrezjam entry so far, even though it doesn’t strictly stick to the rules (I think you’re supposed to do old-school pixel movement). But rules are generally pretty terrible any way, and The Pyramid Gate is decidedly not terrible. Wander around one of the most uniquely-rendered landscapes you’ve seen in a game. Yeah, interactivity is limited, but whatever – this is a game made in 24 hours that’s largely in compliance with some pretty strict guidelines. It’s a prototype. But Strangethink, this is a phenomenal graphical style. Please make a full game like this.

UPDATE: I am wrong and dumb and don’t understand sub-pixel movement. This actually complies with the rules of the jam. See Strangethink’s comment below for details.

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Afterwords (zin)

Posted on May 4, 2014 by Leave a comment


I think too many of the endings end in death.” – developer’s description
[download via Game Jolt]

Afterwords is a minimalist adventure game played in a tiny window with only two buttons – “yes”, and “no.” It has about a million different paths that, in my experience, all end with the death of the narrator. Based on Zin’s description, it’s probably not intentional, but I call upon the powers of Barthes: down to is title, Afterwords is a pretty excellent commentary on the futility of choice in games – while at the same time subverting its commentary by creating, with only two buttons, a far more interesting choice dynamic than your standard-fare epic choice-based games. I had much more fun driving the little game’s main character to their violent death in countless ways than I had saving the world with or without facial scarring in Fable Effect 3: Brotherhood. Some times choices don’t have to be epic – some times it’s just “yes” or “no”.

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It’s Not Me, It’s You (Binary Solo)

Posted on April 29, 2014 by Leave a comment


once I finished and played your game, it wasn’t hilarious at all… it was way creepy.” – player comment

Inspired by Rob Lach’s Pop Methodology, the Binary Solo crew decides to make a game while driving to visit him in a van. In doing so, they create the world’s first “second-person shooter”. You’ll guide your character from a sort of found-footage perspective – the camera’s in front of their face, their cone of vision only visible in their reflective sunglasses. The game is really just a prototype, having been made during a car trip (you can watch Binary’s entire process in a short doc they’ve posted, it is absolutely worth a look), but the game that’s there so far is still a cool reversal on the dynamics of the shooter genre. They speak a bit about making the character’s face expressive of the horrors of combat – this hasn’t really translated to the game in full just yet, but watching your character’s expression shift from lip-biting fear to aggression as they swing their axe is as silly as it is horrifying. I can’t wait to see where this game goes.

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Bornard (Tom van den Boogart)

Posted on April 28, 2014 by Leave a comment


this is cool, I especially enjoyed pressing the buttons.” – Game Jolt comment
[download via Game Jolt]

One of my favorite Ludum Dare 29 entries. Seems heavily influenced by Another World in terms of it’s fluid, silly animation and simple, brutal shooting. Bornard walks through a drab, earth-toney environment, presses a button, rides a tram, finds a gun in an elevator, shoots people for no reason, and then drinks a beer and gets hit by a plane. It’s the purest distillation of “video games” in their essential form – but tropes can be made fun again if they’re presented in an interesting way. I’d love for this to be turned in to a full game.

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Morning Coffee (Animal Phase)

Posted on April 25, 2014 by Leave a comment


Is there supposed to be another ending or something?” – Game Jolt comment
[play online]

There’s probably more to this game that I can’t find, but I’m not really inclined to look for it. As often as I praise games for having completely indecipherable and unique mechanics that have to be discovered through careful thought and slow, precise play, Morning Coffee is great because it is completely accessible and universal. It’ll show you it’s one-button control scheme for about three seconds before turning you loose with that familiar mug, those familiar keys in that familiar apartment with the familiar view. Morning Coffee is great because it doesn’t need instructions. It channels, it perfectly becomes a distillation of that universal morning experience. I wandered around for a moment after checking my phone (and it really is my phone) wondering what I needed to do next, do I need to get dressed, do I need to feed the cat, but then I saw the keys and experienced the same “oh, that’s why I’m in the kitchen” moment that I really experience almost every day of my life. I feel like Animal Phase will inspire a ton of bandwagoners, there will be a jam’s worth of little poem games which try to capture a reality in the same way, but I don’t think that it will ever work again.

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Momentum (Ultralab)

Posted on April 24, 2014 by Leave a comment


no skill :>” – Twitter comment
[play online]

This game is probably one of the most calming things that I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. It’s a pre-alpha so interactivity is somewhat limited. However, Ultralab has posted some real pretty videos showing what the game will hopefully look like once it’s complete. And, while gameplay is king, some times you really just want to relax and listen to some really excellent sound design, and see some really beautiful, fantastic sights.

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Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain (Andrei Mishanin)

Posted on April 22, 2014 by Leave a comment


it hard to understand what’s going on in the game for players :) ” – developer’s Twitter
[play online]

Don’t be intimidated by the full-page control reference page which opens the game, it’s actually not that complex – kill and grow as per usual, the two classic elements of gameplay. What makes ROYGBIV, kind of a shootier Starseed Pilgrim, really unique is its excellent pivot-centered design. The game is played in two pivots, the “fight” phase (BATTLE!) and the “chill” phase (PEACE!). This makes for a dramatic player experience, creating anticipation during the moments leading up to the pivot shift. Other genius design elements: the shifting height of the columns draws enemies toward your weakest color spectrums, the lowest levels accumulating the most attackers, as your assailants only move in two dimensions. In this way, a momentary weakness in one column is immediately intensified, forcing the player to balance yet another constantly-shifting pivot. One of the best-balanced games that I have ever played.

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Mibibli’s Quest (Ryan Melmoth)

Posted on April 21, 2014 by Leave a comment


“over 7 bit” – developer’s description
[download via itch.io]

Mibibli’s Quest is the kind of game that you wanted to make after you first picked up a Sega controller, or after you wrote your first line of code. It’s that first game idea you ever had, grandiose and impossible, a ridiculous combination of every cool concept available – except, it actually exists. It’s that game you gave up on making, the game you abandoned to instead start small, finish something for a change. And then years later, you pore over your earliest Game Maker projects, reminiscing about how unrealistic your earliest ideas had been. Ryan Melmoth has made that game. It’s creative, it’s funny, and it’s comfortingly difficult – hard in the way that those old Genesis games were, hard in the way that made you want to come back and try to get just a little farther, like when you first learned Mortal Kombat or Sonic. Add to that some truly silly level design, layered with unique puzzles, enemies, and assets which are only ever used a couple times each, and you’ll certainly find Mibibli’s Quest to be the most likeable game you’ve had the privilege to enjoy in a long while.

P.S. This is also apparently the guy who made Delirious Bird, my favorite entry of the Flappy Jam!

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Patrick (Michael Ztul)

Posted on April 20, 2014 by Leave a comment


Ask a friend to play and then compare notes.” – developer’s description
[play online]

A short meditation on human fungibility and mass-individuality as related by a Gene-Wolfean narrator, with varying degrees of reliability. Patrick‘s interactivity is limited but, much like its developer’s previous interactive-fiction offering, My Father’s Long, Long Legs, the narrative takes advantage the mechanics of the Twine medium to emphasize the story’s themes in a way that wouldn’t be possible in traditional fiction. Meaning, of course, that we get some slight randomization, branching hyperlinks, hyperlinking for emphasis and so on.  Ztul thinks his story is “vaguely sinister,” but while it’s certainly disconcerting, it’s not truly dark. If the union’ll let me use two author’s names as adjectives in the same post (and they certainly will, because literary games require literary comparison), Patrick is more Kafkaesque than sinister – it’s only threatening in its embrace of alienation.

It’s also kind of funny if you read it sideways as a response to the classic criticism, “waah!! All Twine games are the same!”

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