Hello every1! I know 21 days (pilots) into the new year is basically ancient history for the internet but that is only because ive been putting so much care into this list for you to read. What a better way to start the new year than to look back on *insert opening paragraph filler that leads into the content of the article*.
So forget about the new sex criminal in charge of u$a and enjoy some overlooked gems from the worst year of our lives! As jon blow once said: let the videogames begin!
You Are Weak
by Outlands Games
You Are Weak is a game in which you visit the inner worlds of frequents to a bar through games they have created. Here games do not exist as depressive hedonia but rather as alien communication devices. Arcane tools to archive the developers soul, to share the deepest parts of their psyche.
A central part of You Are Weak is prompts you recieve as a player throughout giving you instructions to perform irl (eg 'Ask for forgiveness, try it for real'). These deeply personal prompts vary depending on if you are alone or in a group but draw often upon regret, reflection and memories. What I admire about this is it makes the game incredibly conversational. As you explore the inner worlds of the NPCs you must also explore your own (and those of whoever may be playing alongside you). Injecting the lives of the players into the game itself renders this to be a uniquely personable experience, and I found myself to be quite moved by its end.
I replayed You Are Weak to prepare for this blog post and on my second time round being deep into the corona winter hell wurld I have to say: the setting of a bar, a game about community and learning the hopes and dreams of others, it all hits different now. I dunno, this game rules regardless but now its like a love letter to all the things we put on pause. I got a prompt in my second playthrough to look out the window and imagine its all gone. I don't know if Gabriel realised when he wrote that how little would have to be left to the imagination..
In a year where so many things were taken away from us we didnt even realise was possible I feel lucky to be in a community w the creator of this game, and grateful to be his friend. To know what he went through as he finished this requires a strength I cannot imagine.
Gabriel if you read this I hope one day we can go to a smokey bar again, and through a boozy haze dream of games once more.
Imo all the games in this list are must-plays, however if you only choose one, make it You Are Weak!
My GOTY 💖.
Half of my life is made out of dreams.
Download You Are Weak on itch.io
by Jeremy Couillard
Gosh... JEF.... Where to begin...
In JEF you are an alien who must find the acronym meaning of your name by traversing the galaxy. A standout section is when you visit an IKEA-like store where billionaires are being re-educated by aliens to build furniture. They all have withdrawals from their previous lives and say things like ‘I want to exploit loopholes in housing laws so bad’ while trying to read IKEA instructions. Another was when u have 2 find a ''''''share-economy'''''' scooter atop a pile of discarded ones to race in an aliens colosseum.
This game looks so beautiful, and has a soundtrack that I am guessing is all free stock music which gives it such a hilarious vibe.
Simultaneously sweet and cynical.
What does your JEF stand for?
Download JEF on itch.io
Download JEF on Steam
We Are Here Because Of Those Who Are Not
by Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley
Having different paths for cis, trans, and black trans identities meant my own experience felt incredibly personal, a message for me specifically. In this way it is similar to You Are Weak, the game being enriched by the player's own life experiences.
I would urge anyone, but especially black/trans people to play this game.
Visually stunning, heartbreaking, cathartic, empowering.
This game will stay with me forever.
Visit the Black Trans Archive
Super Bogus World 2
by Hubol and Oddwarg
Bogus World is absolutely massive, its kind of unbelievable. AND it features an entire Minecraft clone inside of it, so its a 2 for 1 deal!
Despite its scale SBW2 never has a dull moment, varying immensely in tone/difficulty/visuals with a charming world that unifies it all somehow. I really love all of the recurring characters - except that pesky Drummer who is always hounding me for unpaid drumming lessons
Also there is an endless amount of cocks in this game, which is neat if ur into that.
I died and went 2 heaven because Gone Fishing is so adorable I just can’t. This was me playing this game… 😭😭😭😻🤗🙏🥰🐋
Felt like a drawing a child would make that came to life <3
Download Gone Fishing on itch.io
An Empty Castle: Laputa
by Modus Interactive
I've never seen game development artifacts (such as incorrect depth and transform.scale misuse) used so expressively!
Empty Castle is not a horror game but a horror game. From separating each chapter to separate zip files to the shredded soundscape this felt like a haunted memory leak from some kind of unknown terror.
I was basically screaming in excitement while playing this 😹.
Download An Empty Castle: Laputa on itch.io
Interplanetary Flirtation Device
by Chloe Langford
Chloe has such a unique approach to games that I find so inspiring (imo) seeing them purely as they are: obfuscated software, interfaces.
In Interplanetary Flirtation Device we must learn to interpret the alien communications of a space snail using touch. The relationship between user and software is reversed and it made me think about the intimacy we experience with our devices, and how presently it’s a largely loveless affair. A relationship neither of us really remember why we started in the first place.
Videogames and eroticism pair very well, I look forward to Chloe’s future solo work!
Visit the Interplanetary Flirtation Device
Portals to an Enchanted Commons
Tfw 3 jpegs + a .wav is a richer sensory experience than a ps5 game.
A testament to the value of common spaces and folktales by Cobweaver aka the brilliant musician Yem Gel.
Portals to an Enchanted Commons is so pure and focused in its experience. A fantastic world portrayed in static images and soundscape leaves every part of this feeling so considered.
Wandering the magical cubemaps is particularly bittersweet given 2020 also coincided with the murder of early internet commons history in Adobe making Flash defunct and not releasing source code.
The power of the hypertext adventure lives on! Both in this and We Are Here Because Of Those Who Are Not above.
Visit Portals to an Enchanted Commons
Download Yem Gel's latest album on MediaFire
by Yuliya Kozhemyako and Margarita Skomorokh
And last but absolutely not least is this fantastic release from Russia.
Overseas takes the walking simulator format and builds upon it, each level having some kind of reimagining of the foundational concept of a capsule collider traversing a heightmap. Introspective and mysterious, I found Chernodyrsk level to be especially haunting.
This game also features perhaps my all-time fave main menu ever. Yuliya is the uncontested queen of Unreal-core.
Download Overseas on itch.io
Download Overseas on Steam
Well folx thats all she wrolx! If you like the collage of all these games thats in the background of this post you can download it here :)