2023-09-27: Stuff I Played Recently, or: Some Cool Indie Games You Probably Haven't Heard Of, But Like, For Real, Not Like Those Youtube Videos Where It's Spiritfarer And Stardew Valley And Other Games Literally Everyone On The Planet Has In Fact Heard Of
Double digit review counts, no mentions in the mainstream games press, or, in some cases, no mention even in smaller outlets or blogs - probably not going to be able to keep up this level of nicheosity, but with a title like that you know I had to bring the big guns.
Bit of a mouthful, huh? STBUIADOP is a strange little 3D RPG Maker adventure game, half atmospheric psychological horror and half comedy, presented in a surreal, disjointed, and somewhat hauntological style. The store page calls it an RPG, but, to be clear, there's no combat and no character building. You explore, talk to people, and solve some puzzles in the weird English(?) village of Vomit and, well... I shouldn't say much more. STBUIADOP is free, so you can find out for yourself.
Equal parts fascinating and frustrating, Mezzanine is a pre-rendered point and click adventure in the style of Myst, taking you through the offices of a mysterious multimedia company in the year WHY TWO KAY. The game is dripping
with atmosphere and style, the narrative itself centred around a sort of Deus Ex-style mishmash of (almost) modern technology and contemporary conspiracies. Unfortunately the interface is janky, the movement is hard to get used to, and the game itself is quite buggy - the saving/loading system seems to be broken, but fortunately the game can be completed in one sitting quite easily. I managed two different endings, but maybe you'll
find more????? (it's free btw)
Cosmic Top Secret is a super stylish 3D collectathon of sorts, where you roll your character around to collect items and interact with things using the shittiest mouse-only control scheme ever invented. But, bear with me, this is
still a recommendation. The game is actually a documentary about a woman investigating her parents' pasts as workers for the Danish Intelligence during the Cold War, with photos, documents, and interviews relating to their past and European intelligence work in general. The narrative (though it feels a bit weird to call it that, given it's non-fiction) is as much about her family relationship as it is about Intelligence, which might be a bit offputting if you're expecting something academic. I enjoyed it, though.
Fun little JRPG with some weak writing. The visuals and audio are polished and well-realised within the limitations of the game's retro aesthetics, and I found the item collecting-and-managing gameplay to be a lot more satisfying than most JRPGs I had played in the past. No mana pools or special moves here, all your dudes are armed with blickies and extremely deep pockets, so the gameplay revolves around optimising ammo and item use during fights. I enjoyed it, but didn't find it particularly challenging. The narrative, though... Eh. The game tackles nuclear war, pariotism, and other lofty concepts, but there's ultimately hardly any depth to anything. A thing happens, characters summarise how the thing impacted the trajectory of their character arcs, and you move on. Concepts are referenced
rather than explored
if that makes any sense.
ULTRAFUN is a troll game. It isn't afraid to screw with you a bit and waste your time in unexpected ways, but there's a whimsy and goofy personality to it that makes me really fond of it, despite its simplistic gameplay and lack of any sort of conclusion. The audio is chunky and satisfying, the humour is cheeky and fun, and the arcadey gameplay is still satisfying enough to have kept me engaged for a few hours despite the lack of any real depth. And it's free!
Eschaton is a fantastically atmospheric walking simulator, but... it's also about 30 minutes long. If you can stomach paying a few bucks (full price) for something that short, you'll get a surreal and foreboding ride through a Scottish manor where some weird Abrahamic shit is going down, and I won't say much more than that, because there's really not much more to say without getting into spoilers or analysis, and I don't do either.
Not games related, but I got into JoJo since my last post, and I'm afraid the brainrot is terminal. I now see JoJo references everywhere and everywhen, accompanied by the crippling urge to announce it to everyone around me. Please pray for my recovery.