There’s an untamed part of the brain. A room inside your head in which everything is possible: fruits discuss the depths of online philanthropy while eating each other; the arch-dentist reigns over the ranks of sentient duct tape reproductions of Ella Fitzgerald; time has colors and space has feelings.
This wild place is where you draw your imagination from — but beware! The door to this secret room must be kept at bay, or else the practicalities of life (like breathing, surviving in general) may get infected by the sheer nonsense your thoughts are capable of.
But different minds operate in different ways. One door may be oval, another squarish. The flux of this psychedelic goo can spread faster in some brains than others.
As a game designer and weird person myself, I am sometimes introduced to some bizarre, haunting and my-mind-has-been-turned-into-a-pomegranate games. Those experiences give me a beautiful Escherian portrait of their creators’ minds.
Yet, many times those crazy games don’t get the love they deserve. So I’m here to give some of them a little push.
Beware, mortal! Here you’ll not find your Marios and your pongs. Here is not the land of games that can be graded. If I were to review those games, I’d have to use expressions like “it felt like softly rubbing a piece of lemon against the legs of the goddess of fertility and death.”
For someone like me, they’re quite enjoyable.
(contains minor spoilers, no big deal)
Bullet hells. Here’s your spaceship shooting at the baddies. Pew pew pew. But hey what is that? Is it Aphrodite shooting deadly missiles out of her vagina to kill me?
This is a game like no other: the levels are inspired by jazz, the Kabbalah, Dia de Los muertos, tarot, C++ and so many other mish-mashed references that I can’t even begin to connect in my own brain.
Allegedly, it’s not the prettiest game ever, but what it has to offer is such a powerful plunge into the developers’ experiences and references. Gameplay is fresh, malleable and don’t shy away from doing stuff that a shooting game normally wouldn’t.
If you like this game, but sure to check out its solo dev’s portmortem. Good stuff.
(If you suffer from epilepsy, you’d better skip this one. This is not a joke.)
Let the saturated colors fool you not — there’s some dark humor in here! You explore this 90’s styled super psychedelic computer world taking to its inhabitants and resolving/creating conflicts around.
The thing I love the most about this game (or interactive zine, as the author puts) is that it’s bold enough to talk about some hard emotional topics such as suicide and depression.
It’s always a pleasure to see good humor in games — especially when it’s paired with other topics and not just jokes for jokes.
The studio is only about game, they’re also graphic designers and by the style alone you can tell. The minimalist graphics they chose to pair with the hypercomplex old oil paintings make this game a true aesthetic masterpiece.
On top of that, there’s a multi-ending, mind-bending narrative that made me explore so many rabbit holes after each playthrough. It’s a madman juice.
Oh, also it’s free.
As somebody who made a hipster game myself (but I guess those are weirder, don’t ask me), I can sort of reverse engineer the feelings that made those people work on games like those.
I know it won’t be everybody’s cup of tea.
But if you’re one of these people who — instead of daydreaming about conversations, worries, vacations — wanders to the lands where giant yellow snakes dance the tango with toasters… well, perhaps there’s some inspiration here for you.