Not so indie games :
The Beginner’s Guide by Everything Unlimited Ltd.—https://store.steampowered.com/app/303210/The_Beginners_Guide/
Another recent “classic” I neglected. Much digital ink has been spilled concerning this one, but I find it of utmost relevance in the current exponential mitosis of Unity-made indie games. I read a lot recently about the effect of the streaming economy on design choices and the neoliberal quest of recognition through social platforms (for creators and gameplayers alike), and The Beginner’s Guide is in itself a critical demonstration of the necessity to define a game making personal practice. While I won’t fall into the trap of interpretations, it will be a title I intend to revisit regularly.
Buddy Simulator 1984 by Not A Sailor – https://store.steampowered.com/app/1269950/Buddy_Simulator_1984/
Yet another metahorror game with retro aesthetic. Although this one has heart, a great sense of humour and minimal but spine-chilling set pieces. While I enjoyed the whole trip, the final sequence, whatever your ending, is brilliantly crafted.
Layers of Fear 2 by Bloober Team SA – https://store.steampowered.com/app/1029890/Layers_of_Fear_2/
While I never played the first LOF, I was curious to try out the sequel due to cinema being the central media. It’s a Bloober Team game so you know the drill, but I was genuinely impressed by the abstract storytelling and the horrifying set pieces. More than a passing wink to classic films, it imaginatively builds on cinematic tropes to push further an ambiance of malfeasance.
The Good Stuff :
Chasing Static by Headware Games – https://store.steampowered.com/app/1319420/Chasing_Static/
Despite an abrupt ending, this one mixes all the right ingredients for a classically grounded PS1 horror game with some nifty tricks of its own. My biggest complaint is the unevenness of the level design. While the village zone was an absolute thrill to explore, the other pale in comparisons. Nonetheless, it’s a great horror game with a lore that could definitely be expanded.
Hunter’s Path Rebirth by hwilson – https://hwilson.itch.io/hunters-path-rebirth
Addictive. Amazing design. Surprising level themes. I got hooked. On-foot shooter are my favourite arcade genre and it absolutely delivered.
My Computer Wants to Eat Me? by Wrath of Wood – https://wrath-of-wood.itch.io/my-computer-wants-to-eat-me
I did enjoy Buddy Simulator 1984, but what it had in expertise MCWEM have in originality and mindfuckness. Part walking sim, part puzzle/exploration, it goes beyond glitchy metahorror into alternate realities territory. The kind of game you feel the urge to return just to make sure you got everything.
Overtime (Demo) by Turnip_like – https://turnip-liker.itch.io/overtime
Another title in the recent cubicle-horror genre (Redtape, Tender Offer, Tzimtzum, etc.) which as mentioned before really feels weird since I’m homebound with the pandemic. This one spends more time exploring human dynamics where the spookiness usually hides. Cleverly written and designed, there’s one jump scares in particular that left me quite impressed. Kudos.
Presence by honeyboy jones – https://honeyboy-jones.itch.io/presence
While it’s a walking simulator, it feels a lot more like a very slow, very cryptic, very awe-inducing rollercoaster. Pure aesthetic thrill.
Shroud House by ravancloak – https://ravancloak.itch.io/shroud-house
Very cool mix between J-Horror aesthetic and RPG mechanic. Reminded me of Sweet Home with less management and more negotiations. There are some really inspiring visual ideas hidden in that mansion. Can’t wait for a bigger experience from ravancloak.
Sluggish Morss Pattern Circus by Jack Spinoza – https://jackspinoza.itch.io/sluggish-morss-pattern-circus
I said it before and I will say it again. Sluggish Morss is the most important, innovative, groundbreaking and thought-provoking interactive mixed-media art series ever made. This last opus confirms me. It’s a shame this is not more well-known as it could single-handedly impose world peace. I’m barely exaggerating.
Synchro by Mordred666 – https://mordred666.itch.io/synchro
Newcomer (I think?) Mordred666 kicks hard with this first game. Strong ambiance interspersed with poeticryptic video footage. I demand more.
Veins and Writhe by Valerie Dusk – https://valerie-dusk.itch.io/
A new duology of architectural dysphoria and body horror by the always great Valerie Dusk. Heavy dose of rusty malaise and tentacular spleen.
What We Had To Do by DancingEngie – https://dancingengie.itch.io/wwhtd
This is some brilliantly written stuff. The interactive equivalent of Brien Evenson short stories: dreadful and efficient.