Ens by JonaLouis—https://jonalouis.itch.io/ens
Disorienting and cryptic exploration of Tsutomu Nihei-esque architecture. Ens is a spatial puzzle I failed to decipher in which seems to hide a horrific tragedy.
The Last Spin by Sticc— https://stickhaha.itch.io/the-last-spin
The best videogame adaptation of the film 13 Tzameti on the market.
Video-Balls by videodream— https://videodream.itch.io/video-balls
Therapeutic interactive datamoshing of soothing visuals.
Cleaving Caliber by hwilson— https://hwilson.itch.io/cleaving-caliber
The description mentions an Arkanoid/Silent Scope crossover, but it’s less Silent Scope than Rescue: The Embassy Mission. I usually skip NES retro takes, but this one is brilliant. Unfortunately, it’s too short and deserving of support for an entire release.
Out of the Blue by Bozó Attila Bertold — https://atis1.itch.io/out-of-the-blue
This minimal sci-fi dungeon-crawler fully exploits its mood of abandonment and mystery. The gameplay is as simple as it is tightly knit, making every slight progression and discovery incredible.
Phantom Frame by joespacio — https://joespacio.itch.io/phantom-frame
Incredibly addictive arcade take on Fatal Frame photographic combat. Joespacio nailed the progression trees’ reward/punishment, making each run fantastically unique.
Somnosec by specium — https://specium.itch.io/somnosec
Horrifying anti-Pac-Man toying with our cognisensory and spatial orientation limits. The anxiety deliciously builds up to a brilliant negative climax.
The Portraits by HunterN — https://huntern.itch.io/the-portraits
It’s a short, efficient horror title. But the eponymous portraits are the stars here and bring the game to a whole different dimension.
#19: The World by lsddev— https://lsddev.itch.io/19-the-sun-alpha-demo
This will clearly never leave Alpha, which is unfortunate. lsddev injects FPS mechanics in its singular take on the LSD format (see the complex, joyfully broken, and awe-inducing #21: The Sun). Personally, there’s a lot of inspiration to get from the worldbuilding of this (lost and forgotten?) game dev.
Monuments To Guilt by Louis— https://louisthings.itch.io/monuments-to-guilt
Necessary art gallery/documentary about exclusionary design. Exploring the products of hostile urbanism side by side reveals the horror of this engineering practice. Also, fantastic choice of camera perspective and aspect ratio.
Shared Visions Wandering Artist — https://wandeer.itch.io/shared-visions
First of all, the soundtrack is extraordinary. Although the interface reminds me of MacVenture games, it has its own personality, fully complementing the narrative of this interactive fiction. Shared Visions is as short as enjoyable, inciting to come back to discover the two endings.
OTHER GAMES PLAYED
Live A Live (Switch) – I only allow myself to dig into a JRPG when I’m rushing through work/academia. I unwrap one if I know I will be busy for several weeks without mental availability to learn new game mechanics. Live A Live, with its “choral film” approach, offers multiple interesting takes on the classic JRPG formula, including stealth and treasure hunting. They are uneven, from extraordinary to fastidious, but culminate in one of the most epic, monstrous, and fascinating final chapters, them being a whole new game in itself. Discovering all the secrets and mysteries is dizzying, and I probably only scratched the surface. It reminded me a little of Fear & Hunger, with more strategic combat. Bonus points: the pixel art and music are top.
Farpoint (PSVR) – Bought a used PSVR with a pile of games only to remember (the last one broke a few years ago) I get nauseous after 30 minutes. It took me almost 3 months to finish this game, but it acted as training to endure longer playtime (I can now take about an hour). This was mainly caused by the hectic combat (it’s a shame the Aim Controller was not fully exploited), a variety of weapons, and types of enemies to exterminate with high haptic pleasure. Not the most adrenaline-fuelled gun violence simulator available on the platform, but thoroughly enjoyable. The story is absolute rubbish tho.
Signalis (Switch) – Again, with the Tsutomu Nihei reference, it’s unavoidable. Isometric cyberpunk take on Silent Hill 2 with the best/relevant cutscenes I witnessed in recent years. Despite lots of bullshit backtracking due to sadistic/useless inventory limitations, the lore is intriguing, cryptic, and juggling between melancholia and horror. Audiovisually stunning.