Surreal climbing: Five Nights at ▲

Takorii's Five Nights at ▲ can be barely called a game. Which, now that I think of it, it's exactly why I chose to feature it in the first place. When it comes to trying out one of his games, I'm always hesitant, as often times, you need to be extraordinarily open-minded to enjoy them.

It doesn't belong to any kind of genre, of that I'm sure. It's a pretty piece of software that moreover, doesn't take more than a minute to be done with it. The soundtrack provided by IsYourGuy is soothing, which combined with the bright low-res visuals, makes the game a pleasing experience without the involvement of any challenging mechanic. The color palette shifts between gradations of purple and different, duller colors, but despite the sudden changes, they don't end up by being disturbing.

You control a white, extremely pixelated cat stranded on a triangular structure that constantly rotates. You can move around with WASD, the Spacebar makes the tiny creature rest, and by pressing the E key, it emits a squeaky meow. After a while, though, meowing adds another block under the cat's feet. The area in which you can move, as a result, becomes less and less. That, when the game lets you, can be done for five consecutive times. And upon reaching the fifth, a win message will be displayed.

I felt incredibly accomplished regardless of the non-existent effort I've put into reaching that point, and if you have the chance to try it, I'm sure you'll love it as much as I did. Five Nights at ▲ can be downloaded for free for Windows machines.

Deep down in the ocean: Narcosis

I've got to be honest here, I discovered Narcosis just a couple of days ago. Chances that you've heard already of this exciting upcoming game are high, as its freshly released trailer managed get quite a lot of attention of major gaming websites. However, since I like to think of Creepy Gaming as an immense directory of indie games that are somewhat unsettling, I decided to feature it regardless.

Honor Code, its development team, refers to it as a survival story. It features indeed elements of psychological horror, but what seems to be the key concept here, is that Narcosis has a very likely storyline that doesn't involve the supernatural. Even though the Oculus Rift isn't required, it's hard to imagine a better game to try it out with. As a matter of fact, in Narcosis you play as an industrial diver lost in the depths of the Pacific Ocean. The idea of being stuck in a suit with limited oxygen, with the surface being so distant, terrifies me, and with a VR tool, it might become just too much to handle.

An unclear disaster has buried yourself under tons of metal scraps and rubble, which results in the environment being completely dark due to the lack of sunlight. The goal, of course, is to find a way through that deadly trap that leads to the surface, but aside the difficult exploration, there will be one more thing that will make your life even harder. The oxygen, as it's been already mentioned, is extremely limited, and I couldn't understand whether there will be a replenishment system. Moreover, there's also your self control that needs to be taken into account. Panicking depletes your resources twice as fast, and running into something that might scare you, is bound to happen many, many times.

Narcosis should come out next year sometime around Autumn. If you want to be always up to date with the development, I suggest you to keep an eye on its website, and the other on the game's official Facebook page.

Vernacular: point & click & drag narrative

When Da Neel comes out with a new game, I start to wonder what is going to make it as unique as his previous ones. This developer, somehow, manages to keep his experiences fresh in every regard, including art, gameplay, and storytelling. Vernacular is his last one, and by far, my favourite. Sometimes, I know, I get too excited. But I need you to believe me when I say that I had never seen anything quite like it.

It's a point and click browser game that uses extensively the drag & drop system. When it loades, you're presented a picture that asks you to let it slide in order to start things off. It's hard to get the hang of this core mechanic, but as soon as you realize that you're playing with a series of photos distributed neatly in three rows, you should also be able to figure out the order in which you're supposed to go through them.

The next issue, then, is to actually understand how to get the storyline going. The first row of sketchy photos drawn in white over a purple background suggest that you're witnessing a murder case. But moving forward, the next ones are simply blank. It's at that time that I learned that you can also interact with the items displayed in the snapshots. Often times, it's going to be all about collecting something that stands out from a picture, to then use it in the one that sits next to it. There's a door in the middle of the interactive grid, and the ultimate goal is to fill the four holes in it with items collected in the other scenes.

It's likely that you haven't really understood how does Vernacular play. Partially, it's my fault, but it's also undeniable that this is definitely something that can't be explained that easily. Most of the interactions with the accessible photos, unlocks the ones towards the end. But unlike what I was hoping, the story becomes even more intricate than how it was in the beginning. If you ask me if I liked Vernacular the answer will be affermative, the way in which the initial layout changes thanks to your actions is fascinatig. However, due to the effort I've put in completing it without checking the walkthrough provided by Da Neel, catching the true meaning of it has been impossible, to me.

You can play it on Game Jolt for free.

Self is an explicit point and click horror adventure

You should know me. When it comes to point and click adventures, I don't feel completely comfortable. Sometimes, I feel like my mind isn't entirely capable of performing fully fledged logical processes. But since you're probably much better at them, today I chose to feature the rather unique Self, developed by Aslan Game Studio. The game, has a weird vibe, and it's been also interesting to learn the uncommon development process that brought it to life.

Unlike what I was expecting, Self is built using 3D scenes created in the Source engine, and made interactive through the Adventure Game Studio (an engine that works with 2D only as far as I know). Probably, it's because of this discrepancy that often times, the game feels a little clunky. But that's not a big deal, as in return, offers a smooth gameplay as well as an unique progress system.

Self's plot, however, is the one that's really out of the ordinary. You play as a man who's struggling with severe mental illness, it's unclear what's really the problem, but because of this condition, you chose to lock yourself in a tight basement. A lot of time has passed since supplies and medications have been sent down there, you're alone, and you spend most of your time self-harming with a rusty scissor. Another interesting feature is the orchestral music, it isn't original, but I've learned at my expense that it perfectly suits the horror atmosphere.

As I anticipated, in a couple of occasions I felt like I couldn't figure out a way to move forward. That, is when your body may need to take a pill. By doing so, the music slows down, the images become significantly brighter and after a much needed nap, you will be able to do things you couldn't, before. For instance, the terrifying dark bathroom becomes not that threatening anymore, so that you may enter and look around. Unfortunately, sleeping causes also your mind to race faster than the usual. Which will produce nightmares composed by bone-chilling animations together with pictures that don't seem to be involved with the game at all.

Several download links can be found on the official site, it's free, so trying it out should be really a no-brainer.

Treacherous, go through your last moments of life

Global Game Jam 2013 ended like, more than a year ago. Though regardless of when was the competition, I stumbled upon Treacherous only earlier this week. As you may know already, I always prefer to choose the games to share here among the newer ones. But from time to time, if I feel like I found something that's been majorly overlooked, writing down a little piece on it doesn't hurt anyone, in the end of the day.

It's a first person, interactive story, more or less. It can be played directly in your browser and the theme of the jam for which it's been made, was "heartbeat". The appearance is by far what I liked the most here. Treacherous, in fact, looks like a ruined black and white film, which, given the story, turned out to be an overly appropriate effect. Here, you take the role of the spirit of a just assassinated man that wants to figure out who's the killer. To do so, you will have to simply walk back through the rooms and corridors of your home that lead to the place where you've been killed.

However, while exploring, time will go backwards showing you short scenes of your last moments of life. Your body, was definitely having fun from what I could understand, but the first thought that ran through my mind, was that you could've been killed by none other than your partner. As you go back in time, the doors close themselves abruptly. In more than an occasion, the sound of them shutting, together with the shadows of the people that used to be in the room you just entered, caught me off guard. There isn't anything scary by any means, but knowing that you might find youself facing the potential murderer, keeps anyway the atmosphere rather tense.

All in all, you can play it entirely in a couple of minutes. Watching things literally changing place in a matter of a heartbeat (which are rather loud and well marked), has been surreal to say the least. Which means that you should definitely try it on Game Jolt for free!
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