Road to Ruin lets you explore an aseptic industrial environment


As soon as I spotted Road to Ruin, I knew it was my kind of game, and I hope, that it will turn out to be yours as well. I love these experiences that don't seem to have specific goals nor duties of any sort, even because given the inexistent premises, it can be literally about anything in the end. This one though, was particularly surprising overall. So, now that I think I've finally caught all the wonders that need to be seen, I can finally tell you why you shouldn't miss this.

It's a slow paced first person exploration game developed for the Halifax Game Collective. The developer's idea behind it was to experiment with ways of communicating sensations non-verbally, which, he definitely succeeded at that. In fact, although we can't say what was exactly going on in his mind, Road to Ruin does a magnificent job at creating a grim atmosphere filled with sadness and solitude. Moreover, the colors have been another unusual element. The majority of the screen will be divided between black and a bright cyan, though later on, you'll get to see how disturbing it is when even some red particles will join the other two. Let's not forget, my eyes aren't the strongest ones, hence it might not give you any trouble after all.

You spawn almost in the middle of nowhere, and standing before you, there are some fascinating irregular buildings that can only be barely noticed. Evidently, that's the way you're headed. Treading the road delimited by an infinite series of sharp pillars, the surroundings will proceed to take shape revealing in the end an ambiguous industrial area. Clouds of smoke come out of giant rotating gears, they're imposing and intimidating once you stand right in front of them, and the metallic clanging becomes almost unbearable at a certain point. Nothing will happen, like you should've already understood, but just by slowly walking between the strange buildings you'll almost certainly enjoy your stay.

Expectedly, Road to Ruin ends just like it starts. All at once, which is anyway way deeper inside the area than what you might think, the level will simply abruptly end. You need the Unity plugin installed to play this on your browser, but aside that, you can try it on itch.io.

Dear RED, how will you make it end?


Although just about a hour ago I said that I wasn't going to write anything today, after giving a short glance to my folder of to-be-reviewed games Dear RED caught my attention. I was holding onto this for way too long already, and since it's also quite straightforward, I though that a quick article about this surprising experience by Lee Sang could totally be done.

Despite being made in RPG Maker, the game plays more like a visual novel. The interactivity is very limited, but when it's actually required to choose anything, stay ensured that it will matter a whole lot to the final outcome. Let's proceed by order though. The story starts off with the main character, Red, reflecting on how her poor mother got brutally murdered when she was just 6. And after many years, you learn who the killer was in unknown circumstances.

Turns out that Dear RED is all about revenge at this point, and the game will get more tense as soon as you'll be finding yourself right in front of the murderer's house. You're armed with a knife, and from there on, everything you're going to do will permanently affect the storyline. You can either break in, or be kinder to then backstab the man who killed your mother. Though in any case, what's going to make everything harder is learning about the murderer's ill daughter that's resting upstairs. It made me feel bad all of a sudden.

Let's be honest, I went through most of the endings in the end of the day. But the fact that it provoked a deep thoughtful moment on themes such as the importance of life, and death, is by far what I liked the most of Dear RED. Some paths may be significantly shorter than others. But if you really want to enjoy this at least as much as I did, I suggest you to behave just like you would truthfully do if you were in the shoes of the protagonist. It can be downloaded for Windows on Game Jolt!

SCARY MAZE, but it's not what you would expect


Ready for another round of eye-hurting, highly disturbing wandering? If this sounds like something you'd like to do right now, SCARY MAZE (yes, in all capital letters) by David is Neato has exactly the features mentioned above. It's weird, almost senseless if you consider that your goal consists in finding a glitch-like area to successfully win. However, like we also learned from Glitch Jam, people nowadays go crazy on games that behave strangely.

Here, you get thrown in a psychedelic labyrinth where at least in the beginning, you're going to have quite a few problems to recognize what are the walls, and in general, how to navigate flawlessly without bumping into corners. In fact, what's solid is made anyway of dynamic cubes that keep on expanding and shrinking as if they are actively breathing. In addition, the perfectly orchestrated animation comes also with a significant shifting in terms of colors that makes the visuals even harder to look at considering that the background is filled with a deep black.

The soundtrack comes with hard basses extremely in line with the experience overall. Which essentially, revolves around finding a way out of the maze without getting killed by horrendous mocking faces that will appear if you open one of the wrong doors pressing your E key. Other than that, the controls are the standard FPS ones and it shouldn't be hard to figure them out. Unfortunately, after having opened a lot of doors I found myself always chased by those weird creatures that crave for my blood. Therefore, I went back to the description and found out that "winning is falling". That's it, the only way to escape is to find the tiny hole on the glitched wall that makes you fall from the level. With your P key you can always restart the whole process, but since I made sure that there's nothing procedurally generated, finding the exit once again will be extremely easy.

You need the Unity web player installed to play SCARY MAZE online, and if that's your case, I suggest you to head over its Game Jolt page and enjoy it.

Data Stains, cleaning memories abstractly


This short article was meant to be published long time ago, back when I actually spotted the game. Though with the enormous backlog that I still have, there's nothing I can do other than slowly catching up sharing games that aren't that new anymore. I hope you don't mind. Even because I'm pretty sure that if you haven't already tried Data Stains by the french developer Titouan Millet, you'll end up by loving it.

It's an abstract interactive software, rather than a game. That's what I'd call this. But regardless of the pretty scarce gameplay that it's impossible not to notice, this weird experience gains a whole new meaning and feeling when you read the .txt file that will come alongside the downloaded folder. As a matter of fact, in Data Stains you play the role of a cosmic computer janitor that needs to clean memories of dead entities before they reincarnate. You're required to make sure that everything is gone before ending the process, otherwise, they will remember of their previous existences. Which, may not even be all that meaningful when you'll actually jump into the interactive part.

There's a square made of seemingly living cubic particles. With either right or left you're going to be able of making it explode to just then seeing it reassemble changing slightly colors a second after. It's a fascinating behaviour that experiment with flashing transitions, but to be honest, there isn't a lot more into it. Your spacebar will also turn the background black, creating even more fancy effects that I won't mind to stare for long minutes.

It's true, this is once again one of those extremely weird compositions that I can't understand whether anyone can really enjoy beside myself. Can anyone confirm that I'm not completely crazy? Data Stains is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux on its page on itch.io. Give it a good try because there are many images that will leave you breathless due to their strange beauty.

Vessel, a sequence of shocking images


Until a couple of weeks ago, I though that we wouldn't have heard the name of Jack King-Spooner for many months. As you might not know, in fact, after the successful Kickstarter campaign of his upcoming autobiographical RPG-ish Beeswing, he's supposedly been pretty busy working on it. However, I was wrong, and I'm glad I was, because pretty much out of nowhere, he came out with a potent stream of short freewares that I would consider controversial to say the least. Vessel is his last, and it's probably the one I've enjoyed to most.

I'm not sure, but I've possibly noticed a significant shift in focal themes as well as in general artwork in his latest games. Vessel for instance plays like a visual novel. Which it wouldn't honestly be anything worth to note if it wasn't for the highly disturbing story that's presented alongside the pretty explicit images. I've nothing against nudity in games, but what can be seen here, is just, difficult to handle considering the fast sequences of flashing images that will be shot at you throughout the whole experience.

The game is entirely played with your arrow keys, and accompanied by the self-composed, super unsettling soundtrack, you're going to watch a strange being going by the name of Vessel living his 25th birthday. Like the most of us, when you feel like you're really getting old, it's inevitable to think for a moment about all the good and bad memories that brings your mind back to the past. But it won't end like that, because aside the ominous transitions of the static backgrounds that keep on overlapping in the most unexpected manner, as soon as you'll be done with the past, a horrid discovery will haunt your present and future.

Your parents have fooled you for 25 long years. You're not what you've always thought, and suddenly, you'll get to see the main character taking a drastic choice that has left me speechless. I know that reading of this might make the game sound senseless, even boring, but that's only because Jack King-Spooner's games are just too surreal to be successfully described with bare words. There's an online version up on Game Jolt, and if you want, it's even available as a Windows standalone. Try it, then judge my ability of explaining why is this game so good.
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