Gaming

Feature: The Indie Games Weirdspo and Revue: April 2017

April has ended. March is upon us. How quickly does a quarter of a year dissolve in our hands? We’ve been upsettingly busy getting settled into our new offices, so we haven’t had as much time to explore the weird corners of games as we might have liked. And yet, here we are, with some more recommendations for you. 

The Sexy Brutale

This game is aces. It’s kind of like an Agatha Christie murder mystery but made a bit weirder and sexier (although to be honest in about half the Christie mysteries sex factors into the motive somewhere). So, in true murder mystery style you play as a priest, and are trapped in a mansion repeating the same 12 hours over and over again, as the other guests are continually murdered. Each time you work out how to save one of them you can progress a bit further. 

The rest of the cast are intriguing, and have their own secrets, or sad and suspicious pasts, and most everything is very well designed — from the different rooms, sounds, and lighting, to the interwoven stories you could uncover. It would be nice if, as you crept around places you shouldn’t, there was more consequence to being caught, but then given what happens to everyone else in The Sexy Brutale the consequences would most likely be very horrible. It’s out now on PC and consoles.

What Remains of Edith Finch

Edith Finch shot2

Colm thought Edith Finch was really really good. It’s one of those first person experience type games, like Gone Home, but also plays with the conventions of first person experience games (shakily established though they are). Colm loved the story, and the different ways the game communicates it, but it’s a hard game to talk about without spoiling it. You can read his review for more effusive praise. You can grab it on PS4 or PC.

Antihero

indie games April 2017

Antihero is a very stylish, but very sneaky, turn based game about being a master thief. Your aim is to control the city and get more victory points than your opponent. Said points are procured by stealing nice things, blackmailing churches, assassinating people, and so on and so forth. And so you have to balance whether you want to put resources into gangs, who can strongarm people, or urchins who can occupy buildings and get you more resources, or the other units that provide counters to your enemy’s tactics. It’s like a cool Victorian-themed board game, but on your computer. 

Now I know what you’re about to say. ‘But Alice, you already wrote a superb preview of Antihero!’ Well yes, imaginary reader with good taste, I did. Antihero isn’t technically on full release until July. But you can buy a first access version of it right now, if it looks like your sort of jam. 

Spaceplan

indie games April 2017

This started off as a web browser game, which I played to completion. This version, which is on iOS, Android, PC and Mac, is very similar, but more polished. It’s a clicker game — think cookie clicker, that one with the different kinds of biscuits and grannies that eventually morph into a strange and terrible hive mind entity bent on world domination and/or destruction — but is based around potatoes, and a misunderstanding of Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. Mostly the potatoes.

While all clickers have a modicum of drudgery to them, they appeal to the kind of person who is happy to chase a seemingly far off achievement in anticipation of that sweet, sweet ding (i.e. someone like me) and Spaceplan does it very well, because it does it with humour. And is, somehow, surprisingly heartwarming. In a weird way. A starchy, carby way. Potatoes are the perfect comfort food, after all. Or maybe I just really fucking like potatoes.

Late Shift

I know I can’t be the only one who likes FMV, right? So Wales Interactive did The Bunker a while ago, starring a supporting dwarf from The Hobbit movies, which was about an entirely beige man trapped in a bunker following nuclear apocalypse. What else? 

Wales Int.’s latest is called Late Shift, which is on Mac, PC and console. You’re Matt, a car park security guard who, through a series of heightened events such as occur in action movies, ends up party to the heist of a really valuable rice bowl from an auction. Or, maybe only a bit party to it. Maybe you try and get out of it. Maybe you try to snitch to the police. Late Shift has done away with some of the problems in The Bunker: there are no first person parts where you can see an actor awkwardly leaning out of shot, for example. It’s more like an 80 minute film that you gently nudge along. 

It’s very vocally self aware about what it is. Sometimes Matt’s internal monologue will mention branching paths and wrong choices, that kind of thing. I also didn’t encounter any fail states. When it seems like Matt is about to run aground he’s pushed in a different direction, like a cork in a river rapid. And the river is all organised crime and stuff. Whether you like it will depend on how much you like the story, but then one of the impressive things about Late Shift is that said story can be extremely different each time you play it.

Previous Weirdspos: March; February; January.


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