Another week, another round-up of the best games around. How y’all are able to keep making games at this pace is a mystery I’ll never solve, but that won’t stop me from trying to check out as many awesome projects as I can. This week we’ve got a whole crop of expertly-crafted games in a variety of genres. Read on to find out more.
I feel obligated to include every Robert Yang release in one of these lists. Now before you go all tin-foil hat, it’s not because he paid me or whatever, but because he shows a level of understanding in his design that is virtually unparalleled in gaming. Yang’s most recent work Dream Hard takes the brawler genre of the 80s and 90s and turns it into an exploration of identity in relation to specific locations.
Dream Hard was designed as a part of the DreamboxXx, an arcade cabinet built for the queer club the Dream House in New York and it tasks players with defending the club from fascists. Mechanically the game doesn’t stray too far from its inspirations with one key exception: you’re not reclaiming streets, sewers, or skyscrapers -- you’re defending what’s yours. It’s this inversion that brings Dream Hard’s themes into play and makes the game something special. If design and its relation to theming in games interests you Dream Hard and its accompanying artist’s statement are a requirement.
I like the Nancy Drew books. I’ve always loved the adventures of the girl detective, but despite their institutional status in young American literature they don’t seem to be terribly influential in the game design community. And while I’m not sure why more developers don’t love children’s pulp novels, the folks at Broom Cupboard studios have my back with their game Detective Corgi and the Mysterious Mansion.
If you ever read the Hardy Boys and wished the titular duo were just one corgi, then have I got a game for you. Detective Corgi and the Mysterious Mansion takes the exact same formula that made the Nancy Drew/ Hardy Boys novels great and applies it to a twine adventure about an adorable pooch. This is a relaxing jaunt through a spooky manor and features a gif of a dog wearing a hat eating ice cream.
Let’s continue our quest for cuteness with the perfectly adorable Slime Garden. Originally designed as part of the Procjam game jam, Slime Garden is an adventure on board a randomly generated island inhabited with adorable pixelated slimes. You can’t hurt these slimes, and they can’t hurt you. You can only walk around and take pictures. It’s strangely like birdwatching and a great way to relax for a few minutes/hours/ days. Check Slime Garden out now.
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