The Vault №119
What is disturbing really? For some people it's blood, gore, and Jersey Shore, but for others, it's both more subtle, and more personal. After all, one person's freak-out is another's "just another day". Personally, I'm more a fan of subtlety, and when it encourages discussion it's even better. So here are three games with varying degrees of out-and-out ooginess that have inspired some of the most interesting (and entertaining) discussion in the community.
- Coil - Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl are no strangers to unique work, but this experimental mouse-controlled game/narrative about (ostensibly) gestation (of a sort) is definitely near the top of that list. Figuring out how to play and proceed through each stage is part of the puzzle, at least as much as deciphering what's actually going on. It's one of those games that just sort of gets creepier the more you think about what's actually happening and what the game is implying, though the controls will be frustrating enough that some people might find this one too obtuse. It's still worth playing, though, and represents a cleverly handled exercise into unique gameplay and typically unexplored territory.
- Friendship is Magic: Story of the Blanks - Unless you're really determined to win some sort of sarcasm contest, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic isn't ordinarily something you can honestly call nightmare fuel. It's cute, cuddly, and sweet by design, unless you're developer Donitz, in which case it's an opportunity to make a mild-to-moderately unsettling adventure game. You control Cutie Mark Crusader and ribbon enthusiast Apple Bloom, who follows a mysterious figure deep into the forest and stumbles upon an idyllic community of ponies all lacking their own Cutie Marks... and concealing one big secret. It's short and simple, having been made for a "creepy pasta" contest, but makes for a great spooky escape from your day regardless of whether you love little ponies or not.
- Looming - Gregory Weir is one of those developers who never does a game that's "just" anything, and this otherworldly adventure is no different. You're exploring a vast, uncharted land called Looming, uncovering artifacts littered around the void, and, well, trying to figure out just what the heck is going on. It's a bit like wandering through an art gallery, only each thing you discover slowly gives you more and more details, as do the initially baffling letters your character writes your dear January. Looming is that very special sort of unsettling that comes from atmosphere and implication, and serves as a great slow, thoughtful trip into another realm entirely.
While we welcome any comments about this weekly feature here, we do ask that if you need any help with the individual games, please post your questions on that game's review page. Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and rediscover some awesome!