The once-alive, now seemingly dead (but not conceptually), always-rocking non-collective that was briefly known as “DEVCHAT” had a game jam a couple of weeks ago. The result of which: nine little games that were released for free as part of the Ghost Wheel? Bundle.
Inside this mysterious and sudden bundle are games that are loosely connected, it would seem, on an undead theme—ghosts, skeletons, and existential decay are all common. Although DEVCHAT was a loosely held unit for a while, each game flaunts its creators’ personal style. This has led to the bundle as a whole inviting a range of comparisons, from Kentucky Route Zero and Glitchhikers to many an NES arcade classic.
To prove it, here’s a quick round of sentences for each game in the Ghost Wheel? Bundle. If and when you’re ready to check them out yourself, you can download them all (and not separately) for free over on itch.io.
(Rubna) Ghost Wheel Town
Andrew Gold’s novelty Halloween song “Spooky Scary Skeletons” always needed a game to match it, and here it is! In this score-based platformer you catch leafy dollars by popping ghosts with your bony skeleton feet. Getting higher ground is desirable, but climbing the ghost wheel will cause it to spin faster each time you propel off it. The subsequent struggle soon resembles the animated antics of a chase scene in an episode of Scooby Doo.
Everyday Ghosts (IMPLODING ORACLE, DannyG)
Everyday Ghosts has the tonal qualities of Kentucky Route Zero‘s strangest scenes—the bizarre happening amid the mundane. The quiet junkyard is ideal for the fox-like teenage characters to scavenge for thrown-away treasures, but it’s haunted by spectral conversation. The cog-collecting requirement feels inelegant but as a whole this is a delightfully ominous slice of mystery that raises more questions than it answers.
A Walk In The Rain (Tom Kail)
If you need a place to lose yourself, thinking about the day, what better a location than a drift above cotton wool clouds? Only the soft, regular pitter-patter of the light rain and the ever-changing cosy hues of the background distract you from your walk.
A Ghost Porno Page By Page (Takorii, Mc Hepher)
You’re only able to move a flickering lamp and a smartphone around in this dark patch of floor. Juggling them both is uncomfortable, but it feels like a necessary sacrifice for this naughty night-time activity. This makes you feel like a kid again, hiding under the duvet to read a book with a flashlight or, as in this case, ghostly pornographic material.
ghost (hugs_and_fire, nxTOS)
Ghosts always get to have the fun during routine hauntings. Whereas most videogames would have us running in fear from ghouls and other monsters, Ghost has us playing as a devious white cloth entity for once. Your goal is to spook a couple of unwise kids wandering the dark halls of a mansion. You can flicker the lights or turn off nearby ones altogether. Just make sure to stay out of the light yourself!
Prowl (Nate Gallardo, DannyG)
Prowl is this bundle’s most genuinely chilling entry. You sit in the backseat of a car that’s slowly bumbling through the dark streets of an empty town. The windscreen wipers hum with a dead rhythm, rain hisses against the hard concrete, and a creepily distorted jazz track uncoils from the radio. What’s most concerning is that there’s no visible driver in the front seat of the car. You’re paralyzed to face this scene, unsure where you’re travelling, and capable only of flicking a switch to raise and lower the nearby window. Where are you being taken?
Carnighoul (Tilman Schmidt)
Space Invaders but on a ferris wheel. Carnighoul has a tragic tone to it as you spin around your wheel in an effort to defend it. It’s like this haunted carnival is the last bastion of your undead life. The small gyrocopters move in from every angle to dismantle the carriages of the wheel. Once they’re all gone the time you survived is recorded and your life ends, sadly.
Music for Decay (Folmer Kelly, IsYourGuy)
What’s a more apt summation of life than an endless gauntlet filled with spike pits and angry skulls? Music for Decay‘s upbeat soundtrack and boisterous dodging gameplay runs contrary to the grimness of its title. As simple as it comes, you move left and right to avoid spikes, and press up to turn orange for a second to pass through the head-charging skulls. Get good and maybe you’ll live forever.
Invasion (FatalSleep, Anthony Swinnich, Retro Stark)
Being a bloated ghost with a slow-firing gun isn’t the ideal set-up for facing an onslaught of Pac-mans. As you scroll steadily to the left in this arcade shooter the screen fills up with enemies small and large, fast and slow. Trying to shoot them all, creating a gap for your large body to fit through, often leads to panic. You hammer the X button, unsure of the gun’s unusual reload timing, hoping that it fires in time. Sometimes it doesn’t, or worse, you’ll miss the shot altogether. A clever exercise in the frustrating feeling of fluctuating power and vulnerability.