Simplify This Horse isn’t what you might expect

Simplify This Horse is, on the surface, a simple browser game made as a promotional tool to hype up the Swiss band Extrafish’s upcoming album, Simplify This Fish. That is, until its layers are pulled back, and what’s exposed is a game that’s obtuse, weird, and fascinating. Extrafish is a balkan-dada-dub band, a genre you’d be forgiven for never having heard of—the band made it up. Mixing traditional balkan music with dadaistic lyrics, and dub parts, the band sounds all over the place, but in the best way possible. Songs are often hard to follow, they change radically, and they’re…

Burrito Galaxy

It might be impossible to stop grinning at Burrito Galaxy

When someone talks about nostalgia in videogames, there’s a solid chance they’ll also be talking about Metroidvanias or slick indie platformers. Super Meat Boy (2010) ends up being notable for its tight air control and precise jumps—the weird setting and throwback cutscenes are kind of a bonus. But from what I can tell, the upcoming Burrito Galaxy has nostalgia mostly for the weird worlds games let us inhabit. When the vaguely dissonant squeaks of the soundtrack from the new video started to play, I couldn’t help but grin: it sounds like someone made the Wii Shop Channel soundtrack play a game…

Shadow Hearts

The immortal weirdness of Shadow Hearts

This article is part of PS2 Week, a full week celebrating the 2000 PlayStation 2 console. To see other articles, go here.  This article contains spoilers for Shadow Hearts, Shadow Hearts: Covenant, and World War I. /// Several famously grim prophecies were recorded in the run-up to World War I. “The lamps are going out all over Europe, and we shall not see them lit again in our life-time,” said Sir Edward Grey, turning a phrase better remembered now than his own role in the disaster. On the first day of the war, Henry James wrote privately of “the plunge of…


How do cats see the world? This bewildering psychoscape has a rough idea

This cat is out of place. But maybe all cats are out of place. The one in Psychic Cat is probably no more suited to its environment than, say, my cat Smudge who fell through the roof of the greenhouse last year. The temptation was to call Smudge a klutz at the time (and let’s be fair, Smudge, you are an absolute dingbat at times). But it’s not his fault. We humans invented glass and the concept of a greenhouse. Imagine how strange glass is to a cat. Some hard invisible material that seems to trick light. Think of the puzzling…


You’ll be able to enter the fevered mind of a game developer in One Dreamer

There is currently no shortage of games. Imagine a game, any game—a small game, a weird game, a psychedelic game, whatever—and there are probably twelve versions of it online. This is great. The more the merrier. But as one processes the daily deluge of wonderful little oddities, it’s hard not to wonder what on earth was going through developers’ minds as they made these games. One Dreamer, which is currently raising funds on Kickstarter, is a game that offers a glimpse into the fevered mind of a fictional game developer named Frank. Said developer divides his time between two levels…


The hopes and fears of using a videogame as an online confession booth

The idea of a videogame acting as a confession booth is a distressing one. There’s a reason why the religious rite of penance is resolved in a two-person cubicle that can only be occupied by the sinner and a priest. This set-up allows for what is considered to be safe spiritual counseling. You can’t guarantee this if, say, the booth’s walls became digital and were expanded to the size of a videogame world that’s open to anyone with an internet connection. Yet, this is what Selfie: Sisters of the Amniotic Lens essentially is. you have opened up a figurative wound …