The Rock and The Rock

Here’s a dating sim about The Rock falling in love with a boulder

“What the hell did I just play?” I pause the game after it’s finished and lean back in my chair, utterly confused. The Rock and The Rock promised five minutes of entertainment and it certainly delivered, although it’s taking longer to process what exactly took place. Created by Kevin Roark Jr., The Rock and The Rock is labeled as a small game/interactive film aimed at telling the story of the inevitable and natural attraction of two rocks. You’re given the option of switching back and forth between the perspective of former WWE wrestler and well-loved actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson,…


An awkward game about touching a woman’s body explores sensuality

Just Feel is a project created by a team of seven students whose aim was to “mention sensuality and the pleasure in a poetic and subtle way.” Although I wouldn’t use the word subtle to describe the game, the goal was to “show sensuality without taboo and vulgarity.” The experience is meant to be a virtual embodiment of caressing a body—more specifically, a female form. Delving into the concept of sensuality from an artistic angle, it appears the game is not concerned with any sort of social commentary. However, it’s hard to play this title and not feel conflicted.  an attempt…


Psychedelia isn’t dead, just ask videogames

Though it hit peak popularity in the 1960s, psychedelia has endured as a genre of art, film, and particularly music that occasionally goes through periods of resurgence. Some of the best current examples of psychedelic culture, however, come from a medium that barely existed in the 1960s: videogames. You can find dozens of lists of the best “psychedelic” videogames, but many of these lists focus on the superficial aspects of psychedelia. They use “psychedelic” as a synonym for “weird,” ignoring the original meaning of the word. Influenced both by early 20th-century abstract art and by experiments with hallucinogenic drugs, the…


Sculptor turns Azerbaijani rugs into sublime glitch art

If patterns are a language, as artist Faig Ahmed describes them, then his trippy redesigns of traditional Azerbaijani rugs are a dramatic rearticulation. One of his woven carpets stretches like a VHS error midway down and melts onto the floor in a pool of swirling colors. Another rug hangs half-pixelated, the intricate patterns visible on one side minimized into thick squares on the other. Several others feature an untouched, ornate border around a void of floating cubes, or spherical protrusions behind a sunken field, or a spiral cone bursting through the medallion; a modern brand of psychedelic framed by an ancient craft.…


The freedom of being a bird girl isn’t without its dangers

A blue sky riddled with floating islands, purple deer, and idyllic waterfalls—the opening scene of Aer’s trailer is a scenic glance at an abstract cubist-esque world. The expanse hovering before us is at peace, but we know that there’s so much more to see. Taking in the view with us is Auk, a pilgrim girl who, after turning to look at us, dives off the edge head-first and transforms into a skybird with a spin and a flurry of light. The bird is reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword’s loftwings, but this world seems like so much more than…


Do not stop and do not think while playing Strawberry Cubes

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. STRAWBERRY CUBES (PC)  BY LOREN SCHMIDT  Strawberry Cubes is a platformer that gives you a toolset instead of a jump button. You already know too much. For this is a game that works by keeping everything secret and telling you nothing. It’s about navigating a lo-fi living maze comprised of broken memories located around your grandma’s house. But none of this makes sense. Nothing does. The only way to progress is to ask: what does this do? And then trying it out. You must…


How do you bring the magic of Spelunky to 3D architecture?

Mark Johns is chasing a ghost. This is what he tells me. It’s not quite the truth. The spectral quality of this “ghost” isn’t immateriality; interfacing with it isn’t a problem, Johns has done that thousands of times. The hard bit, and the bit he’s after, is understanding it. The ghost is actually Spelunky: a procedurally generated action-platformer that Johns declares “might be the greatest videogame ever made.” But Johns reaches for metaphor, as he’s the kind of guy to give into the lure of theatrics if given the chance. He lives in the moment. Snatch him a boiler suit and…


Artware finds a new home

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. TRIP (PC, Mac)  BY AXEL SHOKK Originally released in 2012 without any fanfare, first-person “artware” game TRIP got a second chance recently with its arrival on Steam—a chance that its creator and avant-garde artist Axel Shokk jumped on. This re-release, as it were, has encouraged Shokk to treat TRIP as less of a videogame and more of a “3D art platform” that he plans to regularly update with new virtual art installations. These will arrive as singular worlds accessible from the game’s menu that all offer an abstract experience…