Michael Brough has another tricky labyrinth for you to survive

Michael Brough excels at designing systems that are simpler than they sound—better understood through exploration than explanation—and his grid-based games keep getting smaller and more complicated. In Imbroglio, his latest, your little dungeon-crawler has two health counters in the form of hearts and diamonds. Hearts are damaged by red monsters, diamonds by the blue ones, and you can do damage to their hearts or diamonds if you’re standing on a red or blue weapon tile respectively. In some of Brough’s previous work—like 868-HACK (2013) or Zaga-33 (2012)—you gain abilities by collecting them during play, but in Imbroglio, they all start…


This week’s playlist has arrived

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. HELIX (iOS) BY MICHAEL BROUGH This shoot-’em-up is less of a bullet hell and more of a thumb ballet. Arc your preferred digit in graceful concentric circles around jellyfish and moonrocks to make them explode in dazzling showers of sparks. There’s no tappa-tappa-tappa, just a slick slide across your iDevice’s LCD. Please don’t blame us when full mind-meld mode sets in and you miss your bus stop. Perfect for: Geometry warriors, thumb-twiddlers, your daily commute. Playtime: Best played in bursts of 20 minutes. LATE NIGHT DRIVER…


Helix, the weirdly sedate new game from Michael Brough, is out now

In his first proper release since last year’s titanic cyber-roguelike 868-Hack (which made our top ten games of 2013), Michael Brough aims for something weirdly sedate. The aesthetic remains defiantly his—glitchy, esoteric, and weirdly lithe—but the movements now are not excruciatingly economic or abstract but simple: you’re drawing circles. Circles and circles and circles. In a post on his blog, Brough details the thought process behind the game: initially an experiment in making touch controls work, it laid dormant for several years, needing a handful of polishing touches that he couldn’t convince himself to sit down and do. He apparently…


This Twitter bot might be the world’s greatest pixel artist

I know that art is supposedly the ultimate expression of human emotions and whatnot, but THIS ARTBOT. Like clockwork, it creates and churns out abstract and frequently mesmerizing pixel art four times a day. It’s called Great Artist and it lives up to the moniker. This is truly impressive work for a bot, or anybody for that matter.  You understand why it’s so prolific when you learn the pedigree behind it. It’s pulling computer-generated imagery from the program created by the man with expertise in grotesque pixels doing strange things, Michael Brough. He, in collaboration with game developer Andi McClure,…


Nova-111 is a turn-based RPG that happens in real-time. Wait, what?

Nova-111 looks like a valiant stab at solving the dilemma RPGs have faced ever since D&D hit the computer screen 30-some years ago: turn-based or real-time? Turn-based systems allow players sufficient time to strategize, but real-time just feels more alive. But it turns out you don’t have to commit to one or the other. Funktronic Labs’ latest, out later this year, occurs in a “real-time/turn-based time-vortex” that proves these are not mutually exclusive and that time is much stranger than anyone originally thought. How this works isn’t exactly clear, but you can glean from the video that some enemies can…


Michael Brough was asked about "indie scene," responds with pull-quote of the millennium

In a recent interview, the always-astute Michael Brough, maker of the outstanding 868-Hack, was asked what he thinks of “the state of the indie scene.” His response was doused in irony, pretty much dispelling the idea of an indie scene, and is the smartest thing I’ve read all day.  Really, it’s kind of paradoxical to talk about a scene defined by independence—how someone’s doing doesn’t have much direct bearing on how anyone else is. Obviously we’re not literally independent (and I don’t think it’s healthy to imagine that we are); we can and do support each other; but it’s people…