Browsing category: Indienoculars

We’ve covered a lot of “lost virtual world” styled vignettes, each with a unique take or theme and a particular accompanying thesis. Oleander Garden‘s PAGAN is exceptional and offers up an astounding amount of replay value. Not content to be written off as yet another trope ridden “walking sim”, PAGAN folds its byzantine gameplay mechanics into the narrative in a seamless fashion, and it’s this union that helps to elevate it amongst its peer in the sub-genre.

Set in the dying grip of a fictional MMORPG, PLAZA96, one particularly notorious for its user-antagonistic UI and hostile design principles, you wander the digital wastelands without much of an initial imperative beyond the urge to discover; a fun foreshadowing of what awaits past the game’s starting area. The intentionally clunky control scheme isn’t just a pleasant touch of authenticity hearkening to its roots, but rather a critical incentive for the player to fully engross themselves into the mindset of navigating the obtuse branching paths necessary for a complete story run.

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Your AR overlay provides the next lines, “I have a recommendation for you.” The AI counseling partner, Eliza, tells you to suggest that the client try performing some breathing exercises and to ask their doctor about some conspicuously name brand medication. “Have a wonderful day,” the script prompts, “Goodbye.” Another successful session, granting you a boon of experience points and a few medals to add to your AR profile. Your rating isn’t great, but you snagged a $5 tip, so at least there’s that.

In this near-future snapshot of Seattle from Zachtronics’ new game, Eliza, you play as Evelyn, a worker in the ever expanding rhizomatic gig economy. Recently contracted to serve as a human proxy for the AI-power therapy system of the future (the titular Eliza), Evelyn ventures adrift into a world she helped build but that she feels deeply and troublingly disconnected from. Previously one of the leading engineers on the project, Evelyn left the company creating Eliza, Skadha, behind her, only to return to see what her project has become in her absence. What follows is a harrowing tale about the value of human connection, the troubling state of what the mental health system has become, and how we can try to better the world for one another. Writer Matthew Seiji Burns paints a picture of a world not quite dystopic, but more reflective of our own current societal state and the path that those at the top of the tech industry are leading us towards at a worrying pace.

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Part Worlds Chat, part Broken Reality, is an intriguing exploration of the strange wacky side of virtual worlds, but one that has been done better- kind of.

Primarily known for their comedy collaboration with Rick & Morty creator Justin Roiland, developer CrowsCrowsCrows recent entry into experimental digital media is a little more up Rebind’s alley than their usual fare.

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IV drips pulse, carrying anesthetic down the tube, through the needle, and into the bloodstream of your wife. She lies beneath lamplight, her breathing slightly irregular, but it should be okay, her vitals are stabilizing. You have to put her under, again, to get through the study. In the two beds besides hers are your other subjects and colleagues. One an archeologist, the other the neurobiologist whose research brought you here. On the monitor, the process fills progress bars as sense-data flutters along the wires, cris-crossing between workstation and subject.

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One room, two plants, four creatures, six bullets, no way out. I stared out my window, the inevitability of the situation setting in faster than the wallpaper was rotting off the walls. I don’t know when it happened, I don’t know how it happened, all I know is that my damn tv won’t stay off, and the alarm clock won’t stop beeping. Have I slept? Did I ever sleep? Sure as hell doesn’t feel like it, certainly haven’t been able to shake this headache for as long as I can remember. But no matter how bad things are in here, I know they’re A LOT NICER OUTSIDE, IT IS A REALLY NICE DAY OUTSIDE.

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Routine Feat – By Alexandre Ignatov aka sad3d

(content warning, Routine Feat and the games alongside it have a tendency to deal with heavy themes such as depression and the resultant emotions that come with that.)

A gorgeous summer day, but nobody’s outside. The winters are harsh in this country- you think they’d make the time to enjoy the day in the courtyard, perhaps they’re at the stores, or off at the lake?

Routine feat is about exploring isolation, and not in the ways that most try to tackle it. There’s no monsters here, no violent conflict, nothing to contend with except your own inability to focus on the task you set time aside to perform. It’s the kind of isolation, specifically, that arises from forced exile in creative endeavors, the kind that is a direct result of procrastination. Hammering away at the pages, half of it turns into a diary.. what sort of story is this anyway? Why would anyone want to read the frustrated writings of yet another grumbling person looking to vent?

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We’ve previously covered Sonoshee‘s (@Sonoshit on twitter) Critters For Sale: SNAKE, a unique episodic take on the visual novel genre through a fresh perspective riffing on pop culture and to which shows no signs of stopping with the new entry GOAT.

Goat keeps up the intense visual style that made the original so compelling, despite going from a hotel to a desert the aesthetic remains fully intact and just as vibrant as ever. What has changed is the tone- Goat is an origin story of side characters from the first episode, and by the very nature of said character follows suit with a more dramatic presentation.

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Newcomer Jan “Jam” Malitschek‘s take on the popular online urban legend, Backrooms

It’s a recent trend in online folk horror to rapidly adapt those whispers from social media aggregates like Reddit, imageboards, and forums into short films and games. The Backrooms are a famous example, still palpable in the current zeitgeist, now blossoming in horror game jams or bespoke developer catalogues, such as PuppetCombo’s newly announced entry.

“If you’re not careful and you noclip out of reality in the wrong areas, you’ll end up in the Backrooms, where it’s nothing but the stink of old moist carpet, the madness of mono-yellow, the endless background noise of fluorescent lights at maximum hum-buzz, and approximately six hundred million square miles of randomly segmented empty rooms to be trapped in
God save you if you hear something wandering around nearby, because it sure as hell has heard you”

– Anonymous /x/ board user, source:

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Darting between overhangs, I’m desperate to put distance between myself and the security drone on the other side of the road. Raining, again, but I need space. My battery is running low already, but I can see batteries just one more building away. Not wanting to risk it draining while waiting for the rain to subside, I choose to sprint from this dilapidated sanctuary to the next. The rain proves too corrosive, however, and spells my end. I collapse in the street before my vision goes dark. Time to try again.

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Warning: The following contains spoilers for Can Androids Pray and features discussions of derealization and suicide.

Across the war-torn battlefield, mechanized corpses lay smoking, holding bodies inside like metal sarcophagi. Craters scar the wastes, reminders of the convulsions of humanity sparring for unnamed ideations. In a pocket at the edges, two Venusian Confederacy fighters lie locked up and damaged. Servos burnt out, they stare at each other alongside the wreckage of a Mercury Protectorate soldier, a reminder of who caused their downfall. Here, in their last moments, a momentary rest is found between these two in their solitude.

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