2Madvent 2Calandar

by The Haunted PS1 Community, organised by Vladimere Lhore.

If it seems like I post a lot of horror games here, it’s only because there’s a lot happening in indie horror at the moment. Horror belongs to the indies now!

This is the Haunted PS1 Community‘s second “Madvent” calendar collection, a series of 24 games for the Spooky Christmas season. As it’s an advent calender, I have of course not played all 24 yet, but I have played the first 3 and they’re excellent. Check it out!

[Download on Itch.io (Windows only)]

Shroud House

by Ravancloak and Tophat.

Ohhh, cool, an OHRRPGCE* game!

Shroud House is a lo-fi, world of horror inspired RPG – you and your friends have decided to go check out a spooky house, said to be the the scene of something gruesome. The house is filled with monsters, but you can talk to the monsters, and make friends with them. Maybe.

This is a really nicely made haunted house, with lots of interesting locations to explore, and a good story! It’s very short, too, clocking in at about 10 minutes or so. Check it out!

[Download for Windows/Mac/Linux]

(via FreeGamePlanet. Thanks, once again!)

* OHRRPGCE is an old open source RPG making engine that I haven’t seen anyone use for a while. The first version of the editor was released in 1997! It’s really great – I used to love it, back when I was a literal teenager. Looks like it’s still getting updated – as recently as September, which upgraded the backend to SDL 2.

Blood of the Killer

by garmentdistrict.

The sixth game in the excellent “… of the killer” series! The “… of the killer” games are basically 3D flatgames – walk towards points of interest and see where they lead. In Blood of the Killer, you once again play as zine specialist BB – this time, sent to explore a zine deal gone wrong in a rural town.

There’s a lot going on in these games – they’re dense with ideas, filled with little details, and extremely funny. This one, I think, is the best so far! Which is saying a lot, because this series has been consistently great.

[Download for Win/Mac/Linux]

Cursed Travels: The Shattered Labyrinth

by Casper van Dommelen.

Cursed Travels is a puzzle game (of the riddle sort), built around a labyrinth where you have to connect the rooms yourself.

Something that’s emerging as a bit of a pattern for me is that I really appreciate it when games have the confidence to let me get a bit stuck, or lost, or confused. Commercial games tend to be endlessly playtested so as to prevent anyone from ever having a “bad” time, which is a shame because there’s a lot of interesting stuff you miss out on, you know?

(If you get stuck, this video is a good place to look for hints!)

[Play online (itch.io)]

(via FreeGamePlanet, thanks!)

Burning Ravager

by SinclairStrange.

This is an exceptionally well made metroidvania, which just won Ludum Dare 49. I think it’s an especially strong winner, as Ludum Dare winners go!

What’s particularly good in this game is the level layout – it makes fantastic use of hidden passages and powerups to allow you to approach its six different goals in any order you choose. Which makes some very dramatic and interesting shortcuts possible!

After playing, I recommend checking out at the entire level map in one big image, which the author uploaded along-side the game.

[Download for Windows (itch.io)]

Crazy Stairs

by Sleazel.

In general, I prefer to highlight recent games on this site. But I think it’s worthwhile being a bit looser with the rules when it comes to Roblox games, and I really wanna tell you about this game from 2018 that I just found out about.

Crazy Stairs is a multiplayer stair-climbing game. You’re all racing to reach the top of a random 4x4x21 tower of stairs, and the first person to grab the glowing orb at the top wins.

…except…

To make things interesting, you’ve all got special powers! Powers cost mana to activate (which you can collect in the tower), and they do things like create stairs between platforms, or destroy stairs that are in your way.

…but, also…

Actually, you have six powers, and there are 10 (main!) classes, each of which has their own unique set of six powers.

For example, you could play as the green Patron class, which can create staircases and floating platforms, and which generally has abilities that create pathways through the level that benefit all players.

Or, maybe play as the yellow Joker class, which progresses by inverting staircases (so that ones that are going down are now going up), or by creating invisible stairs that nobody else can see.

Or maybe the orange Keeper is more your speed – it’s a little more complicated, but you can rotate staircases to find alternate paths up the tower, or move stairs laterally to make progress and frustrate other players behind you.

Or… well, look, the point is that there are a lot of these classes, and they all feel very different to play. Classes like the Patron feel like deliberate beginner classes. Other classes, like the red Wicked class (which destroys staircases), feel almost impossible to make progress with unless you’re coordinating with other players. Trying to make all these weird classes work is a big part of what makes the game so interesting.

If this all sounds like a lot, well… it is!

There’s more…

You only actually start with one ability per chosen class. Whenever you collect an Orb at the top of the tower, it unlocks another one, until you have all six. After that? Uh, yeah, actually there’s a second tier of massively more powerful abilities for each class, called “Ultimate Spells”. They use “tokens”, which you win by winning races.

Sometimes you’ll find yourself kind of stuck, out of mana and unable to do anything to change your situation. But don’t worry, because a ghost of your player is reflected through the middle of the tower at all times, and your ghost can also collect mana on your behalf. A lot of the time this will happen when you don’t even realise it.

Something I liked a lot is that you don’t actually have to race up the tower, if you don’t want to. There are basically two game modes – one where you just climb the tower and try out the different classes, with no real pressure, and one where you decide you’re in a “race”, and the first player among all the players who have agreed that they’re racing each other wins some tokens.

Regardless of which way you play, all the players are in the same tower, manipulating stairs for each other and changing the layout of the tower. Both ways of playing are great, and I really appreciated the freedom to decide if I cared about racing or not – a decision I sometimes made mid race.

Just look at that screenshot! Like… I think most designers would just not have tried to make this. Most designers would probably have simplified the core ideas dramatically, maybe focused on 3 or 4 very strict and balanced and different feeling classes. It is to the designer’s credit that they haven’t done that – instead, they’ve embraced complexity and chaos and made something that feels wildly unique and fascinating as a result. This is really special.

[Play on Roblox (account signup required)]

Swallow the Sea

by Maceo bob Mair and Nicol├ís Delgado.

You’re a tiny egg in sea of strange fish. Absorb creatures smaller than you so that you can grow big and strong. It’s a bit like agar.io, or flOw, except it’s designed as a single hand-crafted experience that takes about 10-15 minutes to play through.

The game has some amazing moments – you flip back and forth between playing as a predator, and then being prey, which is just a really interesting thing to build a game around. It doesn’t hurt that the art and audio is fantastic, and that the enemy design is incredible. Maybe skip this one if you’re squeamish, though!

[Download for Windows/Mac/Linux]

Squinky and the Squinkettes present: SECOND PUBERTY

by Squinky.

A collection of seven short games about isolation during the pandemic, and medically transitioning in your thirties. It’s maybe less intense than that description might lead you to expect – the games are short, and playful, and funny, and more than one of them has a fart joke.

There’s some really interesting writing about each game in the series on Squinky’s blog, which I recommend checking out after you’ve played these!

[Play Online (itch.io)]