Castaway on a Weird Island

by Justin Smith.

Castaway on a Weird Island is a game about deduction – you’re given scraps of information about what might be where on a little 6×6 grid, and have to use that information to figure out a safe path through each level. Do you play it safe and try to avoid most dangers? Or take risks and make moves with uncertain outcomes to try and maximise your score?

This is such an elegant little game! I particularly love the variety of enemies – all of which have their own little quirks that you learn about through repeated plays. I’ve been playing a lot of this during the week, and expect to be playing it a lot more in the weeks to come.

[Download for Windows/Mac on itch.io]

Raindrop

by Shuhei Miyazawa.

Came across this cute little arcade thing (via WarpDoor, thanks Tim!) and knew it was going to be my pick for the week – I have a bit of a weakness for well-made minimal arcade things. And this one is great – it’s cleverly designed and feels great to play. It has good “game-play”.

The game is super simple – you’re a cat, and you have to rush from one side of an allayway to another, avoiding the chaotic splattering of raindrops on the way. You’ve got a limited dash move to help. Make it to 1,000,000 points to “win” and you’ll see an ending.

Like all great arcade games, there’s a lot of nuance to the simplicity of its rules. You get a bonus for dashing across without stopping – which feels arbitrary until you realise you can start the crossing whenever you think the time is right. You get badges for catching stars during a crossing, which means you’ll probably want to let the bouncing stars accumulate, turning them into low-stakes obstacles in addition to the raindrops. A tiny set of mysterious per-game achievements lights up as you play, offering clues on how to approach your quest for a million points. This is the sort of game that looks easy to make, but really, really isn’t.

[Download for Windows]

[edit: whoops! I was wrong about the win condition. You win by completing five laps once the rain has reached its maximum intensity – which makes sense! As a high score game, it would have been a little odd to artificially cap your score.]

Fire Emblem: Gilmore Girls Edition

by Marlowe Dobbe.

This is an hour-long mod of Fire Emblem 8 by (Dicey Dungeon’s artist!) Marlowe Dobbe, created as a Christmas present for her boyfriend after bingeing the entirety of Gilmore Girls last year. (I’ve never seen Gilmore Girls, but I did rewatch the entirety of The Good Wife last summer, and the actor who plays Cary is in both shows. So, you know, I can relate.)

As well as being conceptually great, the mod is funny and well designed and I’m just delighted that it exists. More of this sort of thing, please – people making bootleg fanfiction videogames for their partners is the future Indie Games promised us.

[Download .ups patch file (itch.io)]

Forever Red

by taco360, with music by Augie745 and RubyRed.

Before Celeste became the platforming giant we know today, it was a tiny PICO-8 game, made in just four days. I was completely obsessed with it when it came out.

Forever Red is a mod of that original PICO-8 Celeste, with all-new levels, created over the course of a year. It features some great level design inspired by the eventual final version of Celeste – in a way it feels a little like somebody porting Celeste Final back to Celeste Classic, but also very much like its own new thing.

While Forever Red is difficult, I like that it’s pitched at a level just above the original Celeste, likely within reach for anyone who managed the original climb. And for those up for more, there’s a very exciting inscription at the 1000m mark which hints at the existence of a greater challenge. I don’t want to spoil anything beyond that, but it’s a big part of why I wanted to highlight this game.

[Play in Browser (itch.io)]

[Play in Browser (lexaloffle bbs)]