YRKKEY’S PARADISE is a puzzley-platformer from droqen, the creator of Starseed Pilgrim (and many, many other things!). You play as a little raccoon in a junkyard of electronic components, which you can assemble together to access a mysterious “cyberspace”.
Uff, droqen really seems to have a thing for making games that demand not to be spoiled, huh? It makes it pretty hard to talk about his work. I’ve already spoiled like two things that were really nice discoveries! (Three, if you count the meta fact that there are spoilers as a spoiler.)
Anyway, this is a game with a lot going on beneath the surface. Each realisation along the way is a delight, and by the end I was in awe of how everything fits together. This is one of the best freeware games I’ve played this year.
Escorial is a broughlike – that is, a roguelike in the style of Michael Brough‘s roguelikes (868-HACK, imbroglio, Cinco Paus to name a few). Basically, they’re de-constructed roguelikes on small grids, focused on mechanics that make you think about your position in a chess-like way. Well, most of them are anyway. Genre definitions are tricky!
It’s worth saying that Michael did not coin this term himself, and does find it a bit weird –
Well, whatever we want to call them, I think it’s really fantastic to see more people making games in this genre. There’s a lot of cool design space here waiting to be explored, as Escorial demonstrates!
It’s kinda built around what I think of as the “Super Crate Box” mechanic – in order to make progress, you need to change your current powers and adapt to new ones, while your enemies get tougher and tougher. Here, you have not one, but three powers to consider, which makes the moment-to-moment gameplay an interesting mix of short and long term planning, as you try to figure out which power you need to swap out, and which you need to hold on to as long as possible. It’s a lot of fun!
Escorial starts out pretty slow, and I admit I bounced off it during my first pass through this year’s seven day roguelike entries. There were a lot of good games released this week! But I found myself coming back to this one again, and again, and again, appreciating the little things it does more and more each time, until eventually it became very clear to me that this was my favourite game of the jam.
This is an interesting thing! Honestly, top down platforming is kind of a strange starting point, so to make that work takes a fair bit of effort. I like it for the same reason I liked last month’s GRiPPY – because it takes a weird concept that a lot of other people might have dismissed, and really runs with it. The level design is great, too.
I also really like how it pulls against the usual PICO-8 aesthetics, with its unusual colour choices and its “please open this in a separate tab before you play” style soundtrack – something I think I’ve only seen with twine games? This is a very nicely made, cohesive feeling thing.
Came across this super fun arcade game via the excellent twitter account @thegamecurator (thanks!). It doesn’t take long to explain – take aim with your mouse, and shoot at the baddies who charge at you across the uneven terrain. Try and defeat as many as you can before they overwhelm you: then, try to break that record.
There’s a real knack to making games like this feel “good”, and this one absolutely nails it. In a very good way, it reminds me a little of Bennett Foddy’s Too Many Ninjas (RIP Flash).