Tis brillig and the slithy toves are gyring and gimbling in the JiG Vault. All mimsy are the games from the past, and they're so good, they'll make your mome raths outgrabe. Yes, today we are beamish to present three of the more surreal entries from our game archives, and I'm sure they'll make your day quite frabjous!
- Hotel - Told in ten parts, this masterpiece of interactive animation from Han Hooggerbrugge has a plot just coherent enough to keep you puzzled until the very end. It is the closest thing I've come to experiencing another person's dream, and it has all the hilarious and disturbing qualities that implies. The titular Hotel hosts quite a varied cast ranging from the menacing Dr. Doglin's (and his research into freak accidents), to the goofy customers at the restaurant, to... the clown. The disturbing smiling naked clown. Good ol' fashioned Nightmare Fuel. Yes, this isn't one for kids, both in theme and content. Still, any adult who is a fan of the fantasically weird, and doesn't mind more questions being raised than answered should book a trip to the Hotel and come up with an interpretation for themselves. Be sure to read the ancillary comics as well!
- Haluz - Now this is surrealism that's fun for the whole family! Haluz is a point-and-click adventure with puzzles similar to the Samorost series... and it's a similarity which extends to its graphic and audio aesthetic. Haluz is more homage than a rip-off however, and Springtail Studios is going to borrow, you can't blame them for borrowing from the best. Depicting a small mouse-like creature's search for its missing satellite-dish, Haluz has beautiful scenery, inspired bits of physical comedy, and enough psychedelic creatures to make you wonder if the developers haven't indulged in some of the landscape's suspicious-looking plants themselves. Some of the puzzle solutions are decidedly odd, which is both a good thing and a bad thing: either your mind will be attuned to the designer's, or it won't. Whether or not you end up resorting to a walkthrough, you should have a wonderful time exploring the foresty world of Haluz. The sequel is work a look too!
- Kafkamêsto - Some games are truly meant for a mature audience... not in the sense that there's gore or nudity or swearing, but that the ideas it tries to explore requires a certain level of dedication to understand. Kafkamêsto is one such game. Your enjoyment of this adventure from Smoking Gun Productions will probably be determined by whether you think the adjective "Kafkaesque" is a good thing. A game that effectively pastiches the ideas and themes that ran through Franz's career is certainly that. Unsettling, absurd, anxious, and indifferent in equal measure, Kafkamêsto's voyage though 1920s Prague shows the alienating side of surreality in a way that few games have ever attempted. There are characters, but none seem to like you. There are puzzles to be solved, but solutions only lead to ever-more vexations. There are multiple endings to be found, but it's questionable whether one is better than another. Kafkamêsto isn't afraid to be mentally taxing, and yet, it is so well-crafted you'll keep on playing. So get to it! For all you know, you could turn into a cockroach tomorrow!
While we welcome any comments about this weekly feature here, we do ask that if you need any help with the individual games, please post your questions on that game's review page. Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and rediscover some awesome!