Ladies and Gentlemen! Boys and Girls of all ages! Come on down to JayIsGamesLand! The Casual Gamesiest Place on Earth! Sure, we may not have much in the way of thrill rides or funnel cakes (though I hear the "John & Dora Ice Spectacular" is not to be missed). However, we do have some wonderful games in The Vault this week: a gorgeous piece of interactive art, a high-stakes hacking puzzler, and a platformer that's sure to steal some of your time. All of the fun, and none of the sunburn!
- Small Worlds - The winning entry in CGDC 6, Small Worlds, by David Shute, is, without hyperbole, an artistic masterpiece. While technically an exploration platformer, such a classification doesn't nearly capture the pathos and discovery contained within the experience. Without spoiling anything, the concept of revelation is central to Small Worlds: tiny rooms become sprawling locales, blocky graphics transform beautiful architecture, serene landscapes reveal sinister history. The fact that such revelation are told nearly entirely without words only adds to the impact, aided in no small part by Kevin MacLeod's amazing score. There are a thousand ways to interpret Small Worlds, and all of them are wonderful and horrible. Anyone who hasn't played it yet, should budget fifteen minutes and be transported.
- Exploit - As a game creator, Gregory Weir has demonstrated his innovative skill time and time again. His willingness to play with the conventions of Flash gaming form and content is perfectly displayed in Exploit, a tile-based puzzle game. Exploit may have an interface about as advanced looking as an Apple ][, but telling the story in E-Mails somehow makes the game's taut espionage story even more gripping. The turn-based puzzles are complement the plot quite well. While likely having little-to-know resemblance to actual hacking, they'll certainly make you feel like you're ready to take on The Gibson. Though the world of technology is no longer the daunting place it once was, Exploit masterfully builds its tension on how there is still something ominous in how the internet has added so much abstraction to our lives; how code and firewalls dominate our everyday actions in ways we're never quite sure we comprehend. Of course, when code forms itself into something as awesome as Exploit, the digital future becomes a bit easier to take.
- Chronotron - A number of games have used the Replay Theme where multiple copies of a character work together to reach a platforming-level goal. (I think there was a competition about that somewhere...) Still, Chronotron, by ScaryBug Games, is one of the most refined, and preventing time paradoxes adds a fun layer of challenge. The titular Chronotron is a wonderfully-clunky little guy; sorta like if WALL-E had gotten hold of a TARDIS. The timer in the bottom left makes planning your movements natural, and the "Rewind" mechanic keeps things from getting too frustrating. Overall, Chronotron will get you thinking laterally and get your mind moving in all sorts of dimensions.
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!