Best of 2013 Nominations...
This lyrical work of interactive fiction, brainchild of Jonas Kyratzes who created The Book of Living Magic, will envelope you in a surrealistic experience of discovery, a gentle stroll through a timeless pastoral state where your decisions are rewarded with rich verse and life-pondering revelations. Each passage presents you with a choice which will determine your path; stroll slowly through the experience and play more than once to fully appreciate the outcomes of each option. Arcadia: a Pastoral Tale elevates the oft misjudged browser game onto the loftier plane of artistic poignancy.
We all love metroidvanias! But would we still love them if, instead of controlling a scifi bounty hunter, or a badass vampire slayer, we played as the alphabet? Answer: Yes! And ASCIIvania, an exploration platformer by Gharding3, is the proof! ASCIIvania is clearer documentation, a map screen and a mute button away from excellence, but its still a fun time.
Dys4ia is a retro arcade-y piece of interactive art by transsexual author Anna Anthropy about her six-month experience with hormonal therapy. Raw and emotional, but surprisingly humorous, for good or for bad, this is the kind of game that will get people thinking and talking.
Would you like to learn numbers? Of course you would, and Frog Fractions is just the game to teach you. With upgrades, maths, and some major hidden surprises, this is the best retro edutainment game you'll play all day. AND NOTHING MORE. Certainly not a parody game you don't want the kids to play. Nope.
LovePunks: The Game, developed by a group of the same name and with help from the Yijala Yala cultural arts program, is strange, crazy, bizarre, and absolutely wonderful. It has all the energy and vitality that you would expect from a creative band of 9, 10, and 11 year-olds, and they were clearly having a blast putting it together. Though its showcasing of the photo-realistic animations makes gameplay feel a little aimless, overall it is a singularly unique piece of interactive art.
A somewhat steep difficulty curve can't hide the polish and enchantment of this interactive art/hidden-object adventure. Young Sellar Dore runs away from home and the constant fighting of her parents, but years later, news of a devastating earthquake prompts her to return home... as long as she can earn the money for her ticket by tracking down the important items other people have lost in this surreal fantasy world.
It's always great when Japanese developer, Yoshio Ishii, gets experimental, and his RPG, Parameters, is certainly that. It looks like an Excel Spreadsheet, and plays like a computer hacking scene from a 1980s action movie. Abstract, but very addictive, Parameters won't be for everyone, but those looking for something a little different should find it quite compelling.
Thanks For Playing, an interesting little platform adventure developed by Alkemi Games at the Utopialis 2012 Game Jam. In it, time is running backwards, and so you must undo every step of your infiltration and bring your score to 0. A short, clever bit of fun that platform fans should enjoy backing through.
You can't look around. You can't check your inventory. You can try weeping, but expect Australian comedian John Robertson to taunt you if you do. ("Is there anything as sad as tears only you can feel but nobody can see?") If you're going to escape from this YouTube-based puzzler, you'll need to think outside the box. Actually, that won't help you either. You're not in a box. You're in the Dark Room.
The Fabulous Screech has a traveling show, and you have one very expensive ticket to see it, given to you by someone you love. Jonas Kyratzes returns to the Lands of Dream in this short but extremely potent little narrative/point-and-click adventure about love, loss, and perspective.
The Love Letter is a unique stealth experimental game by Alex Cho Snyder and Pat Kemp, where you must read a note from a secret admirer while dodging the taunts of your classmates. Originally a Ludum Dare entry, The Love Letter is a short bit of sweetness that will have you going "AWWW!" by the end.
Similar in concept to the Total Perspective Vortex, from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Scale of the Universe 2 isn't really a game, but it'll still blow your mind. You start at human scale and can scroll all the way down to theoretical concepts like strings or all the way up to the potential size of the universe. That's pretty big, and you have to scroll for a long, long, long time time to get back to human scale from there. It's kind of terrifying, honestly. Try not to think about it too much.
It's a beautiful day outside! The sun is shining, the crabs are trundling, and it's time to go visit your girlfriend! Nothing could possibly stand in your way... uh... right? A short and very simple parody platformer with multiple endings that makes fun of the expectations we have for these games.
This Is Not An Escape approaches CGDC 10's "Escape" theme in a way both novel and familiar, and it makes for a mind-twist of an experience. Clearly this entry was a labor of love for its creator, and the result is something well worth watching, and well worth playing. This is Not an Escape is an entry into our 10th Casual Gameplay Design Competition, with the theme of "Escape", and our community of judges awarded it with the 2nd place prize.
Unmanned, a piece of interactive art by Molleindustria and Jim Munroe, lets you step into a pilot of a drone missile launcher. More than that though, it lets you step into a husband and a father and a human. Likely to divide opinion, as its excellent writing and atmosphere is hampered by the interesting-but-flawed dual-screen game-mechanics, Unmanned remains a provocative work.