Alarmingly These Are Not Lovesick Zombies
Jason Nelson, the creator of game, game, game and again game (GGGaAG), is back with Alarmingly These Are Not Lovesick Zombies (ATANLZ), his latest attempt to dissect abstract ideas through gameplay. Your reaction to that sentence should tell you whether or not to click away. If you're still with me, you should buckle up, its a zany, interesting ride.
The game itself is a basic shooter, you aim with the mouse, move around with the arrow keys, and shoot with a click. Your enemies are "zombies" of various types, spider heads, number trays, hubcaps; though for all their cosmetic variation they play alike. Each level, likewise is only distinguished by its background, the gameplay doesn't really change, which is something of a step back from Nelson's first "game". (It's important to note that Jason has a lot of work that is interactive, but doesn't qualify as a game.) What ATANLZ does do as well or better than GGGaAG is provide a smooth flow of sensory overload coupled with more coherent thoughts.
Each level uses the theme of its background, zombie art, bullet art and background, but very rarely its actual gameplay, to make some kind of statement about an aspect of how the game industry uses cheap mechanics to manipulate people into feeling good and want to buy their product. It is cynicism delivered on a plate of suitably shallow gameplay with a nice garnish of wit. Personally, I dig it, because it tickles my cynical game designer funny bone — but for the largest audience I still recommend giving it a play for the educational value. People talk about games having the power to teach by using specific processes, but here's a game that uses very general processes to teach about game design. I think that's interesting and worth ten minutes.
It also has a very pretty kaleidoscope effect to it.