Myformerselves' indie RPG adventure game Gingiva is... uh... it's somethin'. In a surreal world, you, Gingiva, a turnkey-headed factory automaton girl like any other, find yourself sentenced to confinement and the lash when your work begins to slip. You could languish in your cell with nothing but serpentine feline ghosts for company, daydreaming or bemoaning... or you could escape. And what's outside those walls is unlike anything you've ever imagined. But everything comes with a price, especially in this strange world, and you're not going to be let go easily.
Use the [arrow] keys to move, the [spacebar] to interact, and [ESC] or [X] to open the menu when available. You can save whenever you like. Because this world is... different... you'll want to explore and examine everything you can, and talk to every... thing. If you see any floating pieces of paper, make sure to nab them up, since those are items you can use. Battles, when they occur, play out like classic turn-based RPGs, albeit with Gingiva's own unique flavour. "Strike" is your basic attack, "Savvy" are your special abilities, "Fend" is to block, and "Finds" allows you to use any items you discover. Vim and Verve take the place of hitpoints and magic points. Win, and you'll gain experience and level up. Holding [Z] outside of battle will cause Gingiva to wind her head, gradually restoring a bit of her Vim and Verve.
Analysis: Gingiva is one of those games really best left to experience before explanation, and I'm not just saying that because typing up a description of everything you'll see and encounter in the game would leave my family in fear for my mental health. Its striking otherworldly design and oddly lyrical writing are best suited for the sort of player who doesn't mind a deliberately disorienting setting and premise, and a whole lot of words on my part would ruin that. As confusing as it all may seem at first, however, Gingiva actually tells a fascinating dystopian tale you'll be driven to know more about even if it feels like some of the commentary and symbolism is beating you around the head. It's a bit of a shame, then, that it feels like the combat distracts from the rest of it. It's not bad by any means, it's just exceedingly standard, and in a game that's anything but, it's normalcy that sticks out like a sore thumb and begins to drag. It's a little like OFF in that way... hard not to feel mildly resentful about all the fisticuffs when all you want to do is learn more about the story and setting and all this back-and-forth pummeling is just getting in your way.
Gingiva offers multiple endings (some decidedly more compelling than others) depending on the paths you take and your decisions, and if Gingiva's unique style and setting is your bag, you'll be hooked from the get-go. From a mechanical standpoint, however, the game isn't without its hiccups. Movement feels clunky and slow, and exists from areas aren't always indicated visually, leaving you to wander around some large areas bumping against the edges of the screen like the world's saddest Roomba. Some of the area backgrounds are also so busy visually that the pale, thin text can be hard to read. It's weird. It's gorgeous. It's freaky and disorienting. Whether too much so is something best left to personal choice, but with a gorgeous and unique style and atmosphere, Gingivia is unlike any RPG you've ever seen.
Get the free full version