First, I input up-up-down-down-left-right-left-right-B-A-start, IDDQD, and XYZZY. Then I call my friend Justin Bailey and have him beat Sheng Long and one hundred polygon-team members on Cruel Melee. Finally, I tape a penny to the cartridge before stopping and swopping it in the drive with a delicious sandwich. There... I just got 30 lives, revived General Leo and unlocked this week's edition of the JayIsGames Vault. Aren't you so happy I did that for you? This week, we have an other-worldly point-and-click classic, a horror shooter that won't stay down, and a tasty bowl of primordial soup.
- Samorost - When it appeared on the scene in 2004, point-and-click adventure Samorost was a revolution. I think many had not even considered that flash games could look this good. While aesthetics have caught up to the Samorost level, the engaging tale of a little guy trying to save his home remains a masterpiece as beautiful as it is unique. I think it and its sequel solve the "can games be art" debate once and for all... if the landscapes of Samorost do not qualify as art, what on earth does? Whether you've encountered its joys before or are discovering it for the first time, Samorost remains a special journey.
- Deanimator - I'm somewhat ashamed to admit that I'm getting a little tired of zombies as game villains. The countless works featuring protagonists using heavy weaponry to easily mow down the legions of the undead has negated a bit of the creature's original threat. And, while it may be an odd criticism to make for a class of monster based around being a grim perversion of mankind... they often look a little too human to be scary. Throwing on green-makeup and a little fake blood can only do so much. What I like most about the Lovecraftian Deanimator is that it presents the undead as the shambling, nigh-unstoppable horrors of nightmares that they truly would be. There are no real "jump scares" of things suddenly appearing on screen or loud noises to startle you: only a slowly approaching shadowy doom. Likewise, the player character is a no behemoth: merely a twitchy scientist who seems well aware that, although he has a gun in his hand, he is far from safe. He must make every shot count, and pausing to reload at the wrong moment will mean death at the hands of his creations. Deanimator is not just scary: it is haunting, and that's rare indeed.
- flOw - Did we ever find out what grade Jenova Chen received for flOw, the life-sim created along with Nicholas Clark as a fine arts master's thesis project? I certainly hope he got some "cum laudes" on his diploma for it, since his interactive petri dish has yet to be equaled, even by Wil Wright. flOw defies easy categorization: Is it an elegant action game about personal evolution? An interactive artistic celebration of the wonders of life? Maybe even an adventure journey through the world under a microscope? Who knows? The tiny amoebas of flOw are here to sooth, to mesmerize, to relax, and to be interpreted in an individual way.
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!