At first glance, Off Balance, from Fernando Holguin of Insane Angel Studio, looks just like all those other maze games where you move your mouse from Point A to Point B without hitting any walls. And indeed, that's the general idea. You control a preternaturally cheerful ball of cotton on a mildly psychedelic quest through 25 stages full of obstacles. On each level, you must touch all of the red dots, turning them blue, without bursting your little friend on the walls or getting zapped by the bad guys. You have infinite lives, but your game will end when you run out of time. Simple enough.
The trick is in the steering.
You see, Mister Cotton doesn't follow your pointer at all. Instead, his acceleration is affected by the cursor's position in relation to the center of the screen. If you point at the top of the screen, he'll go up, and so forth. It feels more like you're tilting the whole playfield, rather than controlling Monsieur Coton directly. Which makes this a game less about navigating obstacles, and more about drunkenly teetering into things.
To even the odds, Signore Cotone earns Cotton Points, which he can spend to use special powers. You can apply the brakes (the game says "breaks," but it means "brakes") with the [Shift] key, and use your Hyper-Rainbow-Acceleration! ability with [ctrl]. You only get one additional Cotton Point per level, though, so don't waste 'em.
Off Balance is relatively short, but the level layouts get pretty clever by the end. Eventually you'll encounter cannons, evil "infected" cotton balls (which are quite terrifying if you have an actual phobia of infected cotton balls), and even a couple of bosses. The bosses are way harder than they should be, due to some terrible collision detection on their projectiles, but it's neat to see them in a game like this anyway. And all the while, the clouds in the background pulse like they're having a puffy, vaporous seizure. It's all quite charming.
In other news, the developer of Off Balance is called Insane Angel Studio, and now I have a mental image of the Archangel Gabriel lining his Soho loft with tinfoil while gibbering about chemtrails.