The changing of the seasons is really starting to hit, and we all know what that means: beach parties, barbecues, and huddling yourself in a dark deathly air-conditioned room to play browser games all day because, c'mon, it's friggin' 95 degrees out. Unless you're in the southern hemisphere, but generally, I assume you guys are too busy running over cane toads and having Carnivales to notice a switch in the weather. This week in The Vault, lets take a look at some quality games from our archives with a suitably outdoorsy theme. Whether webtoys, arcade games, or action works are to your liking, these choices should prove the perfect way to beat the heat!
- Seasons - The games released by Vector Park all manage an iconic aesthetic beauty, unmatched by any other developer. 2010's Seasons lets you guide Thomas (who is an egg riding a unicycle, of course) through a whole year of playful and engaging vistas. There's no goal beyond taking in the sights and minimal sounds, with but a few interactions in each scene. However, somehow that's enough. It's whimsical without being cloying, and fantastic without being too surreal. It's the kind of game that soothes the soul as much as one's frazzled nerves.
- Save Kaleidoscope Reef - Whenever you see a sea creature getting a starring role in a game, you know that they are probably A. going to be eating everything in sight, or B. delivering a subtle message of environmentalism (We're looking at you, Ecco!) Save Kaleidoscope Reef, a 2008 work by Tricky Sheep, though, manages to keep things from getting too preachy by combining its charming matching-polyps-with-plankton gameplay with lush art that only gets more gorgeous as you bring the reef back from the brink of disaster. Life may be better, down where it's wetter, and Save Kaleidoscope Reef is all most gamers should need to want to keep it that way.
- Effing Hail - There's nothing worse than being caught outside in a hail storm. But bad weather is not such a pain when you're the one controlling it. That's the premise behind 2009's Effing Hail, developed by Jiggmin and Greg Wohlwend, and it's hard to argue with a huge chunk of ice to the face. Or to the house. Or to the low-earth orbit spy satellite. But Effing Hail offers more than mere visceral thrills. There's an almost perfect skill balance to the gameplay: the longer you keep the ice in the air, the bigger the ball gets. The bigger the ball gets, the harder it is to control, but the more havoc it wreaks when it crashes. Wreaking enough havoc unlocks more things to smash. Throw in the faux-newspaper after-action report, and you've got a game that's fun as hail to plow through.
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!