So there you are, minding your own business being fabulous while you indulge in a little casual gaming on your favourite game review site (you flatterer, you) when it hits you. Feelings. What the heck? You were enjoying a perfectly good bit of simple digital entertainment! What are you supposed to do with all these feels?! Gamers have been talking for years now about how games can be used for more than simple instant boom-boom-pow gratification, but it's not just your Persona 4s or your Silent Hill 2s or even your Lunars or your Suikodens doing it. (Yes, I'm feeling nostalgic.) Flash developers are surprisingly adept at playing with our hearts and minds when we least expect it, and here are just three of our favourite examples.
- Loved - Few games have sparked more unexpected and intense debate in the community than Alexander Ocias's simple little platformer about choice and confrontation. Your goal, as a tiny little figure, is to obey (or disobey) the orders given to you by a disembodied voice, and see the way the world changes around you as a result. In a lot of ways, Loved's utter lack of in-game explanation or clarity makes it all the more powerful, allowing you, as the player, to project your own feelings onto it and draw your own conclusions from the short experience. While some people found it too easy and more weird than anything else, for others Loved delivered an unexpectedly potent dose of introspection which makes it one of the more polarizing, but still one of the more successful, experimental pieces of interactive art around. After all, if just one person is made to feel something, isn't that art a success?
- Coma - Thomas Brush took us on a stunning exploratory adventure in this short but effortlessly engrossing experience. It's eerie, it's beautiful, and you kind of wish it wouldn't stop. You control a tiny little creature named Pete in a world that seems dark and foreboding, and set out on a journey with your friend Birdie to save your sister, who has been locked away somewhere. The controls can be a little awkward, but trust us when we say; it's worth it. Coma might just be one of the most beautiful and powerfully atmospheric games around, and showcases just how gorgeous and chilling Flash games can really be.
- You Find Yourself in a Room - Escape games have an enormous and dedicated fan base, but it's hard to deny that developers rarely try anything new or more complex with the genre beyond "you're in a place and you have to solve puzzles to get out". It should surprise nobody who knows him, however, that Eli Piilonen's deceptively simple interactive fiction adventure turned that basic concept on its head in a startling and entertaining new way. As the title suggests, you find yourself in a room, but as you put more and more of the usual commands into the game you'll notice that the tone of the text begins to change. Drastically. How can you find your way to victory in a game when the game itself gradually begins to realise it hates you? It's funny, it's strange, and it is without question something anyone who doesn't offend easily should check out.
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!