Wretched Wasteland is a solo game where you play with a deck of cards and a Jenga tower, which is something I’d never heard of before this trawl but is apparently its own genre; I think this is the … third? … such game I’ve encountered so far. And my reaction to it is the response I keep having: “This looks kinda cool. I should get a Jenga tower and try it sometime.”
I mean, I could do it WITHOUT the Jenga tower. If I wanted to be a punk.
Anyway. You’re a scout for a Fallout-style community of survivors, and you found the bad thing: a camp full of raiders. You need to get back to your people and warn them. But, they spotted you, and are after you. As if there weren’t enough things trying to kill you already.
(Which as I’m thinking about it leads to a bit of a plot hole: if it’s that hard for you to get back to your home, wouldn’t it be similarly hard for them? Isn’t the lethality of the wasteland working in your community’s FAVOR right now? In fact, isn’t the biggest threat facing your people the risk of you kiting these assholes back to your home? I feel like it would be an interesting added dimension; do I try and lure these fuckers into danger, try to shake them, or selfishly hope that my peeps will be able to waste them once I get within sight of the compound? But this is, I think, an entirely different game.)
Draw a card, look up what it means, resolve the effect. Pull a block from the Jenga tower when told to; if it falls, the wasteland got the better of you. The game encourages you to write a fiction of what’s happening as you go — or maybe even record an audio log. You know, like the kind of plot hook you find lying around all over the place in these sorts of games.
If you play this game as intended, you wind up with an artifact that you could toss into a post-apocalyptic RPG completely devoid of any of this context. That’s kinda fucking awesome.
I wanna play this. I don’t have the Jenga tower — and more importantly, I don’t have the energy, because I’m hitting those Sunday-afternoon blahs right now. But by the time I get my hands on a set of blocks to play this with, I hope I remember writing all of this, because this honestly looks really cool.
Will this next game be something more appropriate for someone running out of energy on the weekend?
Page 27, Game 3: I Signed Up To Be The Substitute Familiar Of A Struggling Witch To Pay My Bills And I’m Just Now Realizing… by Alex Zandra
“An illustrated light novel about magic, witches, familiars, and gender feels”
Ooh, very nice timing, “light novel.” I mean, it’s hard as fuck to do fiction well, but if it describes itself as “light” I’m optimistic that at least it’s not gonna waste my time. Let’s give it a look.
You’re Caffie, a young woman (or, at least, femme-presenting human — I don’t recall the game specifying a gender) just starting work at a coffee shop, the titular Whipped and Steamy.
In proper video game fashion, you shall be given extraordinary latitude in running things at your new job — you have to select coffee, snacks, and decor for the day, based on what flavor of egregious horndoggery you anticipate catering to. That’s your niche: you sell coffee and treats to horny nerds with terrible boundaries. I’m sure all the other local businesses appreciate you keeping these dipshits out of their stores.
Each day has three parts. Part one: choose coffee, treats, and decor. Your potential customers are neatly divided into three camps: “Vanilla” (horny assholes dressing up as stuff to get laid), “Fantasy” (insufferable hentai fanatics), and “Exotic” (kinksters who have almost certainly gotten kicked the fuck out of all their local BDSM meetup groups), with the occasional “Non-Cosplayers” wandering by. Each menu item or piece of decoration will appeal to one or more of these groups; do you try to lean into whatever crowd you’re expecting, or try and swim against the stream a bit for the sake of diversifying your clientele? Simply running the same things day after day gets stale, so you want to mix things up — but be careful, new stuff costs money, and you have a target goal you need to hit after two weeks.
Then comes part two: sales! This is non-interactive, and you simply learn how well you did for the day.
Then finally part three: workplace harassment. You get to relive the most “interesting” customer interaction you had that day, wherein an underclothed horny superfan of something spews fannish enthusiasm at you while saying various sexually charged things. This portion is also completely non-interactive. Interested in what they have to say? Disinterested? Comfortable? Uncomfortable? You have no choices, none of that “agency” shit matters. Just stand there and take it, bitch. Gotta get those tips somehow.
Each day will get one of six pre-programmed cosplayers, and all of them are awful. There’s the submissive attention-whoring luchador with no sense of boundaries who demands you shout his name and requests you spank him right in the middle of your fucking coffee shop. There’s the condescending rabbit-hentai fangirl who is every insufferable fan who WILL NOT SHUT UP about whatever piece of media they enjoy and are as subtle at recruiting you to their fandom as a Mormon with a quota and a shotgun. There’s the conceited pirate guy who was probably the most fuckable of the lot just because he was the least horrible — not that, as we have established, my preference matters in any conceivable way. And there’s the Wannabe Dom Girl.
Sweet leather-clad Jesus, the Wannabe Dom Girl.
I am not a kinkster, but I’ve dabbled, and I have enough friends in that community to consider myself well-versed in the basics. Every time this braying jackass opens her mouth, she is violating the standards of any reasonable kink community.
As an ex of mine once said to a clueless guy who came on to her too strong at an event, “Sweetie, you may be a dom, but you’re not MY dom. Now run along.”
But, no. Every word out of Wannabe Dom Girl’s mouth is berating and belittling you, and demanding you RESPECT HER AUTHORITY and grovel at her feet. Even though you’re just the girl working the counter in a coffee shop.
Did you consent to this treatment? Nope! You don’t consent to goddamn anything in this game. And that’s a MASSIVE problem. Any dom who pulls this shit on someone who doesn’t consent to it isn’t showing strength — they’re showing clueless idiocy. They’re showing a frightening lack of boundaries, and a terrifying disregard for other people. This is the sort of behavior that gets you kicked out of communities. This is the sort of behavior that makes people ask hard, uncomfortable questions of your friends who stand by and enable it. This is the sort of behavior that gets people warning their friends about you.
The secret sauce that makes a good dom a good dom is empathy. Dick-swinging testosterone is cheap and easy, and if that’s all you have going for you, any sub who knows what they’re doing will stay the fuck away from you. This game’s author is mistaking the theatrics of BDSM for reality, and is demonstrating an understanding of the kink scene on par with 50 Shades of Gray.
And Wannabe Dom Girl is pulling this shit on a BARISTA. She is pulling this on WAITSTAFF. She is harassing and verbally abusing someone who is FORCED to be there, whose job makes it difficult for them to push back in the way this behavior demands.
The fact that your on-screen avatar is a slender femme-presenting woman adds yet another layer to the ongoing squick.
Once the interaction is mercifully over, you get a punchcard indicating your relationship with this customer has somehow advanced, whether you want it to or not. Because that’s apparently how sexually charged relationships work or something.
It’s fucking awful. If you’re a woman who’s worked as a barista and ever had to deal with horny idiot customers who would not take “Go away” for an answer, I would expect this game to be actively triggering.
This game clearly wants me to be enticed and titillated by all these sexy people talking about sexy things. Instead, all I see are a bunch of self-absorbed assholes intent on inflicting their fandoms and kinks on whatever poor shmucks are forced to stand there and endure it.
At the end of the two weeks, my boss informed me I had failed at the resource management aspect of the game. He had mentioned early on that I had a target monetary goal I had to hit. I have no idea what it was; the game never mentions it again, save to tell me that I’d missed it. With regret, my boss fired me — but invited me to try playing the game again and seeing if maybe I could do better.
No. Never interacting with any of these fuckwits ever again is worth more than this job could possibly pay.
Everything about this game is pure yikes, and I cannot recommend it for anybody.
Will this next game help purge the foul taste of ignored consent from my soul?
Page 19, Game 23: Wretched Wasteland by Stuart W.
“A solo journaling RPG set in a barren post-apocalyptic wasteland”
Comparatively speaking, sounds like Disneyland. At least radioactive mutants will take getting shot in the face as “No.”
Norton tells me that it doesn’t know enough about this file to say I can open it safely. And I have that anti-viral software running for a reason. I’ve seen Norton react much more negatively than this, but if this is the game that gives me digital herpes, I’d feel pretty stupid.
A pity. It looks adorable.
I’ve deleted it from my script’s list of games it’s already covered. Maybe the next time it comes back ’round on the guitar, Norton will know enough about it to give me the all-clear. Until then, let’s spin the wheel again.
Will this next game give me that thrill of using the WRONG COLOR when coloring-in animals?!
“A pixel platformer/adventure where you try to find the shrine to Anubis”
All right, welcome to last-minute fill-in status, Shrine to Anubis!
… and fifteen minutes later, it’s all played.
That was cute.
All right. So, you’re an Archeology Guy doing an Archeology.
Into the pyramid you go! Behold strange, perplexing glyphs!
Jump around! Dodge things! Try not to die! Set flag checkpoints if you ignore that advice and get your stupid ass killed anyway!
Obviously, it’s a lo-fi adventure platformer. It plays … fine. Movement is weirdly devoid of momentum. When you stop, you STOP, immediately. Makes some of the precision jumps pretty simple to time, at least.
That’s really what the game is all about — timing. Get the timing on the arrows right, get the timing on the floor spikies right, jump here, jump there, etc. There’s really not much here you haven’t seen before, probably.
You’ll pick up some loot, too. And the finale stage has some surprises I don’t wanna spoil. Because slight as it is, I’m actually gonna kinda sorta recommend this one.
I’ve been fooling around a bit with teaching myself the Unity engine, and I have to say, this feels like something an experienced game dev could bang out in a day. But I don’t think that’s what actually happened; this feels more … self-educational than that. It feels like this is someone’s first try at making a platformer — and they did a pretty solid job. It’s unpolished, but quite playable. It hits the right balance of being challenging without being frustrating, and it moves along briskly; I finished it in about fifteen minutes, and it didn’t wear out its welcome.
It’s fun. There’s not much to it, but it’s a charming little retro run-and-jumper. I had a good time playing it.
Honestly, it feels like something somebody worked on as part of a video game design class. No idea if that’s true or not, but if it were, I’d be inclined to give this dev an “A”. If my nephew or nieces told me the created this, I’d be suitably impressed — though I’d warn my brother/sister that if they REALLY want to put it for sale on-line, maybe encourage them to not charge more than a dollar for it.
Which is exactly what this guy will cost you. If it sounds at all appealing, by all means give it a look. If you hate it, you’re only out $1 and fifteen minutes.
Will this next game encourage me to shout “It belongs in a museum!”?
Page 26, Game 21: Whipped And Steamy • Cosplay Café by Whales And Games
“In a town where adult media is the new best thing the Whipped and Steamy Café is the best fun for all cosplayers!”
Only if the museum has a Culture After Dark section. This sounds super porny.
Aside from being two-player-only — tl;dr I’m not a fan — this game actually ticks a lot of my boxes. It’s visually interesting, with inventive game play that I’ve never seen before. It’s exactly the kind of game that I’m hoping to find on this trawl….
… except for the whole thing where I want it to be “fun.” Clash of Coins is emphatically not fun. Gonna have to deduct a whole bunch of points for that.
You are a coin. Your opponent is a coin. You will now coin-battle, and attempt to blast each other off your coin platform. Now fight!
The goal is to blast your foe into the cloudy void surrounding your platform. You can slam into each other, you can make spinny attacks, you can jump, you can even jump AND attack! This will cause you to slam down into the floor below you — which is very rough on the floor. See all those cracks? Those are sections of floor just waiting for you to weaken them so they can fuck off forever.
Also, sections of the arena will start spinning. There will be times when defeating your foe simply means you did a better job identifying and jumping to safety than they did.
So what’s the problem?
It’s all so slow.
Moving the coins is like moving through Jello. You push the button, and your coin will start doing the thing eventually. Jump, and you slowly arc up, then gently come back down. Fall off the edge, and you have ages to contemplate your demise.
It makes for a deeply frustrating gaming experience.
I have no idea what the problem is. My machine has handled much fancier games than this, and the framerate looks fine. The game doesn’t look choppy at all; it’s excruciatingly slow, but it’s a very high-resolution slow. It’s like watching a hi-def video of slugs fucking, which I just realized is almost certainly its own genre of porn and I’m not gonna go looking for it let let me just live in ignorance.
The video on the game’s page looks fun. I’d be curious to play that game. The game I downloaded really sucks.
The best version of this game would be intriguing. It’s still pretty raw; there’s no sound whatsoever, and as mentioned, there’s not even an attempt at an AI opponent here. But if you presented me with a version of this game that doesn’t feel like swimming through a fat kid, I’d absolutely play it. If the dev is still playing with this concept, I certainly wish them well.
Will this next game respond to my commands in real time?
Page 45, Game 16: Discovering Colors – Animals by Frogames
“Coloring for kids”
Animal colors? For kids? Fuck yeah! Kids are stupid! I’m gonna rock that shit!
Okay. Are you developing a video game, or some other form of visual media? Would you like that video whatever to have a background appropriate for a side-scrolling 2D platformer? Would you like that background to be a forest? Would you like that forest to be dominated by the pixelated side of the Force? Would you like that forest to be dark and gloomy?
If you answered Yes to every question in the prior paragraph — every single question — then I have some excellent news for you!
What’s to say? It’s a perfectly cromulent solution to an extremely specific problem. If you’re one of the people trying to solve that problem, it’ll be a nifty resource.
However, no bears. Gonna be a little bit judgy for that.
Will this next game offer me any bears?
Page 50, Game 6: Clash of Coins by Zwi Zausch
Local 2 player brawler fun on a shapeshifting arena in the clouds!