The sea is pretty dangerous for baby jellyfish

I might have a Thing about games featuring the frequent deaths of cute marine life, but here is another one: Jelly Reef, a game about guiding baby jellyfish by creating swirling currents in the sea with your fingertips. It's soothing, until you realize all kinds of things will kill your jellies.

It's a procedurally-generated roguelike, which is video game speak for 'invents brand-new deathcaves every time you play'. I find this game interesting to play on my tablet—stirring the water around sounds and feels pleasant and naturalistic, creating an interesting tension with the actual peril the baby jellies face and the delicate touch the game requires. Some people will probably find it frustrating, but I find it meditative. The way your smiling jellies stare in increasing terror at any danger they eddy helplessly toward is super cute, and will have you splashing frantically in the other direction.

Jelly Reef is the last game from Dutch studio Game Oven, which is sadly closing this month. The small team distinguished themselves mostly through weird gestural games that experimented both with social boundaries and with the capabilities of touch devices. The fascinatingly-kinky finger-flirting game Fingle is my favorite work of theirs; Bounden, a sort of dance simulator that makes two players hold onto the same device, is radically experimental but harder to explain to people.

There's something grim about seeing your charges pierced by urchins, hung there with X-eyes, dim as blood blisters compared to their surviving kin. Sometimes you have to guide babies around the dead bodies of their siblings. It's just slightly off-putting, grotesque, maybe the fitting last act of radical self-expression by a studio whose life is ending, but who loved to do work that challenged comfort levels.

You can try Jelly Reef on iOS, Android or Windows Phone for yourself for just a couple bucks.