My first moments in Tom van den Boogaart's Bernband (Free Download), a goalless exploration game set in the mazelike city of Pff, led me to expect an empty low-fi walking sim. A drab apartment in a looming building. A window view of city lights in darkness. A spartan hallway leading to an elevator. Then something happened: the elevator's doors spilled me out into a dense crowd of sprites, dozens of people right up in my face, jostling and stumbling around the forecourt. Covid-brain kicked in and I yelped, lurched from the screen, then laughed, amazed that a game had done that to me.
Simple, stark and clear about what it wants to be, Bernband is small in absolute terms but packed with implication. It's experienced in the first person and heady in the way pixelated 3D walking sims often are. All you can do is look around and get lost in the sprawl and its weird connections. There's pubs, a subway station, a schoolroom, a child's recital, a courtyard garden, a chapel, and more, fragments of something vast.
There's a sense of the city's secret boundaries, too, places sealed off by architecture yet full of strangers coming and going (perhaps on the subway trains whose doors never open). As charming as it is, with its cute aliens and flying cars zipping by at hyperspeed, the vibe reminds me of The Bridge and Unthank. Bernband toys with a grim but playful tradition of surreal possibility hidden in impassive urban forms, where ducts and serviceways are the fairy portals offering glimpses of the labyrinth, the places waiting to be remembered.
Code Parade (also on itch.io) is developing a “hyperbolic” 3D game engine (download) where a line is not necessarily the shortest path between two places. I was impressed by the tunnels that are longer inside than outside, but the three-roomed house blew my mind. Can’t wait for the unsettling haunted-house games to come. See if […]
I’m looking forward to playing Hideous Abomination [Kickstarter], because it combines two of my favorite things: games where you build something piece by piece out of cards or tiles, and grotesque cartoon creatures that defy the imagination. Hideous Abomination is a tile-laying game for 2-5 people, aged 12+ (but with simplified rules for younger players), […]
Yesterday I posted about Finger on the App, a game in which players must keep their finger on their smartphone screen (and occasionally move it to a new spot indicated by the app, to prevent cheating). The last person to keep their finger on the app wins a prize of up to $25,000. Over 48 […]
Back in the 50s and 60s, it was no big deal in most areas to make a call to your local liquor store and have beer, wine and spirits delivered right to your house with little to no restriction. However, that ease and simplicity certainly isn’t in place today. Alcohol delivery laws in 2020 are […]
Unless you’re a regular cannabis user, you might be surprised to learn that the plant itself is basically just that — a plant. It’s not until you put cannabis under high heat that the process of decarboxylation breaks down that raw form into the psychoactive compounds that can actually benefit the body. This unlocking process […]
With our smartphones serving as the vital tether that links us to the rest of our lives, it’s no wonder how low batteries and power emergencies can occasionally feel like a life-and-death situation. I mean, it’s usually not, of course…but darned if it doesn’t feel that way when your indicator is showing only 5 percent […]