A gorgeous flight game made for a loved one in a lost plane

"My grandfather's plane was reported lost in 1960 during the Algeria Independence War, days before the birth of his first child," writes Armel Gibson, in the introduction for his game, Oases. "This is what I like to think happened to him."

Oases opens with a plane flying over a desert, its engines trailing dark plumes of smoke. But before it can crash, a hole opens up in the sky, and swallows the plane with in rings of color. On the other side, you find yourself soaring across gorgeous, surreal landscapes of tall trees, enormous trumpet-shaped fungi and waterfalls dripping from giant sculptures. It is a world where you can soar forever, and never crash.

It's not the first game created to grieve the loss of a loved one, or make sense of their death—That Dragon Cancer comes to mind—but Oases addresses a very specific form of loss: How do you deal with losing someone when you don't know what happened to them, and probably never will?

Gibson writes his own ending for his grandfather's story, and invites us to wander around in it. It's a lovely one too, where the only goal is simply to fly and find pleasure in the world around you.

Created by Gibson and Dziff with music by Calum Bowen, Oases is pay-what-you-will on Itch.io for Mac and PC. [via Kotaku] Read the rest

Armel Gibson makes short games that feel like music videos

Playing with the short games of French creator Armel Gibson is a bit like interacting with a music video. If you're like me and you spent hours of the 1990s falling down weird late-night rabbit holes of shape and sound on late night video blocs, you should look into his works.

USS TLANCY is billed oddly as "kind of like a battleship dating sim without dating." It's ridiculously simple: You languidly swing the mouse around to aim your battleship guns at tiny planes and click to fire torpedos at other watercraft. But it's just slightly offbeat -- a serious-looking Tom Clancy flaps his jaw at you and suggests you destroy an entire fleet, and the stubborn violet color palette seems highly at odds with the author's Cold War inspirations.

It's the music (apparently created by a COM TLANCY) that makes USS TLANCY worth recommending, though. Playing with headphones, the simple, repetitive action becomes inexplicably engaging. You start to feel like you're leading some kind of bright purple bullet hell symphony.

Gibson's 2013 game Gulag Paradise was an entry in a French homebrew contest with the theme of au travail (work). If I wanted to go all critical interpreter, I'd call it a commentary on the labor that popular games often demand, alongside the illusion of choice. But it's a simple typing game with multiple endings that depend on the player's interaction with a sort of work camp counselor/slaver figure, who looms vaguely scribbled against the surreal and beautiful sunset.

Again, it's the gentle flow of the game and how it's paired with high-quality music that makes Gulag Paradise worth experimenting with -- something about it draws you in, makes you nod your head slowly alongside the simple movements of your hands. Read the rest