Gaming for Grown Ups
21st December 2011 14:49:00
Posted by Edd Harwood

Just Browsing: Ludum Dare 22 - 10 recommendations

Ludum Dare 22 has just closed its doors once again. The crazy developer race which sees game makers from around the world create games based on a theme in 48 (72 for the Jam version) hours. With over 800 entries, all entirely free and available to play, it is a gamers dream, or nightmare if you are tasked with trying to play them all.

This time the theme is ‘Alone’, although there seems to have been a large percentage who wished that it had been ‘kittens’, making for some rather bizarre creations.

Having played over 150 of them, filtering them by games only available on the web (no downloadables here), I present to you my top 10 recommendations (in no particular order), which you should click on and play right now.

Seriously, it is astounding what people can do in just 2 days.

Farrokh by Doktor Ace

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There is no way to describe this entry other than stunning. The fluid animations of this lone space kitty are intensely mesmeric and while the gameplay is nothing more than holding down one button and then releasing in time to jump obstacles, simply watching the screen as the cat whizzes across his planet is nothing short of pixelised heaven.

Puppy Shelter by increpare

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Stephen Lavelle (or increpare) is responsible for one of the best indie puzzle games in recent times (check out English Country Tune), and here he lends his hand to a simple positional puzzle game. The goal of each level is place your puppies at the correct point on the tiled board in order to make them happy. If you are a excellent puppy trainer then some of the lonely puppies will be adopted by the close of the day, making everyone happy. There is also cake at the end.

Craequ by Jonathan Whiting

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One of the most enjoyable parts of any puzzle game is simply discovering exactly what it is you are trying to solve in the first place. Too often games throw all the rules straight at you, leaving you with no option to figure it all out for yourself. Craequ makes no such mistake. Taking up the helm of a creepy grey silhouette, you must discover and solve the clever puzzle mechanic and escape the loneliness.

Last Breath by deepnight

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How anyone can make such an incredible, stylish, sentimental and utterly beautiful game in 48 hours is completely beyond comprehension. Deepnight was featured in my previous Ludum Dare roundup with an interesting interactive life-story-telling adventure. The gorgeous stylised pixel graphics return, but this time in the form of a fast-twitch puzzle platformer, about a dog who wants to find his ball. Alone, this canine must travel through deep dark caverns searching for his ball, while constantly being chased by his evil shadow. While the gameplay is perhaps a little too intense compared to the atmosphere set by the pixel backgrounds, this would be a fantastic game for a studio to release, let alone one man in 48 hours.

/follow by 01101101

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Perhaps the theme of loneliness rather sides itself nicely with pixelised graphics, or maybe pixels are just a very effective way of creating interesting graphics quickly. Whatever the reason, pixelised graphics are a theme in this round of Ludum Dare entries. The 72 hour Jam entry /follow is no exception, it contains fantastic and evocative art and some lovely, though perhaps rather simplistic, adventure style gameplay. Taking the role of a girl, you must escape your bodyguard in order to be alone. And then it all ends... rather horribly.

By Your Side by Draknek

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Perhaps not as well constructed or as stylish as the other entries listed here, By Your Side makes up for it with a fun puzzle mechanic that, I feel, interestingly makes a statement about relationships and commitment. Controlling the man, but with a woman following, you must use the environment to position yourself in the correct positions to solve the puzzles. The puzzles progress from being alone, from a wonderful relationship from meeting in a field, to getting married, then buying house. At least that is the way I like to see it.

Quiet, Please! by ladron

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Another pixelised journey for a girl that simply wants to be alone. While rather short, this game makes up for it in cuteness. Most will zip through this in a matter of seconds and feel like there should have been something more (remember these games are all created in 48 hrs), but at least you will be left with a warm fuzzy feeling inside.

Alone In A Crowd by Kenny G

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I have a penchant for games that make a statement about life. If they make it through the medium of flowing quadrilaterals, then my eyes light up like Christmas tree decorations. You are a lonely blue cube, making your way through the world of grey cubes, trying to find the one pink cube to spend your four cornered life with. There are also kitties I’m told.

The word alone by Matt Rix

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This is a very well produced and interesting game which combines Boggle like word finding with tile sliding logic. Your job is to combine letters to make words and then push the letter tiles in any direction to remove other tiles from the game, leaving only the word 'Alone’. It sounds confusing and complex, but once you have gathered the mechanics it is a relaxing and clever game. I am told that each board is solvable in just 8 moves, so why do I seem to take 50?

Step Off by intmain

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I am a lonely man who wants nothing in this world but to stay in my own little circle, which no-one else enters under pain of shoes being thrown at them. Which is why when I discovered Step Off I was over the moon because it allowed me to recreate my dream. In this little action-shooter, you must keep the hordes at bay using a ridiculous, but somewhat effective for a one button game, spinning throwing mechanic. Cute and pixelised. Just like my life.

And that... is that. There are plenty of other great and wacky games out there, itching to be played. So why not try them all! Good luck...

Other honourable mentions in rhyming couplets:
Someone to Love
Cat is lonely, Cat wants a friend. Cat brings fish and only, then Cat finds the end.

MiniCraft
Notch is great, Notch has might, in hours clocking forty-eight, he made Minecraft-Lite!