Life Is Real Only Then, When 'I Game'

In this thread, post esoteric, gnostic, schizoid, and/or occult games. Games about reaching the throne in the clouds and passing beyond it, seeking the monad, following the fourth way, etc.

*****NO HP LOVECRAFT ALLOWED******

If we‘re talking esoteric and schizoid, I’m going to have to throw Echo of the Wilds out there again.

Game has a lot of spooky, existential stuff going on.
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Ice Pick Lodge stuff in general belongs here I feel, I personally love The Void.

Strange architecture, weird landscapes and uncanny creatures and enemy design. The game you inmediately checked out after you were charmed-intoxicated by the original Pathologic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpaPltqnCqU

OFF is another good one. A great postmodern RPG with a very interesting world and interactions and well made music, one of the games that inspired Toby Fox and that I personally like more than Undertale.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1EPegIzD2M

FATALE. A retelling of Oscar Wilde's Salomé but from the point of view of John the Baptist, with character design by Takayoshi Sato, of Silent Hill fame. This one is for you @yeso, I think you'll like it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYlP77Re96w

Tale of Tales also made The Path, which was their most popular game and another one I really enjoyed, certainly one of the first true experimental indies I had the chance to play, but I like FATALE more. It's more focused and restrained and that's for the better.

thecatamites http://harmonyzone.org/ and Cicadamarionette https://cicadamarionette.com/

I feel reluctant of saying anything else about these two devs, just hang out on their websites and see if it clicks.

Finally, now everyone got excited with that Baroque thread, maybe it's a great time to recommend Shadow Tower. It has a beautiful bestiary and probably my favorite in any game.

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Intelligent Rackety Paradise would almost certainly count as schizoid.

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Good thread. One of my favorites is Ramble Planet: Ramble Planet | Andi's Portfolio

https://andihagen.files.wordpress.com/2020/06/rambleplanet1.png

Ramble Planet is rather straightforward in terms of play, but pleasingly heavy on obtuse lore. it all fits together and FEELS like something without giving you all the answers.

Also really like Andi's Void Pyramid: https://andihagen.wordpress.com/2016/04/05/void-pyramid/

https://youtu.be/4MReXYmzKTs

Andi apparently put out some new games recently so that's COOLNEWS for me!

I'd also put @bankbank's games in there, like Cave Rescue and Bonkey Trek, though I don't know if you can get them anywhere now.

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@TheBeigeKnight#9054 Echo of the Wilds

didn't realize this game had this aspect when you posted it in the forest thread will have to check it out

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@JoJoestar#9056 yes thank you the void is great. Was not aware of Fatale so will check it out for sure. Love thecatamites and crypt worlds, rad stuff

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@Video_Game_King#9059 Intelligent Rackety Paradise

this makes me uneasy lol, but that's what I asked for gracias

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@exodus#9061 Ramble Planet

It seems to me that there are games that try to express esoteric/occult/schizo themes like patho 2 and the void, and then there are games like this and the kanoguti games that are more like esoteric or occult objects in and of themselves

seems like it could be rich vein given the game-like or at least participatory+interactive aspects of ritual (or say tarot for instance). Pathologic 2 doesn't go into great depth on this but the mystical/medical systems the game provides I thought were extra effective in giving the player the option to "buy in" to the gnostic steppe knowledge backgrounding the game

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I was thinking about why Silent Hill doesn't qualify as esoteric/occult in my mind. I think it may be bc while they have the trappings you might expect, the games don't evince a real commitment to, or any respect or credence for the esoteric/occult. SH is great but it seems like there's some daylight b/t games that simply make use of the eso/occult for plot devices, motifs, etc . So I suspect that's one reason for the je ne sais quoi in the games we have cited here

Ahhh here's one that immediately has an occult and established mythology feeling: Dear Substance of Kin by Deconstructeam, Ivan Papiol

https://img.itch.zone/aW1hZ2UvNDE1MTM1LzIwNjQ4MjcucG5n/original/12IcY9.png
https://img.itch.zone/aW1hZ2UvNDE1MTM1LzIwNjQ4MjkucG5n/original/FnKJfv.png

i dug into Dragon Quarter yesterday, pretty much blind, and let me tell ya, it hooked into me. the anime-af character designs clash so much with this grim industrial setting (9km underground, all tunnels and strange biochemical labs). it uses darkness as a sort of fog of war, and the camera is semi-fixed, so you never quite know what you're walking into. i physically jumped with the first enemy encounter, as some goblin ran up from behind me and i only saw his silhouette for a fraction of a second before he touched me and immediately started the combat sequence… this coupled with a vague non-linear restart mechanic and some magical/occult elements… wow, i am deeply intrigued.

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solid advice too!

Deconstructeam are cool! I know Jordi de Paco, the writer/designer, and thefingerspit, audio designer there. They make good games.

Devil Daggers feels like a relentless assault of otherwordly beings of raw madness and pure violence. Like that moment in which so many stories end, with the protagonist left to face unsurmountable horrors for the rest of eternity. In this game you get to do that and you get to fight back, becoming the nightmare yourself.

https://youtu.be/J9Gi0iTI2Mw?t=8

Seeing attempts at this game puts me in the most pleasant trance. But ultimately they all fail.

As long as were talking esoteric and occult. I feel I must also mention a game I just started recently: Blasphemous

Lots of bizarre, grotesque Christian motifs and lore going on here.
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@exodus#9081 will give this a go when I have a moment. In fact I think I‘ll bounce around itch to see what’s on there. I imagine internet-based witches have published at least a few interesting things

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@tombo#9089 Dragon Quarter

this is game is blind spot for me. Interesting that you read these themes in it have never heard it described as such. From what I know it seems like it might have some of the emphasis on struggle, endurance, and duration that pathologic makes use of. Also I like when esoteric/occult/etc media is expressed through imagery you wouldn't expect. Enough pentagrams and 'cosmic horror' as far as I'm concerned

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@JoJoestar#9090 Devil Daggers

I'm thinking about how "videogame" a game can be before the esotericism thins out into motif. Maybe the relentlessness you describe in the game has a certain effect

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@TheBeigeKnight#9094 Blasphemous

as you play through it, would be curious to know your thoughts re how "serious" the game is wrt its themes.

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@yeso#9095 It felt like an interesting choice for the thread precisely because of its gameness: mechanical design as an alternate path to reach the mental space I believe we are seeking here. To me it's the combination of atmosphere (darkness, rusty textures, lo-fi shapes), sensory overload and sound design. Every enemy has its own scream or screeching metal sound associated and part of learning the game is learning to navigate the cacophony of madness and turning it into a discernible melody in your head.

Once you start making sense of it it's already too late. It captures that feeling of dwelling with the occult, removing the veil and crossing the line. The experience evokes a feeling of metamorphosis and body horror through the very difficulty curve and process of learning and becoming better at the game.

And also there is no win state, every playthrough is predetermined to end in failure, eliciting that feeling of hunger, of being just one step away from true enlightment through the horror.

Maybe listening to the soundtrack captures some of that?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQpz9bje0R0

@yeso#9095 re: Dragon Quarter

it might have been just a first impression; i've gotten a bit further now and just unlocked an ability to dash through areas without triggering encounters, which i am thankful for

curious about how blasphemous plays as a game, too, though that‘s kind of outside this thread. it seems to be pretty hardcore and exacting, which isn’t my thing, but the imagery definitely is.

Blasphemous is okay, the controls are mostly tight and moving and fighting feels good (better than IGA's Bloodstained, for example). Difficulty wise is less demanding than the average Souls inspired games but can get hard at certain points, mostly a couple specially tough bosses.

The main issue I have with that game is that, outside the aesthetic, which is fantastic, it's not a very inspired game. Really average and simple enemy behaviour and a level design so plain and safe it almost kills a bit the atmosphere with how mundane and "I've done this a thousand times in other games" everything feels.

Thematically is well developed and some parts of the lore and characters are memorable, but there is the issue that it follows what we could call the "Souls mood palette" too closely, being derivative in a lot of ways. Outside of that, its aesthetic inspired in spanish Semana Santa and andalusian catholic folklore is great and delivers some good moments.

Basically, worth a playthrough for the aesthetic, some parts of the atmosphere and animated sequences, but not much else.

HMMM, blasphemous sounds like something I‘ll lose steam with pretty fast, but I’d like to try it anyway.

@exodus#9114 Believe me, I wish I could give a more enthusiastic recommendation, I was a backer on the Kickstarter campaign :_) But I also think it‘s not a bad game, solid 7/10 I’d say.

Getting back on track, the Pagan trilogy from Oleander Garden is worth a look. I think Autogeny is the best and most interesting game of the three, but all of them are stimulating. They dwell on issues about gender and identity in a way I found interesting and have that particular atmosphere of things like Cicada marionette or thecatamites mentioned above.

https://oleandergarden.itch.io/pagan3

https://youtu.be/zQctnVN37CE

Thought of another example familiar to 90's macintosh weirdos

The Fool's Errand

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It's a puzzle game woven through an allegorical/mystical narrative, with individual puzzles for all 78 (I think) major arcana tarot symbols. But the really interesting part are the metapuzzles the narrative and smaller puzzles build toward. Very much process and journey-focused. I wonder if it influenced the witness at all

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You can play it for free on the designer's excellent website: https://www.fools-errand.com/07-DL/index.htm

@JoJoestar#9097 I take your point and will have to give this one a try at some point. My impulse is to view an fps as too frantic and player-empowering and also too reliant on doom/quake idiom, but from what you describe it looks like this game goes clear of that genre.

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@exodus#9114 sounds like something I’ll lose steam with pretty fast

beware tedious platform design, it leads to FALSE KNOWLEDGE

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@Syzygy#9112 I wish it was harder

my not having played it impression is that it has some harsh death/progression mechanics. Also the structure is a subterranean->surface journey, correct?


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And got another one for the topic:

the 1979 picture book _Masquerade_ by artist Kit Williams, the real-world esoteric game attached to it, and the zed ex spectrum game a scam artist made in an attempt to cash in on it

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Williams buried a golden hare, encased in a ceramic sarcophagus in a hidden location somewhere in England.

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The book consists of cryptosymbolic paintings, their solutions, when taken together, providing the hare's location

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The book was a huge success and inspired a nationwide search for the book's solution.

Unfortunately, the hare was found through dishonest means by a friend of a friend who used personal information about Williams to locate it, rather than by solving the book. The real solution involved following the hints to a rural English village and digging in the spot indicated by the shadow cast by a cross in a monument to Catherine of Aragon at noon on either the spring or autumn equinox

more info here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masquerade_(book)

The dishonest creep who "found" the hare and ruined everyone's fun, went on to make a zx spectrum/c64 game called "Hareraiser" that promised Williams's hare (now valued at 30k) as a prize for the first person to win the game

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the game was apparently terrible and alleged to have been an unsolvable scam and the publisher went bankrupt. Something something about karma and "the wheel"

a lecture about it here if you're interested

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouvi-fwrfIY

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@yeso#9180 This is some amazing art!

There’s such a contrast between the immaculate artbook that just so happens to contain the key to a secret treasure, and the ugly-pixels cereal box contest that the other guy made.

Edit: “Hareraiser, Finale” is an awesome name though