Strange, Abstract, Disorienting Games

My game of the year so far for 2024 is Extreme Evolution: Drive to Divinity. (Yes, even above Dragon’s Dogma 2 and Unicorn Overlord, both of which I’ve greatly enjoyed.) It’s by Sam Atlas, creator of the Space Hole games. And while you can trace a path from those games to this one, Extreme Evolution takes things to astonishing new levels.

I’m a big fan of experimental indie games and this is a prime example. Though as psychedelic and full of surprises as this game is, the goals and mechanics aren’t difficult to grasp.

Here are a few of my screenshots, though still images don’t fully capture the experience.

While I want to help this particular game get more attention after being so enamored of it, I have other games in mind that fit in this category that I plan to also mention in this thread.

12 Likes

Catacombs of Solaris is a nice one that’s more tool than game but still fun to mess around in.

5 Likes

Icefishing V is about ten years old and another good example of this sort of thing. Part of the challenge is figuring out what to do, but here’s a hint for anyone who tries it and wants a hint: Head toward something that looks like a phone booth.

This one’s freeware.

4 Likes

This sort of thing is something I really seek out. Gonna look at my itch and Steam and just post some stuff that may be more or less strange, abstract, and/or disorienting.

I’m a fan of former IC game club game February 2003. Love a game that is also a museum.

Also a big fan of Reverse Woman of Human Ball, which has the most controls I’ve ever tried to use this side of Steel Battalion.

Anodyne 2: Return to Dust
Love this game to death. Has a lot of depth, fun characters, a cool sense of humor and some genuine sadnesses.

Every single game put out by Rail Slave Games

I recently posted about Critters For Sale and Producer 2021 in the ‘games we’ve been playing’ thread. And it wasn’t recent it was almost two months ago jeez.

Wormswarm isn’t really that weird, but where else am I going to put it?

Super Bogus World 2. I don’t know how to describe this one. It’s free; play it for ten minutes and you’ll understand what it’s doing.

One Last Game. Quoting the itch page: “Play one last game of checkers in dreadful circumstances beyond your control.”

Every single game put out by Jack King-Spooner.

Six Games in One Simultaneous Megapack. Does what it says on the tin.

Mouth Sweet. RPG in an office that uses stereo sound in its battle system.

Bellular Hexatosis. Quoting the itch page: “Fly to the eyeball city, locate rare tears, explore your guts, get the antidote for your dying sister.”

You Have 293 Keys. Again, does what it says on the tin.

That’s way too many games, but I had a fun time looking through my library. Hopefully at least some of these are relevant and interesting. Tried to include stuff that is mostly not too well-known, though I’m getting worse and worse at judging that.

11 Likes

I love that Tenya Wanya Teens still has a live website, but hate that it looks like it hasn’t been updated in a decade. But what would they update it with? It’s a two player party game with 16 buttons per person, where each button does a different action, and the button layout periodically changes. Anyway it’s a very disorienting game! Sadly, it was a game show only sort of game.

I got to play this at an old timey GDC and had a funny interaction with Keita Takahashi when I told him about what happened: (the action prompt was ‘profess love’ and I pressed ‘pee’ as the action because the layout had just changed).

6 Likes

There are several on your list that I haven’t seen before and will have to try.

Critters for Sale was a nice surprise by the developer of Rym 9000. Instead of an incomprehensible scrolling shooter with glitchy graphics, it was . . . a totally different thing with glitchy graphics.


Something I’ve been looking forward to for years now is the expanded version of Memory of a Broken Dimension.

You can still get the 2015 version here:

If you try it and get stuck on the command prompt part at the beginning, here’s the solution to it:

  1. remote
  2. voidscan
  3. dive
4 Likes
6 Likes

this looks like a scintillating scotoma heralding an ocular migraine that ices my brain for the day

2 Likes

Good type of games! I will check out some of these. Gotta add:

LSD Dream Emulator

Starseed Pilgrim

Magic Wand

3 Likes

While you may be in a tube, Dyad is quite the disorienting experience.

2 Likes

released this week. cool mouth graphics

devil daggers now with research chemicals. FOV lensing is not just for headaches anymore

6 Likes

Seems unfair to include this game. After all it was made by dogs. It’s pretty coherent for a game made by dogs

5 Likes

Some of the strongest games in this realm are the works of Lilith Zone.

Crypt Underworld is of course a sprawling masterpiece, but don’t miss some of the smaller games that forgo talking characters and just bombard you with atmosphere.

For example, the three Map games:

https://lilithzone.itch.io/map-collection


I’ve been playing this off and on for years, but I’m still surprised and happy that it exists every time I think about it. (I jumped through hoops to create a Japanese PSN account way back when just so I could buy a legit copy to support it in some way.)

7 Likes

Also an IC Game Club game! Albeit an impromptu one.

For some reason, mentioning Lilith Zone makes me want to bring up Kitty Horrowshow. They somehow go together in my mind.

I enjoy the haunted cities stuff a lot.

6 Likes

this looks and feels very fucked up, i recommend it

3 Likes

love the thread. There’s some overlap with this old one but it’s all busted up due to the move

6 Likes

I think Antichamber warrants an inclusion amongst this company

4 Likes

Ilamentia is a confusing puzzle game in which half the challenge is figuring out what the puzzle even is and the other half is (sometimes) executing the solution. The visuals and the mechanics change constantly. I was never able to solve all 96 puzzles.

Never knew until just now that the same developer made the Vampire Survivors clone Boneraiser Minions and a few other games I’ve seen around.

https://www.caiysware.com/

2 Likes

Golden Light is one of my favorite games in recent years. The visuals aren’t as abstract as in some of the other games in this thread but it creates a unique world that’s atmospheric, dangerous, and plenty surreal.

Some really nice music, too, that at times seems inspired by Silent Hill.

1 Like
5 Likes