Electron Dance

Electron Dance Highlights


The Anatomy of ANATOMY


At one point in ANATOMY (Kitty Horrorshow, 2016), a door opened by itself.

It happened at 10 o’clock at night and I needed to put head to pillow soon. I wasn’t alone and the house was not particularly quiet. The whoosh of a toilet tank refilling. The clomp-clomp of neighbours jogging up and down the stairs in what sounded like metal boots. The reassuring whirr of a computer fan.

Yet I was absolutely terrified.

I thought: absolutely FUCK this game. I had no urgent need to find out what existed on the other side of that door, to let ANATOMY drag its ragged, rusty claws through my subconscious.

I shut the computer down.

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One Step Forward, One Step Back


Electron Dance reader Ketchua brought Cradle (Flying Cafe for Semianimals, 2015) to my attention many years ago and something about its look stood out. Its release last year seem to go largely unnoticed although Adam Smith gave it a glowing review on Rock Paper Shotgun.

Cradle is gripping, featuring a complex sci-fi story that is serious and unexpectedly bleak: but holy Jesus it has some problems.

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The Unbearable Now: On The Witness

On the theme park island of The Witness, you solve puzzles. Solving puzzles leads to more puzzles. Keep working. Keep digging. Keep solving. Again and again and again. But this process cannot continue forever. Where does The Witness end? And why?

At last, it is here: The Unbearable Now is a spoiler-filled interpretation of The Witness (Thelka, 2016) that’s been months in the making. It is laced with a few choice expletives, but definitely no gore. Or nudity.

Watch the film below or direct on YouTube.






Discussion: The Fat Finger


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Trailer: The Unbearable Now

As the next film is taking a while to complete, I thought I'd put out a trailer. No game spoilers for The Witness appear in the trailer, although the final film will be nothing but spoilers.



Discussion: How Videogames Lost The Plot


Dear subscribers, if you feel like chatting about anything at all from the May edition of the newsletter, please speak your mind in the comments here.


One Point Nine


Making whacking great changes to a game is risky at any stage of its development. Once the earliest of early access enthusiasts have wired their brains to take advantages of a game’s mathematics or physics - choose your scientific class wisely - the spectre of player resistance is present.

But updates are also welcomed because they offer something new to see, to explore, to learn.

Although my love for Minecraft had withered over the last six months, I was excited to find out what was in Minecraft 1.9. The last update introduced stained glass. What would this one bring?

It brought us beetroot, a major retooling of The End and the worst Minecraft session I have ever experienced.

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Discussion: Dead Words in Amber

Kairo players, did you discover this?

Dear subscribers, if you feel like chatting about anything at all from the April edition of the newsletter, please speak your mind in the comments here.


Dabbling with… Wrong Wire

The final episode of a short series on games I discovered at EGX Rezzed 2016.


And so we end where we started, with a prototype from Introversion Software.

In addition to Scanner Sombre, the other prototype they had on show was Wrong Wire, a bomb disposal game. The obvious touchstone is the local multiplayer game Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes (Steel Crate Games, 2015) in which a team of experts with bomb specification manuals have to work with the one player who has physical access to the bomb. Introversion designer Chris Delay gave me the impression it was a bit of GAH! moment when Keep Talking came out as this prototype was already under way!

Still there should be little to fear. Keep Talking is a party game while Wrong Wire is a single-player puzzle game.

When I sat down, I didn't realise that the previous player had rage quit leaving me with a fiendish bomb as my "tutorial". I thought, bloody hell, this is hard and there are no instructions at all. Once I figured out there was a restart button, all was well.

Wrong Wire was a hand-crafted experience rather than procedurally-generated. Each level posed a different threat and it made me wonder how far the prototype could go, because it didn't seem like a procedural mash-up of the elements on show would produce something necessarily interesting. That is, it came across like the amount of work invested in each level's design was disproportionately high compared to the amount of time you might play it.

Despite some fiddly issues with the controls (no NOT AGAIN, why does clicking here open the little glass door, I was reaching for the wire!) the prototype was an enjoyable series of puzzles to play through. I was definitely more wedded to Scanner Sombre, but I wouldn't be upset to see Wrong Wire on release down the line.

That's the end of this year's Rezzed series. Thank you to those who have been along for the ride!

Interested in the other games I dabbled with? Check out the series index!



Dabbling with… OASES

The sixteenth episode of a short series on games I discovered at EGX Rezzed 2016.


I'm not sure there's much to say about OASES.

A damaged plane is diving and then disappears through rainbow rings into darkness. The plane emerges--

--and then Shaun Green wrote in the comments for my entry on Fugl:

Seemed to either procedurally generate levels based on the associated music, or have a bunch of predefined levels that matched up, and you flew a light aircraft around these environments. I liked it, found it quite soothing and pleasant to try and rake my wingtips through little balls and blobs of colour.

I mean, yes, thank you Shaun. That took the wind right out of my wings a little too early.

It's described as kaleidoscopic elegiac ''flyscape'' and I guess that works. You get to fly around a fantastical space for a bit in a lazy, languid fashion - more like swimming than flying - with music and colour your companions. Maybe you'll see giant hands or giant trees. Maybe flowers. There is no crashing, there is no collision. Go on, try. Try to touch something. The plane will just go straight through like nothing was there. And you can play again and again, with a different beautiful flyscape each time.

When I played at Rezzed, it only explained itself after I'd been through the experience once. I wasn't going to mention it here, to allow you to go in cold like I did. Except if you go to the itch.io page for the game, its inspiration is printed right there for all to see. Shaun also mentioned it in his comment. And Kotaku wrote about it. But I'll continue to be coy regardless. You may find the message uplifting or trite but even if you're of the latter persuasion, it won't take away the loveliness.

OASES was developed by Armel Gibson, Dziff and Calum Bowen; it can be downloaded from itch.io right now.

Interested in the other games I dabbled with? Check out the series index!