Electron Dance

Electron Dance Highlights


Optical Delusion

This is the first part of a five-part series on INFRA.

I still think about INFRA (Loiste Interactive, 2016).

Over the course of eight months in 2019, I worked my way through this behemoth of a game. After an enormous Twitter thread of my progress, I wrote about it briefly and labelled it “one of my top love/hate games of all-time”, definitely right up there with NaissanceE (LimasseFive, 2014).

Why? Because INFRA was a game I misunderstood.

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SNKRX Is Way More Fun Than I Expected

SNKRX (a327ex, 2021) is an unusual snake-shooter hybrid released today. It popped up on Twitter in the last couple of weeks and I was smitten with the visual madness in which I couldn’t help but see a little Holedown.

Now it has some UI crimes to answer for but SNKRX is really compelling. It's lo-fi, lo-price and lo-pronounceable. The developer has described it as an “arcade shooter roguelite” but - and perhaps I’m too oldskool at this point - I’m not sure you need the word “roguelite”. But, hey, the marketing bods out there would probably disagree. Actually, they’d probably tell the developer to call it a “roguelike” because no one gives a shit about calling anything a “roguelite” and then I’d probably start chanelling my inner Raigan Burns about the sanctity of game taxonomies.

But let me tell you what SNKRX actually is.

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Goodbye Cruel World

Developer droqen is most famous for the endless vertical scrolling platformer Probability 0 released in 2012. Okay, fine, if you insist, it’s actually Starseed Pilgrim from 2013 he’s most famous for. I wrote about that game without spoilers, with spoilers and then I made a short movie about it (without spoilers).

On April 1, 2021, he released the game Cruel World which was commentary on cryptocurrencies, abusive to players and only on sale for 24 hours.

Today, it’s back on sale again, some players interpret the abusive design as meditational and I’m not even sure if it is about cryptocurrencies any more.

Welcome to this week’s edition of “the author is dead”.

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The Watchtower

Suppose I could send a message back in time, to the beginning of this. What would I tell myself? It started with mere curiosity, a beguiling black and white screenshot. I could not know I was charting a collision course for obsession.

Death Crown (CO5MONAUT, 2019) absorbed me in the way “ambient strategy game” Eufloria (Omni Systems, 2009) did a decade ago. Death Crown is a pick-up-and-just-fucking-play blend of RTS and tower defence. As each battle is mere minutes in length, Death Crown nailed a personal sweet spot that offered a real sense of achievement while respecting human time limits. And the monochromatic hex aesthetic proferred a whiff of intoxicating nostalgia, triggering memories of Ogre (Origin Systems, 1986) that were burned into my visual cortex, a turn-based war game I adored but never bested.

I completed Death Crown’s main campaign two months ago, as well as the “Era of Human” DLC. That should have been the end of it: bugger off back to your digital shelf, mate. I made the mistake of pulling back another curtain, to peek at the “Domination mode”. I reeled: Domination mode was a sequence of thirty hard-as-nails levels that you had to survive with just three lives. Nice try, you bastards. Ha ha, but no.

But, sigh, I was having too much fun with Death Crown. I wasn’t quite ready to let go. It couldn’t hurt, I thought, having a crack at Domination.

Today, Steam casually declares that I’ve played Death Crown for over 60 hours. Suppose I could send a message back in time, to the beginning of this. What would I tell myself? That it’s going to fuck you up?

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Wildfire in the Hole

It started with a single tweet, a tweet downcast about a high-profile negative review of Wildfire, a game I had not heard of before. I was instantly curious: I was sure the team behind it had some game design nous. So what had gone horribly wrong?

Wanting to know more, I asked for a press key and began a journey in June which I finally completed five months later.

Wildfire (Sneaky Bastards, 2020) is a glorious 2D stealth 'em up brimming with environmental interaction. The truth is there’s substantially more to Wildfire than meets the eye.

And that, unfortunately, was the problem.

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Side by Side: Season 5 Deleted Scenes

Side by Side is a video series on local multiplayer games. This is a bonus episode for the fifth series.

Due to the pandemic, Joel Goodwin of Electron Dance and Gregg Burnell of Tap-Repeatedly haven't been able to meet up to make a YouTube series they love, nor Side by Side. We're sorry for this.

But Joel had always planned to put out a "deleted scenes" episode for Series 5 (if you remember, we did say there would be a "bonus episode in January") and he kept putting it off because he was working on another film which was "important". Fortunately, he has come to his senses and realised his excuses have run out of gas. Enjoy the moments that were not included in the series simply because the episodes were already long enough. Even if most of them feature Daka Dara.

Bonus fictional game currency for anyone who figures out which Season 5 game does not appear in the deleted scenes.

If you enjoy the series, please like our videos and subscribe to the Side by Side channel.

Watch the video here or direct on YouTube.


Before The High Tide

This is the final in a series of five musings on Control. Previously: Behind the Poster, Use of Weapons, Reverse Shock and Slave to the Rhythm.

There will be spoilers.

So: you reach the final boss. It’s what you’ve been working up to. Sometimes a game sticks the landing, sometimes it fluffs it and the magic withers.

But what happens if you get there and you just don’t know how to proceed? Like that one level in a puzzle game that you just can’t best. You give it your all but it isn’t enough to get you through. The energy wanes. You lose interest. You put the controller down. Maybe you don’t pick it up again.

This isn’t what happened in Control; this is an analogy for what happened to this essay, my final post on Control.

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Puzzleworks, 3: Akurra

In April, good Electron Dance friend Maurycy Zarzycki, who designed the short, free puzzle game Machine at the Heart of the World (Evidently Cube, 2018), tweeted this right at my face: "You should check the demo of Akurra if you haven't yet heard about it. It's a bit of a cross between Sokoban, Legend of Zelda and The Witness - a freeroam puzzle game by [Jason Newman]. Something tells me you'll like it."

Come on, you can't namedrop The Witness carelessly like that in a tweet. That's like saying "if you like Citizen Kane, you might enjoy this film." Bwahahaha. Anyway joke's on me because I had far too much fun with Akurra.

Nutshell: Open-world Sokoban-variant rife with secrets to discover, still in development.

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Not So Far

There was a lady in the village of Lyndow. Tifa her name was and she offered me a ride on the back of her cart to the city of Nava. But when I tried to take her up on her kind offer, she admonished me. I asked why.

“You’re a newcomer and you’ve never been to Nava! It’s not so far and the walk is lovely. Everyone going to Nava for their first time should approach by foot. I won’t be the one to cheat you out of an enriching experience.”

Eastshade, you know me very well. More than you think.

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Puzzleworks, 2: Tametsi

There was some excitement over a Sudoku video last week, the "Miracle Sudoku", where a handful of arcane rules and just two numbers allows a Sudoku expert to fill the board. And it blows him away after he initially thought it was a joke.

And I thought, well, that's how Tametsi makes me feel.

Nutshell: Hard Minesweeper with interesting ruleset. Later levels take me an hour per board. Unfinished.

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