Welcome to the Electron Dance Advent calendar. Each day will bring another post from the archives.

qrth-phyl screenshot with the word "ghosts"

Have you read the two-part Returning Home posted on 13 November 2012?

I wrote reviews in the early years but I decided to quit formal “reviewing” because it didn’t add up to exciting writing for me. I mean, if you want a review, by all means go to a site which does reviews. I didn’t feel that was what Electron Dance was about. Avoiding traditional review structure meant that I could talk about games any way I wanted. I didn’t have to make judgements, I could just pick out something great, something weird or something flawed, something which would make for interesting words.

Matt James has a knack for putting out games which seem retro and familiar, yet the execution is something else altogether. I’d written a small, glowing review of his small, glowing 2D shooter Leave Home in 2010 but I always felt I’d done it a disservice. When I took a look at his next project, qrth-phyl, I was blown away by its quiet ambition. I decided to kill two birds with one stone, highlighting the beauty in both titles and show why James’ work was worthy of wider attention. It ended with the absolutely heartfelt line “this is an astonishing piece of work” but one tweet did admonish the two-parter as being a little on the navel-gazey side.

Curiously, Matt James is one of those people, like Michael Brough, who is cursed with being the game designer’s designer: high praise without the high sales. Don’t get the wrong impression, though, as James is happy with his lot.

Unfortunately for poor little me, his next title Δ was not released on PC so I do not know what it feels like. My impression from YouTube, though, is a twitchfest in the Super Hexagon mould that I might just bounce off. Except… I’d made similar assumptions about James’ earlier work, only to be proven wrong!

Go read Returning Home!

From the comments:

  • Badger Commander: “And we all know that Babylon 5 is is a big pile of shit.”
  • Steerpike: “These are the kinds of games I perennially miss.”
  • JonBro: “I kept finding myself craning my head towards the screen, trying to see around the edge of the camera.”
  • Jordan: “This is now on my “to-play-list”.”

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