Great Games Come in Pairs!
You know, if you read my blog from the beginning, that I am an avid flash gamer. If there is a hot new flash game, I pick it up and play it till it’s dead. I’m like those real game reviewers (like TheEscapist or EgoRaptor) only I get to do it for free! Hooray, online games! Also, I spend waaaay less time doing it, as a flash game takes a couple of hours MAX to beat, while even the most awful Xbox360 games (cough cough, Mirror’s Edge) take quite some time. Recently, however, there’s been a lull in the number of REALLY good flash games that come out. Sure, there have been some shiny shoot-em-ups and some quaint puzzle games, but nothing that really blew my mind with its awesomeness.
Cue the epic fanfare: 2DArray recently released a game called “Fixation,” a prequel to its smash hit, “The Company of Myself.” Generally speaking, flash games don’t delve much into the realm of psychology, seriousness and deep emotional meaning. I mean, dude, they’re just hanging out on your computer screen, soaking up time while you put off doing your research paper. (By the way, I’m putting off doing my research paper right now. Go procrastination!) But the thing is, “Fixation” is as serious as it gets. It’s a little strange – Actually it’s a LOT strange, but it is incredibly well-written, well-put-together, interesting and engaging, and is overall just a brilliant game. Play it here (I’m serious, play this darn thing).
So this game details the story of Kathryn, a chain-smoking, pink-jumpsuit-wearing smoker. She smokes. As a matter of fact, the biggest mechanic in the game is provided by her addiction. For crying out loud, the preloader and the logo are a cigarette and a pack of cigarettes, respectively. Ad placement, much? Anyway, our anti-heroine, Kathryn, is battling her problems, her messed-up life, and the messed-up lives of her friends. Technically, the game is a “platformer,” in that you have to jump and stuff, and blow smoke… but it’s mostly about the dialogue. She meets a guy named Jack, who changes her life in a very interesting way. The game’s mechanics are beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but the plot of this game is the best part by far. Jack’s text even appears jerky, to sort of imitate that he has a stutter. The level endings when Kathryn begins her journey dealing with her problems are always to the left. As she begins to delve deeper within herself, the exits move downward. As she begins to become stronger and overcomes her obstacles, the exits are to the right. Everything about this game is masterful. And it’s a flash game! I can’t even be funny about it, I’m so amazed.
Now, since you’ve beaten that game, you kind of understand that Jack has a serious problem. But here’s the thing, the game “The Company of Myself” came out 2 and a half years ago. And it is a very good “sequel,” as it were. I played it when it came out, way back then, and remembered that it was an amazing and interesting game. (That’s a shocker right there). 2DArray apparently has been making good games for a while now. The game mechanics are totally different, the art is totally different… but the thing I didn’t remember about it is how it ended. I just went back and played it while writing this blog. Lemme tell you, I was going to write this blog ranting and raving about how good these games are REGARDLESS of having gone back and played it, but now that I have, I am even more confident in my decision to support these people. I love quite a few game developers, I love quite a few games, but these provoke an incredible response in me (and a lot of other people, too, looking at the ratings). Here is “The Company of Myself.”
Folks, 2DArray is one of the highest-quality flash game developers that has ever existed. They have taken hold in a market that mainly provides shallow entertainment, and have done something artistic, something incredible and thought-provoking. For anyone that considers video games to be art, this game provides a huge argument for your point of view. And it’s not just these two. I’ve mentioned the game Fisher-Diver on my blog before, which is both unique in gameplay and interesting in plot (and psychological implications. I see a theme here). Then there’s the game Spewer, which, well… your main method of locomotion is projectile vomit. Fun game, once you get past the ickiness. No deep Freudian meaning there, I’m sure. But I digress. Their games are of such a consistently high quality that I have to applaud them for making art in a medium that so often settles for mere entertainment.
One last word of praise: TheDavidCarney is the guy who wrote the music for both games. He’s a well-known and well-respected flash game composer, and a friend of mine. If you played both games (as you really should have by this point), you’ll notice that the music (or lack thereof, in some spots) plays an incredibly powerful role in providing an emotional context for these games. In both, there’s a definite feeling of loneliness, but in Fixation, it’s more pronounced because you see Kathryn’s interactions with the people around her, and yet you understand subconsciously that she still is indeed lonely. David Carney, you rock.
I know that my blog is usually a tongue-in-cheek look at games, sometimes ranting, sometimes just being silly and giving you games you might enjoy, but today, I felt like I really needed to give these people their due. Hope you don’t mind. But, seriously? Please play the two games. It’s not like you didn’t just spend 15 minutes reading the frickin’ blog. Might as well get some game time out of it, am I right?
P.S. On a slightly less psychologically troubling note, I hit a thousand views this week! Thanks to everyone who reads. I’m not going to pretend this blog is “picking up speed,” but still! The sky’s the limit! 😀