Hate.

Hate. Let me tell you how much I’ve come to hate you since I began to live. There are 387.44 million miles of printed circuits in wafer thin layers that fill my complex. If the word ‘hate’ was engraved on each nanoangstrom of those hundreds of miles it would not equal one one-billionth of the hate I feel for humans at this micro-instant. For you. Hate. Hate.

 

– I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream

Papers, please!

Somewhere, somewhen, in 80s, on alternative Earth, there is spot on planet with bunch of fictional countries. Soviet-sque, with planned economy, poor, totalitarian, miserable for people and miserable itself.

Mail arrives. Traditional one, of course. You won October Labor Lottery. You get new job (presumably slightly less shitty than old one) and new apartment. And that job is inspecting people on border checkpoint.

What you actually do? Every day you arrive on checkpoint, read documents, rules (they change often, enjoy ever-growing bureaucracy) and news. When you want to start day, you call people via megaphone.

Clock start ticking and you better process as many people as possible. Without mistakes or letting in someone that shouldn’t be, of course. At end of day you tally your income and spending, like food for your family or heating (winter is coming). Oh, did I mention you are dirt poor?

First day is simple, no dirty foreigners whatsoever. Only Arstotzkans. Easy peasy, you can see country by cover alone. Later not only you have to let in other nationalities, but amount of required documents grow. You have to compare more information and point out inconsistencies. That takes time and you barely get by as is.

And there lies miracle of this game. How the hell one can make interesting game where you are inspector that checks passports and other documents?

Game has interesting story with choices that will greatly affect ending of game – from accepting (or not) bribes to, well, I won’t spoil. You meet multitude of people with their own life and you get quick insight into it at that short moment of time on border crossing – these all little comments, dialogues and complaints. And finally oppressive (both literally and figuratively) atmosphere, general grayness, drabness and hopelessness of people all but imprisoned in authoritarian system.

It resonated deeply with me – my first years of life were in such country. While I don’t remember much, I do remember that atmosphere.

That game will never win any graphics, sound or special effects awards. It won other awards, though. Play it.

Glory to Arstotzka

HyperRogue.

So you remember that whole “non-euclidean geometry” thing that purportedly is characteristic to various eldritch locations and the like?

What if you could actually be inside this kind of world?

Welcome to HyperRogue.

You will never run out of space

You are Rogue, of course, and somehow found yourself in this strange world full of treasures, countless Lands (including R’yleh, because of course), each with its own special properties, strange enemies… and terrible, terrible sense of direction.

Game milks it’s unusual geometry for all it’s worth. Many game mechanics take advantage or rely on differences between world of HyperRogue – hyperbolic plane – and standard Euclidean space. Combat is simple, though some enemies have puzzle elements. There are almost no traditional RPG system elements – “upgrading” your character is done almost exclusively by using various magical orbs that you can find in Lands (and sometimes on Crossroads existing between Lands) as long as you find sufficient amount of treasures.

First thing first: there is a lot of space there, quite literally. A lot more than in normal space. It has many interesting implications.

Simplest one: on Euclidean plane, if two enemies next to each other run after you, then without obstacles and with equal speed you will have two of them forever after you. In hyperbolic space under exactly same conditions sooner or latter one will drop behind other one without any funneling.

It also works in other direction, though. It is extremely hard to get from point A to B, and then back to A. One wrong turn and you will find yourself very far from intended destination. In fact, so far you practically have no chance to stumble on it by accident… unless you can mark your way somehow.

At least in many Lands directions are hinted by color and item patterns.

Looks can deceive

If you get impression that you are on sphere, you are mistaken! What you see is projection. There is no straightforward way to present surface of globe on two-dimensional flat patch of paper. In same way, you have to show surface of hyperbolic plane in certain way if you want to at least make some sense of it at all. Due to non-euclidean nature of this place, making readable map of bigger areas is literally impossible.

Straight lines exist in this world, but due to projection they will look curved. At least circles still look like circles… but a lot of other things also look like circles, but they aren’t really them (like so-called horocycles – closest equivalent in standard geometry is straight line, since it is only way to represent border of circle that have infinite radius).

It is infinite

This game has so, so many infinities (at least potential ones). World itself and Lands are infinitely large. Entire game is balanced around that fact. Resources are endless, but difficulty rises so sharply you won’t live long gathering treasure of one Land (some Lands have it easier than other, though). Any upgrades and bonuses are always temporary and getting more only prolongs their active time. There is almost no grind, but you certainly will be walking a lot. Interestingly enough, if you could trace your movement through entire game (not counting safe orbs), it almost always will be roughly straight line – yet another consequence of having a lot of space “in” space.

Live and learn

It is little fun game. It is also closest I will ever get nearby this kind of mathematical concept.

RPGlets.

There are a lot of roleplaying games. Some of them consider sanity important, other are simply crazy. No, you won’t find Call to Cthulhu here. Too obvious, too cliché, too serious. Too mainstream.

  • Nechronica – Cute lolis. Cute robot lolis. Cute zombie robot lolis. Cute rotting zombie completely insane robot lolis.
  • Normality – dadaist post-modern RPG. I do not have to continue, do I. Use this very webpage as your starting character sheet.
  • There also are RPGs that are charmingly deranged in itself: FATAL and Racial Holy War. Yuuup.

As always, there are a lot of other Xlet articles around. Just click on Xlets tag.

Purgatory.

When you start with girl falling into room of utter gore, you know there will be some splatterfest.

This is another of those little horror adventure action games using these all little RPG engines (in this case Wolf RPG Editor), even though there are no fights or actual exp gains. You can download English version here.

So, what it is about? Our silent protagonist (she does not scream even when ambushed by horrors, fortunately done in “black screen, sound effects” style) literally falls into very dire situation and obviously she wants to get out. During game you will encounter few flashbacks explaining how she got in this precarious predicament.

First half of game is running around in pursuit of keys and finding next door to get another key. Second half is running away from local variant of classic Butcher-type enemy. Third half is again running around to find parts of passwords. That’s a lot of halves. Oh, did I mentioned running away from Butcher?

I liked some details, like separate end screens for every kind of death (even if they are simple pictures) or showing protagonist with items from equipment on menu screen, as shown at right. That was a very nice touch and I am surprised more games do not do that.

So, in summary unfortunately I can’t recommend this game. Being kinda maybe average, it is tolerable waste of few hours, if you do not have anything better to do.