This week, we're stuck in a maze of our own making. OK, it's actually a maze made by the talented Ian MacLarty. That means we're extremely unlikely to get out, so we have plenty of time to play some great games that came out (kinda) this week. Stick around for tricksy catacombs, puzzling souls, a raging fire and... Trump. Sorry, 'Drumpf'.
Catacombs of Solaris by Ian MacLarty
Catacombs of Solaris is the Magic Eye Puzzle of games, and my work is done here, you know what to expect now, goodbye. Alright, here's a bit more: it deposits you in a maze that's enormously difficult to explore, on account of the rippling, shifting textures plastered all over the walls. If you look closely, you can usually just about see the edges of walls, the demarcation of floor and ceiling— but then you're confronted by a big pile of pixel noise, and you completely lose your bearings. The wall in front of you is suddenly a corridor; that open corridor is now a solid wall. I'm not sure whether there's an exit to these colourful catacombs, but even if there's not, this is a maze worth losing yourself inside.
Paper Drumpf by Greg Buchanan
A smart piece of interactive fiction that puts you in the role of a gay, female advisor to Donald Trump (or, indeed, 'Daffy Drumpf'), in the final week of his presidential campaign, and beyond. This is more serious and more interesting than the silly name-swaps would lead you to believe, featuring a complex main character, and a chilling vision of a potential future (where 'Drumpf' secures the presidency and basically dooms the world).
ROM by Bincurl Games
A lovely bit of interactive entertainment where you're tasked with activating a bunch of machines on an abandoned island. As you hover over the switches, playing as a sort of floaty wisp, the island will change before your eyes. Winter will set in, freezing over a lake. A light will flicker on, revealing a hidden path. Hover over that switch over there and the rain will come. There's a bit of brainwork involved, to activate the switches in the correct order, but you should play this one for the rich atmosphere.
Soulstice by Ygor Speranza, Werther Azevedo, Wilson Melo
An entry for the recent GBJam, Soulstice is a co-op platformer (you can also play with yourself... and in the game). Across a series of levels, you're trying to get two characters to an exit statue, while managing their unique abilities. One player can double-jump, and the other can push boxes, and if both characters are near to each other they can swap powers by tapping the Spacebar. You'll need to use these abilities in concert to reach the exit statues, and this is obviously easier said than done. A good idea, and a particularly slick game.
The Disappearance of Eileen Kestler by Connor Sherlock, Cameron Kunzelman
Connor Sherlock, master of the quote-unquote walking sim, has made a playable teaser for his upcoming game Marginalia: a promising-looking remaster of a first-person horror he released some time ago. The Disappearance of Eileen Kestler acts as a sort of prologue to that, creating a rich mood with the use of powerful imagery, evocative voice-over, a lovely synthy soundtrack and some excellent editing. After playing through it, I'm very much looking forward to the main event.