A coffin filled with border control landing cards. A broken toilet on a luggage conveyor. Burning palm trees. A man wearing a Hawaiian shirt with a machete in his back. A single egg, still in its shell, resting on a plate with a knife and fork. These are just a few of the troubling images I saw in Defective Holiday, a bizarre 45-minute game about someone going on vacation. Probably?
Defective Holiday begins with a voice, maybe a travel agent, telling you that they really shouldn't be selling whatever it is you're about to buy. "You know what this kind of trip can be like for some people," she says ominously. And things just get stranger from there as I find myself being guided through a series of increasingly surreal, vaguely holiday-themed vignettes.(opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)
Some of them I get to wander around; others I just watch something happen. But whatever the case, after an amount of time the screen fades to white and I find myself in another curious situation. Each scene seems random, but the longer you play, the more you notice certain things that act as a kind of odd connective tissue. Hawaiian shirt guy. Coconuts. A hotel flyer.
All this might mean something, or it might not. I don't know if solo developer Kim Laughton is trying to say anything here, and honestly, I don't really care: I'm just enjoying the ride. Defective Holiday does weird really well, and there's an unsettling atmosphere in many of these scenes, for reasons I can't quite put my finger on. A rumbling sense of dread, rather than something overt.
At one point I see a close-up of a jet engine with the words THIS IS ALL THERE IS printed on it, which feels like it's aimed at anyone playing Defective Holiday and wondering, well, is this it? Other inscrutable images in the game include swan boats littering a desert, a space hopper in the back of a taxi, and a man driving in circles on a lawnmower. Why? Well, I guess that's up to you to interpret.(opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)
You can get Defective Holiday on Steam (opens in new tab) for free. If you're into weird, arty stuff that skirts the edges of what a 'game' is, or just fancy being creeped out for 45 minutes to an hour, it might be worth your time. I certainly won't be forgetting the experience any time soon, but your mileage may vary massively.