Priceless Play — 25 April 2020


You only have five more days to play one of these

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Hey there, Priceless Gang. How are you doing? Are you getting enough sunlight? Going for your government-sanctioned walks? The weather has been getting warmer here in California, but the beaches are still closed. Sometimes I will walk all the way to the beachfront balustrades, give the ocean a little nod, and then turn around and walk back home. It’s nice to see that it’s still out there, not giving a damn. Enviable, tbh.

Here’s a quick little instalment of the latest free games on the ‘net that I think are worth your while. Ephemeral blink-and-you’ll miss it games, games with gardens, and games about the woods. Be good out there.

This, Too, Shall Pass from Marc Loths

This, Too, Shall Pass is a sombre contemplation of the climate crisis and the nature of ephemerality. Your level of interaction is low-pressure; wandering a particular climate zone and watching it change through day and night, rain and shine. Each version of the game represents a different climate zone, though it might be tough to get your hands on the others. For now, let’s settle with this replication of New Zealand’s flora. Perhaps you have heard about This, Too, Shall Pass for one of its many main conceits: there are five physical copies of it, four of which are travelling around the world by post. The “game/art project” from Marc Loths is one of a handful of his “commercially unviable lowbrow non-art” pieces, a phenomenal combination of words and a phenomenal collection of work. In addition to this version of the game, there’s also what he calls the game’s “B-side,” and “B-side remix,” a Twitter account, which tweets various stills from different versions of the travelling game, and the game This, Too, Has Passed respectively. You can purchase This, Too, Has Passed right there on its itch page, where its price fluctuates — reflecting the previous month’s average global temperature. A “minimum of $10 from every sale will go towards planting a New Zealand native tree through treesthatcount.”

I’ll be the first to admit that I found playing This, Too, Shall Pass intimidating: wandering a landscape set to an ominous (if gorgeous) soundtrack while being reminded of my fleeting mortality made me feel uneasy. If anything is keeping me preoccupied right now, it’s a consistent reflection on my mortality in the face of global disruption. So, to keep me from gnawing off my own bottom lip from anxiety, I painted flowers at my desk while traversing the virtual topography. I knew, however, that this version of the game wouldn’t last long: it’s an Earth Month/Earth Day special, only available until the first of May. I’m a sucker for getting to be involved with anything fleeting (basically one of my fave parts about being alive, imo), and getting a glimpse at this temporary New Zealand is absolutely right up my alley. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go water my plants.

Wood Walker from Memory of God

Memory of God are those same folks who brought you Where the Goats Are, a meditative, dystopic, farming sim. I’m a huge fan of their work, and I similarly love this little slice from their Ludum Dare 46 submission. Ludum Dare is a popular twice-a-year game jam, cropping up in Octobers and Aprils near you. The 46th instalment of the jam, which just wrapped up this week, went with the theme, “Keep it alive,” and seems to have an outpouring of clever games. I can’t wait to play a good chunk of the rest of them, but this simple little entry is lovely enough to keep me until I get to the rest. Well-lit and well-soundtracked, Wood Walker is just all-around… crunchy. I hope it’s a sign of something bigger to come. Tend the fire, gather the wood, make it through the night. It’s a good life lesson.

Desktop Meadow from Sam Person

I think I’m getting back into installable desktop companions. I remember thinking that they were the coolest thing in middle school — like covering my backpack in buttons and pins. After the Great Enamel Pin Rise of the past five years, I think there might be some solid stock in reinstalling all those desktop gifs and geese. Anyhoo, Desktop Meadow is just the sort of thing for me — little pixely wildflowers that sit at the top of your windows, and a little mailbox guarded by an equally little bird postman who will bring you itsy-bitsy post. Maybe it’ll take you ages to figure out how to uninstall, but I mean come on why would you want to? Stop and smell the roses, you guys.

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