Global Game Jam Picks – Session 1

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It’s that time of the year; Global Game Jam came to an end Sunday, bringing with it thousands of free games for you to enjoy. All made within 48 hours, these games range all across the indie-spectrum; from the ambitious 3D games to the charming 2D, as Jammers constructed new narratives, new game mechanics, and new ways to have fun. You may not have time to play all 4000+ games however, so we’ve collected ten of them for you to play. Because jam games are inherently short (anywhere from one to ten minutes) you can get through them all in a single session. Throughout the week we’ll be celebrating more of the games that innovated, inspired, or simply entertained.

Jammers: if you want to see your game in our next GGJ Session, feel free to send them this way

Iris - from Austin, USA

irisThis year’s theme “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are,” inspired a ton of games with interesting dynamics, and Iris is no exception. Iris is a young girl who appears hopeless and depressed, but a magic lens reveals a different, brighter perception that can manipulate the world. In the eye of the lens, dark monsters turn to bunnies, barricades become open passageways, and Iris will be able to navigate safely across each level. Thematic narrative, atmosphere, and gameplay come together in an short yet engaging game that deserves an expansion.

In Plain Sight - from Vancouver, Canada

in plain sightWhile not as closely knit to the theme, In Plain Sight is a turn-based strategy with some of the most interesting local multiplayer gameplay around. The core concept revolves around neither the player nor their opponent knowing who they are. Five creatures are spawned at random, and players must first deduce which creature they control before inferring which is the enemy and ultimately destroying them. The two players share the keyboard, with their respective keys representing a randomized set of moves on display for both of them to choose from. The enemy AI also selects a random set, so players will have to judge which enemy is moving methodically to determine which is the other human. It’s clever, tense, and a ton of fun.

Umbra - from Sao Paulo, Brazil 

umbraA little miss wears a dress and a straw hat while the darkness behind threatens to consume her. “Wait,” the game insists, as the darkness actually reveals new platforms ahead necessary for progression. Players must act quickly and maintain a safe position in the penumbra to survive. When the player falls behind, the already haunting soundtrack turns to a disturbing shrill evocative of a horror film; Umbra isn’t really scary, but it creates a thrilling atmosphere.

Haley - from Auckland, New Zealand

haleyAn endless runner that makes good use of an inherent gamer skill. Players simultaneously control both an innocent young girl and her reflection– an all-powerful, laser-beam-shooting witch. The game is fast paced and relies on the player’s ability to focus on multiple points on the screen. In hectic action, players must keep both entities alive, all while dodging and destroying obstacles. Ghastly specters threaten the witch, while a warehouse worth of bear traps keep the young girl on her toes. The game gets tough, so make sure to check out the practice room to play with the controls before heading into battle.

Bread Crumbs - from San Francisco, USA

bread crumbsA departure from the theme of darkness, Bread Crumbs is a “duck and relationship-problem-solving simulator.” The game is exactly what it advertises; quack, fly, and feed your family by making a sad man happy again. It’s oddly emotional for a duck simulator, featuring themes such as the loss of love, the maturation of family, and the hunger of ducks. Bread Crumbs also has a moment of introspection, as you ponder your true motive for cheering up the man. The game looks great, and the fetch-quest style gameplay is deceptively fun. Press up to fly, and space to quack– what more could you ask for?

Not Everything is Flammable - from Pittsburgh, USA

neifNot Everything is Flammable is like a platforming fire simulator for those pyromaniacs at heart. The goal of the game is to cause as much damage as possible by approaching flammable objects with, you guessed it, fire. Players can even “jump” the object currently aflame in order to closer reach the next desired item. Jumping too much or taking too long to ignite a new object will cause the fire to burn out and the game to end. If you’ve ever wanted to set a fridge on fire, but don’t have the patience to sit beside one with a match, then Not Everything is Flammable is for you.

The Tree - from Halifax, Canada

the treeAn incredibly bizarre 3D exploration game in which players capture living balls of energy and jam them into glyphed stones surrounding a magical tree. The world is a bit more expansive, and contains more dimensions, than the typical game jam game, at the sacrifice of polish. Despite its minimal, polygonal textures, it’s an interesting experience with enough mystery to drive the player forwards.

Human - from London, UK

human04“You have just been bitten by a zombie.” The latest from the darkly humorous Surgeon Simulator creator Tom Jackson is moralistic and emotionally provocative. You’ve been bitten by a zombie, but that doesn’t mean you’ll lay down and die– you’re human after all. As your life is surely ending, you are given the chance to help others by bringing food and medical supplies to distraught survivors. The game has some technical issues, but the heart of its message is enough to forgive it.

Claire’s Voyage – from Manchester, UK

claire's voyageThere was no official game jam site in Manchester this year, but that didn’t stop developer Alex Rose and his team from participating. Claire’s Voyage is a game that has players think outside the box in a way that only indie games can. With the facade of a generic platformer, Claire’s Voyage has players solve puzzles by looking at the world “objectively” through the eyes of a little companion computer-bot. Instead of simply navigating to a visual exit, players will have to satisfy “win conditions,” which players will first have to decipher. Mapped to such things as player position, key presses, and level interaction, Claire’s Voyage is both unique and entertaining with its problem-solving mechanics.

How Do You Do It - from Brooklyn, USA

how do itWhat’s so good about hugging? Kissing? Sexing? How many times, and in how many different ways, can you jam two naked dolls together before your mom gets home? These are the hard-hitting questions that How Do You Do It asks, and it’s sure to get a giggle even from those who take the subject matter more serious. How Do You Do It is not an end-all sex-ed program for the future, but a charming look at the modern taboo.