The Cat and the Coup

This was a beautiful offering and an interesting way of encouraging engagement with historical events.

The graphics and interactions are symbolic.  I experienced this as more of an interactive text with an element of ‘game’ to make more of a connection than just reading/watching might.

The animation style is very friendly, for want of a better word – it feels real because it’s not trying to be realistic; it’s a collage in exactly the same way the story is a collage.  I love it when the medium of storytelling matching the storytelling.

The story itself was well out of my sphere of awareness, being not American, not Iranian, not British, and not born until the 80s, so I probably missed a lot more depressing references.  My main reaction to the actual content, historical and real, was “huh, well, typical” in relation to the US/Britain, with the game-structure/text-structure meaning any empathy I felt was for Mossadegh, knowing nothing else of his term of service than what the game showed.

This was in beta only; will be interested to see if the format develops into a more complex textual unwrapping of history.  It’s a very innovative format in any case.



A Story About My Uncle

Beautiful environment, great physics and quite seamless.

But otherwise, just a lot of leapfrogging.

…in all honesty, this is not a fair comment for this game, which I can imagine would have struck a younger me much like Myst did back in the day, with wonder and amazement that gaming could even be like this.  But now, the comments are coming after a series of progressive disillusionment with gaming in general.

I wonder if the step into VR will make the point of difference for gaming like this, particularly for us jaded middle-agers.

Magic Carpet – Flashback

GOG reminded me of this game today with their EA discount package.  I had no recollection of it until I found a graphic of this little monstrosity (original found on


The flashbacks of horror.  The nightmare of these things, dying and dying and dying, then suddenly watching one burst into gold balls with no idea of what I’d done or how I’d done it.  The grand difficulty of being 11 and having no idea how to play this game to begin with, no user manual (I liked user manuals) and gaming context consisting of Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Wolfenstein 3d, Captain Comic and Curse of the Azure Bonds.

Even looking at this fuzzy screencap, I’m filled with gleeful annoyance at the memory.


In the vein of Amarita Studio’s Botanicula and Machinarium.  By comparison, Morphopolis suffered from a much less intuitive interface.  When I get stuck, not on the puzzle itself, but on working out how to exit from the puzzle screen, there are interface issues.

The art style is lovely and music appealing, but the interface is just overwhelmingly annoying for an experience which is supposed to be immersive.  The background is much less interactive than Botanicula’s whimsy.


Gotta love the minimalist interface and the way the ‘levels’ are all always present – it’s the camera’s focus that foregrounds or backgrounds.  I also like the way they tied in the title sequence to this.

The concept and motion physics is also quite good.  Unfortunately, I have a very limited attention span these days for puzzle games which rely solely on keyboard dexterity for success.  The difficulty also ramps up a lot, very quickly, making anything beyond about level 3-5 questionable in keeping my attention.

Papers, Please

This game is like being at work, every day, and I despise it.

Unless you’re on easy mode, you have to make constant sacrifices.  Corruption and bribery starts to look good because it’s the only real way to get ahead.  And still the endless grind, grind, grind…

It is an exceptionally good and original game.  I can see how people love it so much.  But someone like me (useless at roleplay) can’t play it.  I can’t take a bribe.  I can’t detach from the familiarity of a working day long enough to make myself take a bribe.  It’s terrible.  This game is the opposite of escapism.  This is the horror of the mundane.  It is locks me back in that box of daily fear of poverty and struggle and constantly being subject to greater powers with no moral way to get ahead, and the pressure of surrounding people always trying to make me take the unethical route.

All I do in this game is play it straight and get punished for it.  I am hopeless.  Kudos to the maker, Lucas Pope, for something so evocative: other works here.


A link to the game: here.

This is somewhat amazing, but more amazing is the community outpour it’s generated. Surprising kitten civilizations etc which span over months, if not years, of simply letting this game run in the background with good harvesting tactics.

I was entertained for several hours. The initial efficiency curve is hard, then suddenly things begin to stabilise. But improving your efficiency (speed of mastering new things and becoming more than an agrarian fledgling civilisation) requires growing your population, which then increases risk of death and failure again — those kittens are hungry in winter. Another long 10-20 min struggle to stabilise again, then the pace begins to chafe; you spawn another kitten, and the struggle begins again.

What I found really fascinating about this is how this text based version of a civilisation development game recast the more graphical Civ and Sim games in a new light. I used to play those all the time without ever really being conscious of time or resource accrual – because it was turn based, not a literal counting down of seconds.

In the end my impatience and anxiety (everything has a counter!) made a bad combination for pushing through with this game much beyond the discovery and farming of unicorns, but it was definitely worth the memories.


Not for me.

Passive gaming.  Start the window and watch it run.  The so called whimsical delights that other gamers keep raving about jarred me with their decontextualisation.  How did they get there across space?  What logarithm governs their appearance?  Someone wrote a review which posited the random crap pummelling your mountain out of existence was a metaphor for what people are doing to the earth now. Come on.

I would have enjoyed it more if it followed a randomised evolutionary cycle — start with a rock, a comet of ice shatters on it and creates water/atmosphere.  Algae grow.  Is it a water world, is it an alpine world, does it evolve dinosaurs which never die out, does every organism have a trigger point somewhere in their evolutionary cycle for the development of sapience and civilisation, so the game is really about hoping a randomised comet doesn’t kill off the evolving animals before interesting things really start to happen.  Can ALIENS land and colonise.  And so on.

I was attracted by the concept of just watching a mountain experience events, but I wanted a different game.