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Weekend Play: Kairo, Surgeon Simulator 2013, Heart The Beat

Dead Space 3 is out as of Tuesday. So far, I think it’s great and everyone who either likes science fiction, fantastic shooting, or creatures that erupt into other creatures should play it. If you have misgivings about the direction it has taken given the horror-gone-cooperative-play slant with respect to the first two games, then maybe you should read about why I think it’s fine (and possibly a benefit) to the series that it changes itself so often.

Oh, also, I’m still powering through Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch because I hate myse—err, because I love JRPGs. Yes, that’s why. No, I’m not crying. Don’t look!

Kairo

Just like Proteus from last week, I have a feeling there is going to be a solid amount of people that just won’t like Locked Door Puzzle’s Kairo. It’s not a matter of “getting it” as it’s a fairly easy concept to understand: Kairo is another exploration game wherein you wander around large, open environments and mostly prescribe meaning from yourself to its contents. Aside from a few bits and pieces here and there that vaguely hint at a bleak future left abandoned, it’s all up to you to find what the game is trying to convey to you.

Unlike Proteus, though, Kairo has puzzles, and good ones at that. Every interaction with the game is defined by the puzzle (aside from walking and looking, both of which are constants to the world), so it’s like everything you encounter is a new experience, which is just the cherry on top of the sundae. The sounds are unsettling and ambient to the degree of malaise and the visuals are stark but rich and alone are enough to inspire exploration (it feels like something new is always within view but just barely out of reach).

Spend an afternoon wandering Kairo and you won’t be sorry.

Surgeon Simulator 2013

This little gem is the result of this last Global Game Jam. Well, it’s also the result of what I assume is some sort of mild psychosis and a healthy dose of recreational drugs, but it remains a gem nonetheless. Surgeon Simulator 2013 puts you at the hands (or rather, hand) of Nigel Burke. He is a lot like you in that he has little to no experience being a surgeon. The difference, however, is that he inexplicably has to perform a heart transplant and he has to do it now. Also, he’s a lefty. Also, apparently, he’s only a lefty.

Surgeon Simulator 2013 is basically a broken game (it is, after all, the result of a weekend game jam), but it is so stupefyingly engrossing that I can’t believe this hasn’t been fully fleshed out into a real game before/yet/always. Everything—everything—is Havok physics’d out and the process is simplified to the point of being dumb, but the fact that you have such fine control over Nigel’s arm (including rotation and individual digit actuation) makes it so compelling. Also, this video is pretty great.

Heart the Beat

This needs to be a mobile game. It already is, I guess, if you have an Android phone that can run Flash, but regardless, Heart the Beat seems perfect for mobile gaming. It is not endless in nature, but you can’t even really die as you thump along to the music and collect things to boost your score multiplier; it just resets to 1x if you hit a wall. But combine its visually soothing colors and sharp, energetic movement with the hard, bumping music and you have a pretty fun game to play for a few minutes at a time.

Given that there’s no punishment for performing poorly other than further propelling you down that “performing poorly” tunnel, there’s little overt impetus to actually try and yet I still found myself going for getting that multiplier up as high as I could. As the product of the same game jam as Surgeon Simulator 2013, there are some oddities to the game (e.g. visible boundaries), but I still found Heart the Beat worthwhile.

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