The Ugly Monster
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The Ugly Monster

Playing Every Game in the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality

PEGBRJE: ‘Equaboreal 12.21’ and ‘Void Wisp’

Sentient plant people and a Flappy Bird-like in space

Plant in a hotsprings. Who knew?

Equaboreal 12.21 is a narrative adventure created by Phoebe Shalloway, an indie dev based in the United States. Players will find themselves in the curious roots of Lily, a member of this plant town that has moved north to escape the frost at the expense of consistent light.

Essentially, Lily and her townsfolk are sentient plants that originally lived near the equator. Upon the weather change, they decided to move north, but have trouble acquiring enough light to ward off spirits and sustain themselves. To this end, light is bottled and shipped to them, where they make offerings to shrines to keep the ‘lights on’, so to speak.

The events of Chapter 1 establish this information while hinting at the upcoming event; the Solstice, he most important time for their people. The town wants it to be special and so they ship Equatorial light just for this event. Players explore the town as Lily before the light arrives, meeting with others that have memories to share and stories to tell. Chapter 2 — which comes free — expands this tale further and lets players dive in to more of what makes this title so strange.

I know this is all a tad vague, but short narrative games are extremely easy to spoil. Both chapters only run 15 minutes each, and are meant to be experienced quickly and in a single sitting. It features a strange aesthetic of plants and polygons that you can’t help but look at from different angles, and the story keeps its mysticism as you move forward. If you want a tale that seems almost folklore-like, then here you are.

It’s really hard to get a picture while also trying not to die. I failed, obviously.

Void Wisp is an arcade runner crafted by D.W O’Boyle, an indie dev also based in the United States. As a wisp in the great nothingness of space, players will try to collect as many points as possible by nearing collisions without actually colliding.

The description sounds a bit odd, but Void Wisp is easy to understand when you compare it to Flappy Bird. The wisp will go higher as players click and hold MLB, while gravity will take hold once the button is released. This, however, makes it extremely difficult to be within range of the obstacles to be juuuust close enough that the outer limit of the wisp is touching, but the core is safe. Thankfully, there is a second button to press — RMB — which allows the player to glide. Gliding works as expected, stemming the pull of gravity while drifting across the screen at a pace similar to a slow downward arc. It can be used indefinitely as long as the right mouse button is held, and in combination with the left mouse for more precision.

The longer the grind against an obstacle, the more points are accrued. Failure to grind results in the slow loss of points, incentivizing constant obstacle hunting. There is also a ‘hidden’ mechanic where grinding actually helps keep the wisp alive. When players hit an obstacle with the core while grinding, the platform is destroyed but the player is cushioned to keep going.

This alone makes it extremely unique in its genre. But rather than just being an infinite survival title, Void Wisp takes it one step further by introducing multiple game modes and randomly generated map styles.

Classic Mode is the standard, where points are lost as time moves onward. Caravan is a ‘speed’ round of sorts, as players attempt to acquire as many points as possible within a time limit. Survival is a bit tricky, as the game becomes faster the more points that have been acquired. Traveler is the final mode and most akin to a ‘campaign, as the levels are premade with set goals to achieve.

The developer added a lovely blog post about the design philosophies behind the title, so if you want to know more about what brought this game to life, it is linked below.

Combined with its extensive accessibility options, Void Wisp is a simple game that capitalizes on its unique twist on the mechanic to maximize the fun. It gives that ‘just one more run’ feeling that sucked me in to titles like Flappy Bird, and will easily do the same for you if you enjoy this style of game. Add on the vapor dream aesthetic, and you’ve got yourself a fantastic game to relax and stress out to at the same time.

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Jacob Vorstenbosch

Jacob Vorstenbosch

Just a Game Dev who decided to take on the monumental task of giving an overview of all 59 pages in the bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. We keep going.