The Ugly Monster
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The Ugly Monster

Playing Every Game in the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality

PEGBRJE: MicroHorrorArcade Trilogy I — Andy’s Story and Plemora

Darkness.

I’m not even sure what I’m looking at.

MicroHorrorArcade Trilogy I — Andy’s Story is a trio of horror titles created by JayskiBean, an indie dev and video editor. All three tales feature a similar theme. A poor sap named Andy is thrust into situations in which his life (or unlife) is threatened by something he cannot stop without performing rituals or escaping.

Let me start with what each of these titles has in common, outside of their protagonist. Each of these three games puts players in a ‘Slender Man/Amnesia’ survival horror story. They are tasked with avoiding the terrors that plague them while collecting certain items and trying to escape. Each game incorporates this theme to fit the small narrative, while focusing primarily on the player’s ability to explore and discover hidden secrets outside of the mandatory items thanks to a limitation imposed on the enemy. These limitations do not stop enemies from being capable enough to catch the player if they become docile. This keeps the player on their toes while entering unfamiliar territory.

In Lanky Lonky, Andy is tasked with delving in the storage basement of his temp office supply job. Seemingly simple enough, he lacks some critical information. There exists a terrifying long-man down there who will eat him whole. Tasked with his checklist of weirdly specific items that sound suspiciously unlike any office supplies I have heard of, Andy will avoid this ‘Lanky Lonky’ and find each item in order so that he can escape and perform a ritual of some kind.

Escape the Poo Poo House features Andy as a damned soul (possibly because of getting eaten by Lonky). He must avoid the Poopoomen that spawn from toilets while collecting the keys in each room needed to activate the flushing system.

Dangle Dongle Farm has Andy revived as an undead in the corn field of Farmers Dangle and Dongle. This magical corn field contains a key that is needed to escape to the real world. I’m convinced these are in order, I swear.

As hinted at above, the key differences between these three experiences is in their variations on the rules of survival horror thanks to their aesthetic choices and enemy style. Lanky Lonky forces players to constantly duck in to different rooms through doors while uncovering what each item on the checklist actually is and trying to not get confused and/or unnerved by each room’s contents. Poo Poo House has constantly spawning Poopoomen (they’re spawned by walking by toilets), but do not chase effectively and can be maneuvered around. The challenge is in the need for constant motion to not get overwhelmed. Finally, Dangle Dongle Farm uses both farmer’s differing eyesights to impose lapses of judgement as player’s first reaction to seeing one is to figure out which is near and farsighted. There is also that pesky pig that steals the key to add even more layers to the issue.

Even with multiple deaths, the key is in the name: these three experiences are MicroHorror, and will take >1 hour to find at least a single ending. The importance of these three titles is less in their length and more in their ‘easter eggs’. You’ll find multiple endings and hidden items that give call backs to many other things.

As someone who avoids horror, I simply bolted for the exits. For any of you who enjoy the spookier things in life, try it.

As above, so below

Pleroma is an open world puzzle narrative created by Aleks Samoylov, an indie game developer and artist. Players are Diane Kestler, who has moved to start a new position at a strange collective of art gallery, research centre and studio. Of course, with this kind of position, one might surmise that there must be a reason for this kind of triple combo of a building.

There is, and one might go insane trying to figure out why. As above, so below.

What I can say with certainty is that players will be exploring Diane’s life, which is full of constant manipulation through time, space, and everything in between. Armed with a strange tuning device that lets players easily locate these anomalies, Diane and the player will find themselves in various locations throughout the town and time. In each location are notes and excerpts from Diane’s colleagues, either left for them to read or lost seemingly by accident. They paint a picture of who everyone (including Diane) is, what they are all trying to do, and why this niche establishment was started; the uncovering of an underground dead city.

This is truthfully all I can say with confidence. As one can surmise I went utterly insane attempting to decipher exactly what was going on. By reading the papers written by those researching the underground city, players can get a picture of what was going on, but never the entire picture. There’s always something missing, either our identity as Diane, who these people are, their relationships with Diane, what kind of TTRPG they were playing in their apartment, and why we are able to actively talk with ourselves.

By constantly blipping around, one can discover items they can use in different regions of the map, but must first decipher how these items are used, and will more often than not be faced with one daunting puzzle after another. And that’s assuming the players can even identify what is a puzzle and what is a lovely set piece. Sometimes they’re both.

I did not finish Plemora, nor do I feel ashamed to admit it. The game prides itself in its status as an interdimentional puzzle box, and in that it succeeds spectacularly. Every time I felt I was getting somewhere, I ended up at a dead end in the dark under that house by the stranger who keeps egging me on. I’m certain that the puzzles are optional, yet they constantly hang in the air as if to taunt me with their presence and leave me wanting to solve them. The atmosphere adds to the confusion, sprinkling in a bit of anxiety and fear as the darkness seems to shroud every corner in an attempt to isolate you, only for you to slowly begin to hope that the opposite is true and there might actually be someone in the dark to talk to. Maybe then the crushing weight and confusion would be lifted by that person’s helpful guidance. Then you could continue onward to find out just how Diane is tied to this entire thing.

As above, so below. As above, so below.

Text above, Links below

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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.

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