Something to Watch: “Victor”

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Have you ever had a moment as a kid where you were completely alone? You know the kind. The one where your mind starts to wonder, your imagination brings the toys around you to life and the characters become a new kind of company. Well, some people have those imaginary adventures well into adulthood.

Enter today’s short film, Victor, the latest addition to the Vimeo Staff Picks playlist and the latest effort from directing duo Yeah Haus.The subject of the piece, a lonely craftsman named Victor, whose story wanders through the themes of “imagination, solitude and the sometimes blindfolded quest for happiness”. It’s a quiet, atmospheric and heartwarming seven minutes. Take a look!

For more about Victor, you can visit the film’s official site.

Something to Play: “Octodad: Dadliest Catch”

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Okay, so today I’ve come up a little short on brand spanking new things to talk about. So I’m gonna stretch back about a year to tell you about a little gem that I’ve just recently gotten to check out. Allow me to introduce you to Octodad: Dadliest Catch.

An off-shoot of the 2010 indie freeware game OctodadDadliest Catch places you in the role of a father and head of a 1950’s styled nuclear family. There’s only one little twist: you’re an octopus, disguised as a human. You’ve put on a good act so far, but you’re wife is finally starting to get suspicious and a psychotic seafood chef is doing anything he can to expose you for who you are.

The gameplay is built entirely around the concept of moving around without a skeleton. Each tentacle is controlled independently and you have to carefully coordinate their movements to accomplish your goals. You’re often being watched by others, so screw up too much and you’ll tip people off that you’re not human.

Depending on your tastes, you’ll either find the nature of the gameplay a huge amount of fun or extremely frustrating, but’s it’s definitely unique. I found the this clumsiness simulator pretty fun, for the most part. There are some parts of the game (the final level comes to mind,) that require so much precise control of your tentacles that it may take you more than a few tries to get it down.

From a representational perspective, Octodad also shines, again for the most part. The polygons can sometimes come off as a little too low-rez for one’s taste. But’s the art-style looks very pleasant, and the story is both charming and funny. The star of the show, Octodad himself, is excellently animated and his voice actor does a great job of embedding appropriate emotion and subtext in the characters blubbering.

Once you’re done with the story mode (and the two downloadable levels), there’s also support for the Steam Workshop.You can download and play mods, levels and experiments developed by fans. It probably won’t be enough to keep you entertained long-term, but it’s good for an amusing diversion.

So if you haven’t picked up this one already, there are two ways to check this one out. You can download it for PC and Mac from either Steam or the official site. If you want to wait just a little longer, it will also be available for download April 22nd on Playstation 4.

Something To Play: “Jazzpunk”

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So I’ve been looking over some of the indie stuff I’ve gotten my hands on in the months before I started this blog. I may be plunging into that archive a few times before this year is over. One particular thing that stuck out to me is a strange little game, developed independently by Necrophone Games and published to Steam by none other than the video game division of experimental comedy network [adult swim]. Welcome to the world of Jazzpunk.

Where do I even begin with this one? Well, the story (nonsensical as it is,) places you in the role of Polyblank, a secret agent running espionage missions in an alternate-reality Cold War era. But don’t be fooled. This is a absurdist comedy, first and foremost. You’ll be asked to perform completely insane tasks to achieve slightly less insane results.

Need to get into a room? Go collect a bunch of spiders in a jar and let them loose on the guard. Need to fool a security camera? Go the copy-machine, take a picture of your butt and show it to the camera. Get the idea?

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As you do these strange things, everything happening around you becomes even stranger. Suddenly, your boss’s office is becoming flooded with water and octopuses. Now you’re standing in a creepy land made of pizza. It’s best to just go with the flow.

Actually, the best thing to do (in my opinion,) is to follow the story straight through on your first go. Then, after the end credits have finished, play again and go as far off the beaten-path as possible to see what else you can do. There’s pigeons to smuggle, frogs-with-Mohawks to escort and references to other video games to find.

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Both playthroughs will only take you a couple of hours, but I think it’s worth the price of admission, anyway. It’s really funny and I don’t think you’re going to find a game with this sort of look and feel anywhere else. What else can I say? Jazzpunk is a game where you’re thrown into a weird little world and asked to go see what you can make happen. If that sounds like fun to you, then hop on board!

You can find Jazzpunk on Steam here.