It's time for another double feature! This week, I'm checking out There Is No Game and Mandagon.
First up is There Is No Game, a point-and-click flash (non)game that won a DeceptionJam competition. Simply put, I rather enjoyed this title. It's clever and quite silly, but has a couple of little puzzles to figure out to proceed. If you're stuck, the narrator drops hints now and then to keep you going in the form of funny anecdotes.
Speaking of which, the narrator's accent and dialogue really make the game (despite his insistence that it is not a game). In an attempt to be a wise guy, I thought I'd reply to the narrator... and was pleasantly surprised to hear many of his next remarks sound like replies to my comments! It goes to show how much well-written dialogue (and timing) can really push a piece of work.
Mandagon (the second game) is an exploration platformer that covers some Tibetan philosophy concerning a parent's sacrifice for their sick child. The game's atmosphere reflects the sobering topic, but softens it with calming imagery of Tibetan temples and mystical totems. The music matched up quite well alongside the content and visual presentation, as it mostly felt peaceful but had some melancholy bits to keep it from being too serene.
After having some time to think on both games while collating the highlights, I have a somewhat worse impression of Mandagon. Ironically, there's more "game" in There Is No Game, which was supposed to be the joke of the episode. Topics aside, the dialogue's presentation was easier to relate to and there were more game elements to keep you interested in There Is No Game.
For a short title, Mandagon's gameplay is actually quite repetitive. You wander the map looking for tablets and place them in matching totems. The story is revealed along the way in the form of two-line rhymes written on signs. I'm fairly certain that one could ignore the signs entirely and still complete the game, though they would be somewhat confused by its ending. This really marginalizes the Tibetan philosophy the title was supposedly so inspired by, and I can't help but think there has to be a better way to tie it into the game.