20 – The Rebirth/The Reaper

Ben Chandler and Francisco Gonzalez have released a pair of games called The Reaper and The Rebirth. The Rebirth is credited to Gonzalez–I’ve played and loved his Ben Jordan: Paranormal Investigator series Back In The Day; I assume that The Reaper is Chandler’s. I haven’t played anything of his, though I’ll obviously be working on that.

The games were created for a competition or a game jam or something; here’s hoping it’s an early teaser for a larger collaboration because I know I’m sold. The games are surprising enough that I’ll suggest you go play for yourself, but since they both take about five minutes to complete, I’m not too worried about discussing them in a tiny bit of detail.

Both games are tiny vignettes with violent punchlines. Rebirth features a government official and his assistant trapped in the office while some sort of nuclear holocaust occurs outside. The Reaper seems to take place in the aftermath of the apocalypse, with two scavengers fixing some equipment and discussing superstitions around ravens.

Significant in both is a painting of a noblewoman which presides over two acts of violence and the use of Roman character names. The connections are so skeletal and yet the games so obviously parts of the same whole that–well, you can do this sort of thing and this sort of thing poorly, and quickly as they may have come up with the idea, there’s a story of what’s going on, and I’m hoping this diptych is an announcement.

Rebirth is probably the better game–while both are extremely easy simple one-room affairs, Reaper seemed to have a little more pixel hunting and a little more noticeable “Get a Thing on the left side and use it on a Thing on the right side and then turn on the machine and then go to the machine and then turn the machine off and use a Thing from the left side on the right side”. But then, Reaper has the better art–the cursor, which is a transparent shard of neon-green glass, struck me as especially notable and beautiful. In both, the shot of the bombed-out city is a horrifying mustard and black. Whatever game comes out of that, it is going to be fairly disturbing in any case, and I’m looking forward to that.