Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Mid-Knytt Snack

I'm always searching for good games. Heck, this blog is all about the gems I've found online. I found two such gems in a little corner of the Internet that belongs to Nifflas. At their most basic level, "Within a Deep Forest" and "Knytt" are throwbacks to a time when hopping from platform to platform was what playing video games meant. What sets Nifflas's games apart from the rest is their mood.

In both games, the mood is similar. It's this odd sense of desolation mixed with freedom that I've only experienced in dreams. When I was around 7 or 8 years old, I had a reoccurring dream in which I was completely alone. I don't mean "alone" like my parents had left me somewhere. In my dreams, I woke up one morning to find that everyone in the world, as far as I could tell, had vanished completely and, once I had walked around for a bit, I knew that they were never going to return. However, these dreams were not nightmares. They had this sense to them that I now had a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. With this responsibly came a sense of freedom.

The main characters aren't actually alone in these games. There are creatures that roam about, but they are certainly not your typical video-game monsters. For the most part, they're benign. These monsters don't typically interact with the main character; they are just going about their business as if you're not bouncing around or scaling walls in front of them. They are little more than interesting background props. The lack of interaction with other characters, along with the dreamlike ambient music, only serves to reinforce the mood of beautiful isolation.

These games are platformers; but they're platformers with a heavy dose of "Myst"-style exploration poured into them. Though the graphics are pretty simple, both of Nifflas' games stand out as stark dreamscapes of twisting tunnels and odd rock formations. All in all, these games are really quite spectacular. Follow the link and check them out for yourself.


Why play it? These are the only platformers that I can describe as "haunting" and not feel too cheesy about using that adjective. This is one of them.

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