Just Browsing - This week in Browser gaming...Platforms: All
After last week's speed-frenzied rush of games, it is a welcome return this week for Just Browsing to rather more ‘developed’ planes. Like half a wedding present, it brings you something old, something new - both of which you should certainly view. Click the links in the pictures or the names to find your way to being entertained...
It’s hard for me to believe this is 8 years old. Back before Facebook was even a twinkle in Mark’s eye and Twitter had yet to hatch from its nest, Samarost by Amanita design splashed onto the scene. Somewhat of a cult classic in the casual games world, this gem paved the way for the merging of art and interaction in browser gaming. While the gameplay can be hastily described as ‘point and click and hope’, its not the fun you should be looking out for, but the beauty. The backgrounds can only be described as stunning and the animations of the cartoon characters are cute and bizarre beyond suitable words.
Amanita design have gone on to create some fantastic games since then. You should also check out the second Samarost as well as Machnarium if you enjoyed this.
Philosophy is not something that often plagues the casual gaming world. Where bite-size chunks and quick fixes are the norm, thoughts on humanity and existence are usually far from one’s mind.
The End, a partnership between Channel 4 and Preloaded, tries to change that.
In what can only be described as a hydra of a game, with several roaring, rearing faces, the aim is discover, ominously, what happens at 'The End' of it all.
One head proclaims it is a puzzle platformer, if a little light on substance, with a clever twist. At the touch of a button you can create shadow paths to climb upon, which adds a nice new dimension to a tired old genre. Add in some clever, though often clumsy, physics and there is some fun to be had solving the levels and facing the next stage.
A second, fire breathing, head states it is a clever, if simplistic, multi-player tile game. After each platform level you face an intelligently challenged ‘boss’ who invites you to a game of ‘death cards’. Taking it in turns you place your cards strategically onto the board and try to gain the upper hand by flipping your opponents tiles and winning the duel.
Yet a third head dives in, acid dripping from its fangs, arguing that this is an ‘edu-game’, teaching the world about the deep thoughts of philosophers and writers throughout history. At the end of each level you are posed a question which defines where you stand in the great scheme of things. The game even goes to the lengths of plotting your opinion on a ‘death dial’ which shows where you stand compared to the great writers throughout history.
A final, meek, head pops up and chirrups in that you can bring your friends too. As is the current trend for all browser games, you can connect to facebook and compete with your companions for scores, battle against them and even compare your philosophical identities. One imagines soon children across the world will be sitting in their armchairs in front of a fire discussing the merits of Machiavelli...
Despite these bitter, twisted, heads often snapping at each other and creating a rather confusing experience, The End is still an exceptional game. With a the power of Channel 4 on board, the production levels are higher than what is usually expected from a free game. Everything down to the details and animations are highly polished and the way the whole site flows is a joy to behold. Perhaps the actual game design leaves a little to be desired, but if you are interested in philosophy, but can only warrant the time to play browser based games, and not dig through the entire of Plato's back catalogue, then this is certainly for you.