My Favorites + Sick Sick Solitaire Post-mortem

Ludum Dare 33 was a little rough for me, as I had to stop my game early for illness. However, I did a fair amount of streaming and played some great games! Here were my favorites, followed by a postmortem for my own entry at the end.

Cruelty Free


My favorite thing about this game is how the team focused the polish on all the bits that totally sold the fantasy of running around as a rat. The camera angle made me feel anxious about what was above. The animations on the rat were adorable and believable. The animations on the scientists were elegantly done – the same animation over a counter looked like “working” while out in the open looked like “searching for rat.” All the details that they pushed compelled me to hide in nooks and scurry around corners and believe that I was a rat. The payoff at the end was also nicely done – a simple solution with big impact.

Tenebrous Expanse


This was a game built on mechanics (essentially a cross between minigolf and billiards with a rubber band attached) but did an excellent job of layering compelling mood and atmosphere on top of that. It very simply made the game feel like a complete whole while sticking with minimalist visuals and effects. The ramp-up in levels and how they slowly constrained elements until it became about making perfect shots was nicely done (and the spiraling level select menu was certainly something I’d never seen before!)

Beast of the Woods


It looks like a common theme with my favorites this Ludum Dare is “elegance” and completeness of the package, and here’s another one that does a great job of that. There are so many wonderful touches that totally make me buy into this world – how the music intensifies with proximity to your prey, how your monster hands creep onto screen when you get within lunging range, how your victim whips around to see you just before you strike. Every effort spent in this entry works together towards a common experience, and that is no easy feat in the compo!

Sick Sick Solitaire Postmortem


Now for my sickly little entry. I had never made a digital card game before, so that’s the idea I decided to tackle. In the game, the black cards are “bad” but you are forced to use them to advance play, so the result is a tricky, brain-stretchy sort of solitaire.

It was inspired by a few things:

  1. Four Seasons Solitaire, which was always my favorite type growing up
  2. Cooperative games where you have to play for “the game’s” turn, like Eldritch Horror (which I have been playing a ton of lately). I wanted to see if there was a way of getting that feel of you having to play “for” the bad deck in a simple card game.
  3. Once Upon A Time, my favorite card game, specifically for its elements of being cooperative and competitive at the same time. I liked that tension of having to use the “bad” cards to advance play. I also had plans to incorporate this more into the theme, but was unable to finish.

For the curious, my plan to theme this game was to make it about two monsters that had made a mess of the knight’s prized plate collection, and were trying to clean it up before he showed up. You played little sister monster and big brother monster was trying to pin the blame on you. You were trying to finish cleaning up your stack before him, so you could accuse HIM of being the monster who made the mess when the night showed up. I had some pretty cute monster sketches all planned out, but alas, it was not meant to be.

When I woke up on Sunday and realized I was too ill to finish, I was pretty disappointed.  I mulled about scoping down and pushing through it, but health woes have been stacking up on me and I knew I had to choose to take it easy. I’m glad I at least had something playable to put up, but it was hard to have my first Ludum Dare where I wasn’t able to properly finish.

However, the ability to choose not to finish something is a life skill all the same! There is always next Ludum Dare 🙂