If forced to put a label on this week’s highlighted games from the Steam library, I believe my choice would be ‘weird’.  But weird is so simple, it’s overused and trite.  Let me better explain it by saying this week’s line-up is ‘unapologetically weird’.

Weird isn’t something video games have a monopoly on.  You have your atonal music, your avant garde film, surrealism theatre (the longest two hours of my life).  But none of that is as good at being so nonchalantly weird as video games.  Whether it is a dating sim based on the life of Chinese students, a game where you befriend a woman who thinks she is a cat, or a game where you battle it to the death as various ducks, video games are just the best at embracing the bizarre.

So walk on the wild side this week with any of these games who won’t apologize for being what they are.

D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die

In Their Own Words:

D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die – A new mystery adventure game from SWERY, the mind behind Deadly Premonition. This unsettling tale unfolds through a series of episodes as the hero pursues his wife’s murderer and dives into the past. Season One includes the Prologue, Episode One, and Episode Two.

 

In Our Words:

The life of D4’s development is almost as strange as the game itself.  Microsoft was quick to nab SWERY and give him the task of showing off the Xbox One Kinect, hoping to cash in on those who would follow the creator from the cult-hit Deadly Premonition.  To his credit, SWERY’s wacky adventure really tried to explored the Kinect in a lot of unique ways.

There are a few reasons the game might not have sold as well as Microsoft hoped.  It’s possible the unbundling of Kinect had something to do with it, it’s just as possible SWERY’s cult following as too cult.  It’s also possible the baked-in fans of the Xbox One couldn’t figure out what to make of D4.

In any case, the Xbox’s loss is a PC player’s gain.  Unfortunately, the Steam version of D4 won’t have the wacky Kinect controls of the Xbox One version, but don’t worry, there are plenty of other strange ideas that the title explores.  D4 is not only weird, but it’s pretty poorly designed.  The voice acting is stiff, the dialogue is stilted, the gameplay is uneven.  But all of that is why you show up to a SWERY game.  The rough patches which ought to frustrate you, only make the game more endearing.

D4 is kind of like watching Sharknado or eating at White Castle.  At no point is the experience considered high art or would you even want to argue for its artistic merit.  But there’s something lovable underneath all of the strangeness, something that makes D4 more than just the sum of its parts.  It’s a weird game and a rare game, and whatever you think about it, you’re gonna come away with some strong opinions.

 

StratO

In Their Own Words:

StratO offers the thrilling satisfaction of flying through vast, procedurally-generated chasms as you perform chains of aerial maneuvers and slide across massive obstacles to charge your boosters and blast yourself ahead at supersonic speeds!

 

In Our Words:

Remember how awesome paper aeroplanes were back in school? You do? Great! Then you may like the look of StratO, an unorthodox, physics-based title that takes the concept of miniature aircraft in an interesting direction. An intricate yet satisfying control scheme combined with procedurally generated level design solidify StratO is a title definitely worth a glimpse.

 

Gaokao.Love.1000 Days

In Their Own Words:

Getting a girl-friend before Gaokao(National College Entrance Exam), I know it’s crazy, but from today, we will face everything together.Is there still room for love in this 100 days, or am I just ruining my life, or worse, her life? This is a dating simulation game based on Chinese students’ real life. You can have romantic relationship with classmates, but remember that you have just 100 days while preparing for Gaokao.  

 

In Our Words:

The summer is coming, time to find a cute virtual girlfriend! But seriously, this visual novel contains an interesting cultural shift from the usual Japanese setting we often see in the genre. Set in a Chinese high school, you fill the shoes of a student on the cusp of his college entrance exams. The true draw of this dating sim is the Chinese setting, one that we seldom experience in such a way. Boasting over 50 endings and 10 potential routes, Gaokao sounds like an adorably good time.

 

MASSIVE CHALICE

In Their Own Words:

MASSIVE CHALICE is a tactical strategy game set on an epic timeline from Double Fine Productions. As the Immortal Ruler of the Nation, you’ll take command of its heroes, forge marriages to strengthen your Bloodlines, and battle a mysterious enemy known as the Cadence in a war lasting hundreds of years.

 

In Our Words:

MASSIVE CHALICE has been in Steam Early Access so it’s not entirely new to the platform, but it feels fair to point out that the there is a difference between Early Access MASSIVE CHALICE and final product.  The released game is more polished and its gameplay is more finely tuned.  There’s a stigma (somewhat deserved) when it comes to Early Access, but the extra time spent in the oven seems to have paid dividends for the Double Fine’s second Kickstarted title.

 

Duck Game

In Their Own Words:

Enter the futuristic year of 1984, an age where ducks run wild in a frantic battle for glory. Win over the crowd and gain a following by blasting your feathered friends with Shotguns, Net Guns, Mind Control Rays, Saxophones, Magnet Guns, and pretty much anything else a duck could use as a weapon. One hit and you’re roasted. This is DUCK GAME. Don’t blink.

 

In Our Words:

Adult Swim Games has been killing it as of late.  First came the vengeful, open-world Westerado, and now we’re treated to this multiplayer mallard mayhem.  I think to think that Duck Game is a world where Howard the Duck had dozens of offspring and makes them fight to the death.  Like most Adult Swim Games, Duck Game swerves off the beaten path and is unapologetic is it’s outlandish premise.  Choose guns, enter arenas, kill other ducks.  The premise isn’t all that complicated.