Dust City

For the first time in a while there isn't really any connective tissues between the games that I've selected for Pocket Dimension. There may be a couple of shared ideas but nothing that really stands out. So it's a bit of a pick 'n' mix this week.

If you play through them all you'll experience a range of moods and emotions, flying between being chilled, sad, scared, and delighted. Hopefully there's at least one game in here that makes your Sunday an even better one.

Daegel-Bruhz Smoking Simulator (LTPATS)

Daegel-Bruhz Smoking Simulator

Why play it? There are times in life, usually after an exhausting couple of days, that the only thing you want to do is mong out. This is the perfect game for those occasions.

Click the mouse button and that slightly twisted-looking but chilled bunny will take a decent drag on that crooked pipe between its lips. Smoke bellows out like all the troubles in your life drifting off into the sky.

It's complete focus on this moment of serenity and escape from the chaos of life. It works for someone like me, who used to enjoy this kind of activity from time to time, but now tries to avoid it--simulating those midnight tokes on backhouse porches temporarily brings back that comfortable slothfulness.

Play on Game Jolt (Browser)

Zagalike (Tony Perriello)


Why play it? As expected, Zagalike feels a lot like Michael Brough's Zaga 33 to play, as is the intention. However, in tone and visual design it stands on its own two feet. It's somehow darker, more organic than Zaga 33.

It's also less cryptic, not just because you know what all the items do once you pick them up (new items have to be used to discover what they do in Zaga 33), but also in how the enemies are easier to read. They're not all green aliens, but red and blue as well. These caverns also look like matted viscera, like walls of flesh, which I think I may prefer, personally.

The best reason to play Zagalike is because, well, it's a tonal remix of Zaga 33.

Download on itch.io (Windows)

DUST CITY (Kitty Horrorshow)


Why play it? You won't know it unless you've read the accompanying PDF Guide (try it), but in DUST CITY you've been assigned to explore a decrepit industrial city that appeared in a large crater about 12 hours prior to your arrival. You have a strange device that lets you enter Doors that lead to other dimensions but you're warned that the device isn't able to tell you of what's on the other side of each Door.

Maybe I'm just a fanatic, but this reminds me of Demon's Souls for two reasons. The first is that the central hub contains doors to other places that embody a fear of the unknown--just like the Archstones in From Software's game. You're also able to teleport back from these locations at any time.

The second reason is due to the first door I went through leading me to an ominous and hellish low poly landscape. Sprites that screamed about solitude, domestic abuse, and hatred greeted me inside a small house that felt too small to live in. Outside, the darkness enshrouds everything and the skyline was only visible high up where the surrounding peaks ended and the ends of trees coiled. Above, a huge cog grinded autonomously alongside floating wood planks and oscillating stone pillars. It was almost as dreadful and creepy as the (grimace) Tower of Latria.

This was only my introduction to DUST CITY. I then went on to find more pleasant and sometimes surreal areas, all of which seemd to have an underlying evil, no matter the plumage. Before you play, you might want to get a pen and paper to jot down some numbers that you'll be collecting. Yep, this is part exploration game, part old-school adventure, all mysterious and menacing.

Pay-what-you-want on itch.io (Windows, Mac, Linux)

Curtain (dreamfeel)


Why play it? One thought prevailed as I played Curtain (PREPARE FOR A MASSIVE GONE HOME SPOILER) That is: it's like the story of Sam and Lonnie from Gone Home after they ran off together. In short, you interact with objects around a flat, reading through the relationship of two punk band members who recently moved in together but are steadily breaking up, with plenty of implied abuse.

It could be a visual novel, however, being able to move through the flat makes it feel as if you're experiencing the declination of the relationship for yourself. It has both show and tell.

There's also a really neat trick in the shower that transitions you between two versions of the same house. It bends time and space to show how a partner in an abusive relationship can go from endearing to terrifying just like day goes through to night.

Author's note: "tw: non-explicit themes of abuse"

Pay-what-you-want on itch.io (Windows, Mac, Linux)

Mt. (Luke O'Connor)


Why play it? Flinging a little human up a mountain has its ups and downs (slaps knee). Important to distinguish is that this isn't mountain climbing; it's mountain catapulting. Also, the human functions more as a peg than anything else--if they land on their legs they stick to the ground.

It starts with you entering a name for a mountain, like Mt. Zanzibar, or Mt. ChooChoo (those were my picks). Your mountain is then generated and you're left to do as you please within the capabilities that the game grants you.

Mostly, this involves trying to peg your way up knobbly cliffsides and tumbling back down in a spinning fashion. It's like climbing a huge slide just to come down it straight afterwards whether you meant to or not. As you whirl around, falling back down, it's preferable to land on your legs to come to an abrupt halt, which turns it into an extreme form of gymnastics. I feel like my little character should raise their arms to become more vertical and judges should flash numbers above their heads.

It's a shame that you can't fire the bungee rope out while you're in the air to swing from it as that would add room for extra performance.

Play here (Browser)