That night, soaked in Blood River is one of the most interesting games I can remember. This surrealistic exploration game has an aesthetic so unique that I am convinced that this is how I will dream tonight and, as such, am a little put off falling asleep.
Created by Taylor Swietanski, TNSBBR is a pretty standard ego puzzle game on one level. You have to explore the different buildings, solve pattern-based puzzles and collect objects. On another level, it’s a mindfuck like nothing else.
What intrigues me most is that I just can’t figure out how to describe it to you. After writing about games for over 20 years, I’ve gotten pretty used to the sentences that form in my head as I play. Descriptions come together before my fingers have even reached the keyboard. Often times, it’s more like I’m transcribing the text in my head when I come to review. But not here. I’ve got to the end of the last sentence and I’m floating off now.
In a way, it reminded me of the most ambitious Polygon games of the mid-1980s, in particular The Sentinel, but that is not entirely true. I’ve also kept thinking about those trippy illustrative graphics that you see in clips from 1970s science programs. It’s blurry, fuzzy, and constantly changing in color and design, sometimes as you walk across a room. There’s something particularly disturbing about the volatility of its locations, how stepping into a door doesn’t necessarily lead you into the space it appears to offer, and how outside and inside seem indefinite and optional.
And I absolutely loved it. It has an excellent soundtrack that is disoriented and fluid at the same time, a peculiar obsession with having to sign up before you get admitted in certain places, and that developer answer on the Itch.io page of the game.
There are no “better graphics”.
As with so much on itching, The game can be downloaded for free, but you can (and should) pay as much as you think it’s worth.
I have a few more screenshots: