It is being a busy month for video games. This October, to give you an idea, I’m immersed in titles as powerful as ‘God of War: Ragnarok’, ‘Bayonetta 3’, ‘Gotham Knights’ and ‘A Plague Tale’, just as far as today. Of course, outside of work I keep picking up not so modern games: the first ‘Portal’ for the umpteenth time and my Steam Deck is giving me great joy.
Nevertheless, there are also current games that escape the radar of the media and are claimed by the bajini in social networks or they do not occupy the covers of the main webs for weeks. This is the case of two of the recent titles that have caught my attention the most, and that in addition to having a very suggestive quality separately, they also have things to say if they are seen hand in hand. Let’s see what they consist of.
‘Trombone Champ’: Finally a rhythm game with good music
I don’t know if it will be the best game of the year (of course, on my scale of “good” and “bad” it borders on a colossal height), but it is certainly the most fun. I’ve had to stop games halfway because I was laughing so hard I couldn’t continue with this musical title that works from a starting point so simple that its creator doesn’t deserve any other name than genius: it’s a musical game in the style of ‘Guitar Hero’ or ‘Rock Band’, but the instrument played is the trombone.
To do this we will use a mechanism similar to that of the aforementioned games: a series of lines at different heights will move to the left of the screen, and we will have to hit the point where they are located with the mouse and click to blow the trombone The difference with other games of the style is that there are no exact positions as if they were switches to press, but here the trombone sounds in the note corresponding to the point where you are. If it’s the right (complicated) one, great. If it’s the wrong point, we’ll hear the note apocalyptically out of tune.
This distances the game from other music titles, which communicate their mistakes to the player in two ways: either by not interrupting the original theme but by emitting brief beeps (such as crackles or thumps that break the melody) or by slowly eroding the song. in a kind of negative progression. In ‘Trombone Champ’, the song still sounds… as bad as the player plays it.
The result is hilarious because ‘Trombone Champ is extremely difficult. It is almost impossible to play the songs well, because the game demands, as in a real trombone, a total precision in the placement of the cursor on the bar that mimics the equivalent of the real instrument, as well as clicking at superhuman speed to “blow” . And this difficulty comes from the fact that the game wants the player to make a mistake: the proof is that in the configuration, even setting the mouse movement to a minimum, it will be too sensitive to play comfortably. And why does ‘Trombone Champ’ want the player to play fatal? Very simple: because he is funnier.
And with an idea that is both so simple and so honest (the game forces you to play badly because it wants you to have fun) we have one of the most fascinating and hilarious experiences of the year. Playing absolutely infamous trombone standards with pitiful quality we also have one of the most challenging and addictive games of the year, thanks to its extreme difficulty and player reward system, which doesn’t take itself too seriously.
— Bachico. (@CT_sub3) October 29, 2022
‘Scorn’: Giger’s shadow is elongated
Since I saw the first images of ‘Scorn’, I knew that the game was designed for me to get lost in the unfathomable corners of its darkest levels. Superficially, it is a blatant plagiarism of masters of necrotic imagery like HR Giger or Zdzislaw Beksińsk. In fact, sometimes the tremendous mug of Ebb Software amazes, which they have copied to many levels without giving the slightest official reference to their obvious source of inspiration.
However, the reservations dissolve when one enters the monstrous alien landscapes that ‘Scorn’ forces us to go through. The levels seem like trigger points for phobias and nightmares: those who suffer from more or less exotic panics such as aichmophobia or, above all, trypophobia, be very careful, because overwhelm is guaranteed. I, in fact, have a slight megalophobia, and the almost entranced giants whose breathing is perceived in the sets have forced me on more than one occasion to stop the game to hug my security blanket.
As a game, ‘Scorn’ isn’t particularly balanced: more than one of the many puzzles that make up the adventure, especially those associated with the scenarios, are hellish. Although there are clues scattered throughout those very sets, you often have to guess how they all work. And the shooting phases, no matter how visually suggestive they may be, are absolutely deficient: the shooting, aiming and reloading system is quite disastrous, and luckily the pure action does not add up to more than 15% of the game.
However, everything in ‘Scorn’ works because everything in ‘Scorn’ is atmosphere. And despite limping in many ways, there’s no denying its value in distancing itself from the conventions of video game horror and haunted house hallways with underwhelming scares. ‘Scorn’ sets up a world that, in agreement, lives on other people’s remnants, but it is no less disturbing for that. And he adorns it with puzzles that seem to have been designed by a demiurge who, instead of building Adam with mud, did so with the remains of decomposing alien corpses. How not to be in favor.
Two extremes, a tremendous combo
It is not necessary to be an expert in digital semiology to capture that both games are at opposite ends, aesthetic and tonal: a brainless and colorful game, whose sole purpose is to make the player laugh even if it means sabotaging the games; and a dark and depressing adventure, equally without a plot, replaced by a macabre and dead atmosphere and that draws from two masters of the surreal.
And yet for several weeks I have been playing both daily and almost mathematically alternate. When I got tired of one I put myself with the other, and vice versa. A continuous cyclothymia of joy and desolation, of revelry and darkness, of hooliganism and ulcers. Regardless of the enema effect on my spirit, it is clear that these extremes have something of a lesson for those of us who also consume Triple A, more and more games full of commitments, tolls, decisions that before being made go through seventy offices of people with tie.
Both ‘Trombone Champ’ and ‘Scorn’ have something in common: playing them is a breath of fresh air. They are literally unique experiences within the medium, even with its clumsiness and limitations: when was the last time you said while playing a blockbuster “I had never seen this in my life”? For starters, you can give thanks if it’s not a sequel or a remake. Only titles conceived from the most resounding margins provide these pleasures.
And now? Have I had my dose of originality and impact and I have to put my head down and return to monotony? I doubt it: I just started with ‘Vampire Survivors’, an absolute marvel, an impossible mix of bullet-hell…and ‘Castlevania’. One of those games in which the mantra “one more game” guarantees that the next day at work you will be a rag. Do I choose my games very well? Well, let’s just say that when you hit the roadside ditches of super releases, the chances of finding some really great games are multiplied. Good hunting.