09 IGF Winner for Audio
Digital Eel makes deep games about weird stuff, going so far as to name one of their better games Weird Worlds. Then they went ahead and outdid themselves.
Brain Pipe is an experiment to see if a game can be designed to evoke feelings that are alien to the human condition, a design to evoke feelings that cannot be designed or accounted for. Apparently the answer is yes, we can do that.
We can also instill trance-like vertigo, tryptamine-tinged illinx, but we already knew that a first person view coupled with rapidly changing scenery and a demand to avoid collisions could effect that. What´s significant here is the simplicty of the interaction, whereas Torus Trooper´s frenetic pacing was pock-marked with sudden stops when hit, putting you closer to running out of time, and deigned to have you hold the fire button or charge the blubshot, Brain Pipe has you merely gliding the mouse and holding down the button to slow down for a bit when you need it most. Collisions can kill you, but you recover your health in a Halo recharge fashion, which goes well with the time-distortion. This calm allows you to paradoxically soak up the sensory overload of hyper-kinesthesia without the stress. The quite murmur of the audio gives this gestalt a sort of spiked-Descent feel to it, little did you know...
The game possesses you with its harrowing genius, which makes it as worth having as Electric Sheep but in a more active sense. Despite that, I wish there was more to it, more extensibility in the obstacles, in distortion powers, in the significance of the sigils, or at the least a more unlimited gameplay. There´s more potential in this mode, and the subversive effect it has on the senses over time. I want it to take itself seriously enough to let me stay in the flow for hours, until my eyes dry out and the subconscious rhythms have fully deprogrammed my assumptions about time and space, the beating of my own heart, sense awareness and the potential nature of inhuman entities lurking beyond the cusp of measurable reality. I want to go into this with an innocent desire for triptastic glee, and come out of it with the demeanor of a brain damaged Zen-master. It gets close, but depending on your predelictions, it doesn´t take the practical joke quite far enough to spark enlightenment or at least burn the paper construct you call the mind. Maybe that´s ok, it´s pretty fun and we wouldn´t want to trigger the immenent disintegration of consensus reality, right? This game is more fun than mass rioting.