PEGBRJE: Hollow Head DC and LYNE

Good eye, this IS just a picture from the itch.io page. You think I’d boot the game back up again? Heck no I scared.

Hollow Head DC (Director’s Cut) is a horror survival title made by Rubeki, a solo indie dev out of Toronto. Originally a submission to the Haunted PS1 Summer Spooks Game Jam in 2019, this is the full version of that original demo fully fleshed out. The player is an average apartment dweller, having recently moved in only to not be able to sleep. Deciding to take out the trash instead of just pace around their room, the player hears a cry for help from the garbage shoot. They go down to the concierge to report it, only for the power to go out as they do. Suddenly the vents start whispering, the lighting becomes terrible and doors start locking; oops you’re in a horror game.

Over the past few months, I’ve noticed that my skills in many games have increased; my tolerance for platforming titles has increased and I find that puzzle titles are becoming slightly easier to figure out. I wish I could say the same for horror titles. At least this time I was able to nearly finish the game before freaking out and quitting and watching another person finish the game off. Baby steps I guess.

Without spoiling too much, the scariest part of Hollow Head is in just how utterly terrifying the atmosphere is when absolutely nothing is going on. Those whispers from the vents are nonstop, yet fall into the decibel range of just out of earshot to worm into the ears of their listener, never leaving but never overpowering any of the other audio. They change and alter as the tenant explores, layering other small voices on top with droning white noise to keep the tension constant even if there is nothing going on. In typical horror fashion the light sources are weak at best, and as the game continues they become worse to build even more tension in the little things like turning corners. What that tension is building towards is vague and unsettling, as there is only one true ‘jump scare’ that I experienced and I bolted soon after seeing it — well, after I nearly threw my controller.

The puzzles of Hollow Head kept the exploration flowing, even if I had accidentally explored the regions of the solutions prior to receiving the problem. If I had a singular criticism, it would be the final area puzzle, which was also the place that I had to throw in the towel. The maze-like region had my poor protagonist looping in seeming circles while that which hunted them was in relentless pursuit, causing restarts of the area on multiple occasions. I was able to watch another play through that final sequence and I wasn’t too far off, but the constant confusion mixed with fear made it really hard to figure out exactly where I was going while playing.

If horror is your thing, Hollow Head is definitely a game you’ll want to check out. I didn’t mind the PS1 graphics as somebody who doesn’t have much nostalgia for the era, and found that many of the graphical ‘glitching’ of the atmosphere to add to the terror as I was exploring. For those of us easily scared, it’s still worth the investment in a fantastic lesson of atmosphere, even if I couldn’t finish it out.

Those hexagons and their ability to just accept everything multiple times.

LYNE is a casually relaxing puzzle game made by Thomas Bowker, an Australian indie dev. Players are given shapes with a simple goal — connect the white-centred ones with each other using the solid-coloured ones as conduits if need be without allowing for lines to overlap. Seems standard and simple to most line puzzles, until a certain shape appears and starts to throw the entire concept into a blender for some satisfyingly mind boggling puzzles.

As mentioned, LYNE is about line puzzles (who would’ve thought). Lines are connected between shapes, even diagonally, to create patterns that fill the board; which is to say, all shapes must be connected in the pattern for it to be complete. Shapes can be utilized as a gateway to connect a line, meaning they can only have two total lines attached to them. The only shapes that cannot be connected more than once are the white-centred ones; they can only have one as they signify the beginning and the end of the line. At first, this requires rudimentary planning and shape recognition as two or three colours of shapes are looking to be connected, usually with a simple path. However, there is a singular shape that creates absolute chaos within the line community and is the backbone to the joy of these puzzles; the hexagon.

Hexagons are grey shapes ambivalent to the norm of colours and shapes; all they require is they be connected to the lines, usually in more ways than once. Upon introduction, players must connect the number of lines to these hexagons based on the number of blank spaces within them, regardless of the colour. This leads to some solutions where the red square has a double connection to a singular hexagon to complete, or the red and blue square lines double up with one. To the hexagon, it matters not as long as they are included. It’s these hexagons that drive many of the puzzle complexity moving forward, as fewer and fewer specific coloured shape conduits appear to give any semblance of balance and simplicity. Players will be forced to look less at how the colours are connected and more at their location on the grid itself, using process of elimination to sort out just how many hexagons a singular colour can acquire before finishing.

I can’t tell you how many solutions gave me the stupidest grin on my face upon completion. It didn’t matter if I solved them on my first attempt, or spent 5 minutes slowly connecting each colour one by one to grasp at the full picture, the outcome of childish excitement was the same. LYNE’s simplicity is its greatest strength, giving endless possible solutions while creating an endless list of problems and possibilities to do the simplest task of drawing a line between shapes. If you are looking for a fantastic addition to the puzzle genre that allows for some great lines to be created, backed by relaxing tonal music and satisfying chimes, LYNE is a great game for any device you can find it for. Which, by the way, it’s on mobile now, so you can even play as if you were solving your own Android combination.

Links are scary.

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Just a Game Dev who decided to take on the monumental task of giving an overview of all 59 pages in the bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. We keep going.

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Jacob Vorstenbosch

Jacob Vorstenbosch

Just a Game Dev who decided to take on the monumental task of giving an overview of all 59 pages in the bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. We keep going.

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