PEGBRJE: The Stillness of the Wind and Dangerous Duels
Welcome to page 5, weary traveler.
The Stillness of the Wind is a narrative simulation title by Memory of God, a solo dev, and is the follow up to Where The Goats Are. You play as the sole ‘survivor’ of the family in Talma, who stays on the homestead she was raised on while the rest of her family have moved to the large city. Here, she lives a peaceful yet secluded life tending to her goats, chickens and her own health as she makes her own food and defends her land from beasts. The only true interaction she gets is in the form of letters delivered by the mail courier and travelling merchant, which are from those that left her for the city.
Talma’s routine in which she keeps her home running is completely set by the player, regardless of the intentions. She can be diligent, as players make butter, plant seeds, fetch water and keep the place running, or she can be wistful as she wanders into the desert with her rifle to shoot birds to waste away the time and maybe collect some food. It’s this lack of direction that tells the story, as players act as the motivators for how Talma deals with her loneliness and the letters she receives. All actions performed will be based on the mood of the player, rather than by some external demand or timer (except for the day/night cycle). If a letter outlining some disturbing facts about a family member is received, players may find themselves wasting precious hours of the day simply ruminating about the implications, and then find themselves faced with dusk before they could achieve anything ‘useful’.
To many, living in seclusion is their preference, as it seems to be for Talma as she’s lived on this ranch her entire life, detailed in the small texts that can be discovered by interacting with certain objects. Yet her memories are distant and nostalgic, longing for a time when there were others around to share in the adventure and experience. Her only connection through the letters only tells bits and pieces of her relatives’ stories, ones that seem skewed by their viewpoints but also by the harrowing situations some of them may be in. It’s truly a painful thing to watch, as while we as players control Talma she is the one experiencing these events, reacting with minimal emotion to return to work whistling. It’s hard not to feel for her as she does this day after day, working towards something that is utterly mundane yet is all she truly knows.
It’s a harsh lesson in living alone and secluded, that you are the only motivator for your own survival and creating external motivations through work or companionship in the form of animals. It’s one I’m personally familiar with as one who grew up in the countryside, feeling secluded from all that was ‘happening’ in the world — but instead I was one of those sending letters back home, one that left and only communicated periodically with those I left behind. It’s a bizarre situation to feel, having a world so closely associated with one’s self yet can only talk to others about as if it was something long gone. The countryside was where I was raised, yet upon leaving it was a foreign entity, one that when returned to feels alien and confusing. It’s lonely, truth be told.
That’s what Stillness in the Wind is: lonely. It can be a happy lonely, or a sad lonely, but the isolation that we feel as Talma remains all the same. It is a shorter title, but it’s impact can be felt relatively quickly due to the lack of objectives and entities to interact with that can talk back. If you are one struggling with isolation during this pandemic, I’m not entirely sure that I would recommend this game — it might not help with said feelings. However, if you are looking for a game to empathize over a solitary character attempting to keep her daily routine, then this is definitely a game to try.
Also you can pet goats. They’re kind of like dogs.
Dangerous Duels is a local multiplayer twitch-shooter standoff extravaganza made by Sophie Houlden, a solo dev and frequent participant in LudumDare to create over 2 dozen games that I could count quickly. In this particular one, players pick their western gunslinger to represent themselves, grab a few friend or slot in some bots, and begin the showdown to determine who is the rootin tootin point and shootin master.
Players are given at default a 6 shooter, and must move around a static grid created at the beginning in order to shoot opponents, with movement and shooting both taking an action to perform. Shots and movement follow this grid, and one cannot shoot at a player within the grid lines that they can aim down. It is still in real time, so one’s fast acting reflexes will help them aim and shoot as soon as an enemy appears, or move across a dangerous sight line without being shot. All it takes is 1 bullet to remove a player from the round, so careful planning is required in order to ensure victory. To this end, each round doesn’t start until all players draw their guns, so that everyone can look at the newly generated grid and understand their own location, the paths to each players and where they can efficiently shoot. While speed is important, giving players the ability to plan and understand where they’ve been spawned allows it to feel more balanced so that it doesn’t become a game of ‘who found their starting point the fastest’.
The tipping point of strategy is in the secondary shooting type, the slow shot. While normal bullets almost instantly travel across the grid line aimed down, the slow shot sends a massive projectile down the line moving at a snail’s pace in comparison. What this does is create area denial: players don’t wish to risk moving to that line for fear that the bullet will reach them before they move out, narrowing their playing area. This strategy element is by far my favourite part added: this game would’ve been fine without it, but the slow shot is what enables different play styles amongst players so that each round can feel more different than the last.
In uncharacteristic form for dueling, games are a first to five mentality, so I must assume that players who lose just clone another avatar to enter the duel once more. There are many different customization options for how the gameplay works, from number of bullets per chamber to forcing players to start each round with 0 bullets and must reload. The multiple combinations gives numerous ways to play and strategize in Dangerous Duels, so try out any combinations that work the best for you. If you wish to play a competitive local game with friends with a western vibe and can add different stakes or gameplay elements outside of the game to spice it up, Dangerous Duels gives you the tools you need to become the dueling champion of the west. I know that I personally plan on using this title for deciding disagreements for the near future: it just makes sense.
The Stillness of the Wind
One by one, everyone left the once bustling village for the city. Everyone, except Talma. Now approaching the end of…