In a monthly series, we’re highlighting a few games, apps, and interactive digital experiences recommended for the art crowd. For October, walk through a glitchy realm of skulls and flowers, have a Twin Peaks dance battle in the Black Lodge, alter an alternative reality, and experience an 18th-century opera as a puzzle.
For: PC and Mac
From: Loren Schmidt
It doesn’t take long for the gameplay of Strawberry Cubes to get weird. I quickly found myself tolling a bell on top of a ladder while an endless horde of frogs leaped across the black, white, and red screen, all after climbing a heap of glitchy bones. Created by artist Loren Schmidt (half of the duo behind the @mothgenerator bot), the pay-what-you-wish game is a beautifully made, unpredictable environment of climbable flowers, skulls, and surreal text.
Fire Dance With Me
From: Robert Gaither and Anja Luzega
A swaying Audrey Horne, the red-suited Man from Another Place, the Log Lady’s log (RIP), and Agent Cooper with a damn fine cup of coffee are all ready for the most demented 30-second dance-off in Fire Dance With Me. The characters all jive on the zig-zag floor of the Black Lodge as poor Leland Palmer cries, “Please somebody dance with me!” Like in Dance Dance Revolution, your goal in the two-player tribute game — created by Robert Gaither and Anja Luzega for Fantastic Arcade’s Duplicade — is to match your dance moves to a pattern on the screen, all to the accompaniment of an 8-bit play on the show’s theme music. While we might be hitting Twin Peaks exhaustion with all the hype over its return, anything that can make me cackle with joy in 30 seconds is a small treasure.
For: Mac and PC
Panoramical offers 18 levels of audio and visual digital landscape to alter with your movements and interactions — although calling them levels is a bit inaccurate, as it’s more a digital art experience than a game. The 3D exploration platform was created by David Kanaga (behind other audiovisual games like Proteus and Dyad) and Fernando Ramallo with Finji. The creators invite users to “immerse yourself in synaesthetic alien vistas and control them like an ambient disco-god,” and according to Engadget, a pro version is being marketed to DJs for trippy visual sets. But even for lay users, it’s addictive to play with the ethereal noise and watch and listen as your controls transform the landscape at once.
Mozart’s 1791 opera The Magic Flute is an epic fantasy of sorcery, illusion, and arias, and the Magic Flute game from LabLike lets you experience it in a different way. The puzzle game is no substitute for seeing the stage production — its industrial, modernist visuals are based on a recent staging by Amon Miyamoto in Tokyo — and its gameplay isn’t exactly groundbreaking: you basically move around blocks, albeit while avoiding snakes and navigating the kingdom of the Queen of the Night. However, its 32 levels for Act 1 (Act 2 is still forthcoming) are an enjoyable introduction to the opera’s world, or an interactive experience with it for lovers of the 18th-century work.