Tag Archives: BATHOS

A young boy, a forest, and a hero’s adventure

Adventures are the foundation of RPGs, the stuff to build upon and keep everything standing mighty and tall, especially those romps from fonder times when graphics alone could not carry a game. Think about titles like Chrono Trigger, Grandia, Mother, Secret of Evermore, and Breath of Fire II. Any similarities? All open up with a young boy off on an adventure, his parents strangely indifferent to such careless actions, wishing him all the best, but to be careful. Same thing goes with Hero’s Adventure.

Created by Terry Cavanagh of VVVVVV fame, Hero’s Adventure is actually not an adventure at all, especially one starring a hero of some sort. Instead, it’s about a boy who goes off into the shadowy forest, returning home after a hard day’s work. What happens in those woods, stays in those woods…but you can find out by playing the game itself. It’s about a minute long, cynical, and disturbing, with evocative music and really fast battles that, upon popping up, initially scared the crud out of me.

This is the second indie game I’ve played as of late that is short and sweet, but manages to leave a strong impact regardless. The other game was BATHOS, a neat little thing created in a single weekend. I highly recommend y’all checking both out; I know you have the minutes to spare.

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Can’t escape smiling at this Ludum Dare game called BATHOS

If it wasn’t for Notch, I would have never even known about this crazy thing that recently took charge, known to indie game developers worldwide as the Ludum Dare. Basically, participants develop games from scratch in a single weekend–that’s 48 hours, okay–based on a theme suggested by community. This time around the theme is escape. Browsing through the 500+ finished entries is a bit daunting; some of them really do look great, and others…well, not so much. Unfortunately, a good chunk of them blur together.

The first submission I clicked on to check out was BATHOS by Johan Peitz, mostly because it looked like a SCUMM title, and those experiences always pull at my heartstrings. Seriously, there’s a Maniac Mansion vibe here. I’m super pleased to announce that the very first Ludum Dare title I’ve tried…is a winner! Well, in my book. I’m sure Notch’s entry is stellar too, but I haven’t attempted it yet, considering I barely understand Minecraft still, and I’ve been playing that for several weeks now. Anyways…

In BATHOS, the player wakes up in a supervised prison cell, naturally wanting to escape. The door is locked, but he quickly discovers many keys in his tiny, depressing cell room. Surely one of them will work on the door. And that’s it. Find the right key and get out of there. It sounds simple, but it took me about fifteen minutes on my lunch break to figure out, and the solution is delightful, obvious, turning this little indie bit of Flash wizardry into something truly charming. The graphics are clean and unobtrusive, and the game controls smoothly. There’s only so much our pixelated hero can do, but it all works. Picking up keys that don’t work and flinging them under your bed never felt so good.

One of the definitions for bathos is “an anticlimax,” and yes, Johan Peitz’s take on solitude, yearning, and escape most certainly is that. However, it might be the first time something so ludicrous has made me smile.

You can play BATHOS in your web browser by clicking this very sentence. Or, if you’re looking to download it for Windows/OSX/Linux, go here…just don’t read any of the comments below otherwise you’ll spoil a perfectly genuine gaming experience. And remember, this was created in under 48 hours. To me, that’s mighty impressive–and gives me hope that maybe one day I could make a videogame, too.