All right. Deep breath. I’m going to do my best to explain Adult Swim’s Winnose without sounding like a complete crazy goof loose on buckets of acid, but it’s going to be a tough crawl. See, the great Winnowing has devastatingly split the world in two, including you, a moai statue, causing your flower to lose some precious petals. Hopefully you can find your missing pieces and get the world back to a more relaxed, unified kind of life, though that might require a little time-traveling. Spoiler: that’s not going to be a problem.
Created by Todd Luke and Calum Bowen, Winnose is undoubtedly a surreal experience. A fever dream come to life, one you just can’t stop bobbing your head to. It’s half a puzzle game and half a chance to show off its fantastic, flighty soundtrack, ranging from a soft, acoustic lick sung to you by a chicken to an eclectic mix of percussion and culminating with a bouncy, hyperactive J-pop track set out in space. Not lying about any of those things, I swear. This game goes places, carrying you on clouds of strange and unique sounds, certainly ones I don’t get to hear too often.
Playing Winnose is actually quite simple in that your control scheme is limited. You can move around in four directions only via the arrow keys…and that’s it. There’s no jump, no attack, no hold X to charge up your sword for a killer swipe, etc. The main gameplay goal is to reach the screen’s exit; enemies move according to specific patterns or special rules, and the moai head just needs to get by them without making contact. It’s pretty easy in the beginning, but the rules eventually stack, and there’s a lot more to consider later on as you enter and exit different portals. Regardless, I never got stuck for too long, and trial and error works well enough for figuring out the exact path you need to take to move on.
There’s a strange theme in Winnose, and I’m not even talking about its psychedelic, shroom-munching lining. No. There are constant references to, obviously, noses. First and foremost, the name of the game. You hear someone sneeze in one of the early songs, two tracks are called “Snot My Problem” and “Calm Before the Sneeze”, and the final boss battle has you…well, it’s again, without spoiling that truly special moment, related to sneezing. I don’t know if I missed something earlier, but I guess I can only take away from all this that the Winnowing was caused by some giant sneeze. Or maybe it all means something more.
But yeah, if you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind experience and have an hour or two to kill, I urge you all to play Winnose. It’s free and can be sampled in your browser over at Adult Swim’s game page. I evidently missed out a chance to do a super secret speed run after beating it, so I’ll probably be going back real soon; really, I’ll take any excuse I can get to lose myself in this colorfully bizarre state of an underworld, where the beats never stop, not even after you pull yourself together.