I just got around to playing Randy Balma: Municipal Abortionist (I had been intent on getting Braid done when it was originally released, but Chris Dahlen’s blog posting reminded me to play it today).
If you like art games, I recommend you try it, and stick with it through the very difficult first stage; spoilery commentary occurs after the fold.
Play-wise, I noticed that this game encouraged a light touch, or even a hands-off way of playing. Everything got easier when I stopped trying to hard. On the roadway, instead of trying to steer, I would wait until enough cars crashed into me to turn me the right way, and then just worry about speeding forward. On the final stage of the space capsule, it’s only feasible to worry about forward thrust, and let the light spin of your capsule direct you toward the target; and so on.
But what made the stronger impact on me, ultimately, was the game’s exuberance. I don’t just mean the game’s visuals (though they do come in quantity — this is the first game to give me the interactivity-with-audiovisual-overload peak experience since Space Giraffe.) I mean the interactivity as well — the huge number of cars, the ridiculous overspin on your Big Ben rocket capsule, et cetera.
Finally, the ending screen was great. As simple as it is, I sat there, watched it and listened to the music for a few minutes. Many art forms have tried to evoke a feeling of profundity through sense of scale; perhaps films do this most often, pulling far back from a scene to instill the feeling that what the viewer’s been focusing on is a piece of something much larger. But the knotted roadways in the final screen of Randy Balma gave me that feeling for real for the first time in a long time. I think the impact is greater here than with something like film, because those are things I actually interacted with.