Every year, gamers from around the world get together to create games. These 48-hour competitions, also known as game jams, are events where people collaborate and create new games under strict themes and strict timelines. The Ludum Dare is just one of those many competitions. This April, Ludum Dare hosted their 32nd main event with the theme “An Unconventional Weapon.”
I’m a pretty active jammer (in fact Elijah was kind enough to write about it) and for this April’s Ludum Dare I’ve taken the time to play through over 100 jam games and compiled a list to show you some of the more interesting and innovative takes.
Billy McMath Solves Problems – Armanky
Don’t let this deceptively simple art style fool you, Billy McMath Solves Problems is easily one of the most personality-filled experiences you’ll have this Ludum Dare. The title is pretty self-explanatory: Billy McMath solves all his problems (beating bullies, rocking out in choir, getting the girl) through the power of math.
The game has a variety of difficulty levels and isn’t terribly punishing if you’re not quick on the multiplication, but where the game truly shines is in personality. The entire experience has rough art and fantastic voice acting (even if it’s just shy of Lumpy Space Princess). You can play the full game on the Ludum Dare website.
ScarKrow – Carduus
Another game that is just oozing style, ScarKrow is simply lovely. It has the style and polish of a game that should’ve taken way longer than a weekend.
A fiendishly difficult platformer, it’s the kind of game you’ll want to show off to friend simply because of how beautiful it is. You can play the game online at the Ludum Dare website.
DAGDROM – Ditto
DAGDROM is like if The Floor is Jelly had a beautiful, colorful baby with the Unfinished Swan. Except maybe better. It’s a lovely platformer where you play this strange headless creature running around throwing paint onto potential leaps of faith jumps.
It’s absolutely stunning, both in terms of art and feel. Even when the platforms were difficult to suss out, it always felt like it was worth it to continue on. You can download the game from the Ludum Dare site.
KeyTD – foolmoron
An innovative take on the idea of tower defense, KeyTD is a game wherein your defensive line is your keyboard. Button presses on the specific keys represented on screen allow you to fight against many waves of enemies in an innovative way.
The art style is minimal, sound effects average, but one of the ways in which KeyTD excels is in the strange creativity of theme usage. You can play the game on the Ludum Dare site.
Geisterblut – nuphrator
Geisterblut is charmingly strange, the kind of game that is atmospheric and lovely and also maybe haunted by an angry German ghost-gun. It’s difficult to tell.
I won’t lie and tell you that I’m 100% sure what happens in Geisterblut, but it is an interesting and engaging experience that you are unlikely to find in the world outside game jams. It’s Jazzpunk if Jazzpunk was weirder than it even promised to be. You can download the game from the Ludum Dare website.
Tundra – PaperBlurt
Tundra is a work of interactive fiction made using the Twine engine, a series of interconnected hypertext rooms that lead to a deeper and stranger mystery than perhaps originally imagined.
Your character awakens in the barren, desolate tundra. How did they get there? What is going on with the radio? There’s really no way of knowing. Tundra was made by, arguably, one of the most technically gifted Twine authors working today and is a great example of the ways you can excel within the time limits. The game is playable from the Ludum Dare website.
There are over 2800 games currently up on the Ludum Dare website, so it’s perfectly possible that I missed one. If you have any games that you loved from Ludum Dare 32 that I skipped, be sure to let me know in the comments below.
(If you’re interested in playing my game, it is available here.)