DOE and Bashland are two LD26 games feel amazingly polished given that they were made in 48 hours. Bashland describes itself as a “Breakout Mario Mashup”, and does an incredible job of being just that. DOE takes place in a detailed and nuanced world, in which dreams can touch reality.
One of the clever decisions in DOE is to have the game set in a detailed and nuanced world, without ever really referencing that world. In the author’s own words, “The whole universe that I imagined is in the end much bigger than what is exposed in the game.” DOE’s gameplay is familiar — it is a mixture of pushing blocks and avoiding guards — but the visual elements, events, and ending give us a sense that we are experiencing the exposed edge of something bigger.
In the early areas you explore by pushing walls away, presumably with your mind, though there is also evidence to suggest that your mind powers are being suppressed somehow (thus, we may suspect that someone is helping you escape). Early on we get some clues by way of overheard conversation, or intrapersonal communication:
“Let them imagine you’re dead, and you will be.”
“This is going to be tricky… and I can’t dream!”
When the game ends, all I want it more. How do you make a game like this in 48 hours?
Bashland, on the other hand, is not a subtly, nuanced or carefully constructed poem fit tightly in a 48 hour shell; it is a full blown explosion where nostalgia slams up against honestly amazing assets. When I started it, I had to double check that I was not, in fact, playing a jam game. The music, graphics, and gameplay are completely stunning and 100% communicate the subject. The music! It is just baddass.
BASHLAND. When you played breakout, this is what you imagined you were playing. Nice slow reveal. @McFunkypants http://t.co/Cetc19ApVW #LD48
When I tweeted this, I actually hadn’t read the author’s statement quoted above. The game feels like Breakout literally breaking out of the restrictive old-school arcade genre — it’s as though the little ball finally bashed through its enclosure and into someone else’s game. Gradually, we realize this is exactly what happened. It is so satisfying to bash your way through the old Mario stages, and the control is also really nice and smooth. Finally, if you manage to bash away too much of the level you can no longer win: so practice some restraint!