She Remembered Caterpillars

Game LogoDeveloper: jumpsuit entertainment
First Release: 17th January, 2017
Version Played: PC (Steam)
Available: Steam

A girl is determined to save her father from death using the power of fungi.

This is a puzzle game based on navigating little fungus people (gammies) to launch pads, so they can fly away. Getting there involves crossing caterpillar bridges and other obstacles. The gammies are marked by a colour and a shape, which dictates which obstacles they can cross. The design of the puzzles is clear. Using colours and shapes gives a backup for anyone who can’t use one or the other, which is helpful for colourblindness or not being able to see fine detail very well.

The difficulty of the puzzles increases slowly. New mechanics have a simple level to show how they work. However, the text instructions for how things work are sparse. This won’t be a problem for most players most of the time, but some players may need a little more guidance to get started.

Progress through the game is split into acts, which slowly take the player higher up a structure. Each act has a distinctive art theme, which reflects the feel of the story at that point. I loved the style of the art. It’s hand drawn and whimsical, in a twisted fungal kind of way.

The story is told through text, which appears at the start of the levels and acts. It floats between memories of the girl and her father, and trying to save him using the gammies. Other uses of fungi are also hinted at, suggesting a world where fungal things are integral to everything. It’s a non-linear approach to storytelling that I see more often in short stories than games, and it fits very well here.

Gammies fly away

Image Caption: A raised structure of pathways is surrounded by mist. The structure has an organic feel in muted earth tones. Bright caterpillar bridges in blue (with circles), red (with squares) and purple (with Ds) join the sections. Three gammies fly helicopter-style from fungal launch pads. This is what happens on finishing a level. The gammies are little fungus people with faces and colours/shapes to match the bridges.

The progression of the art and story was balance well through the acts. The puzzles were mostly spaced well, as each act introduces a few new things. The exception was act seven, which saw a change in scenery, but no new mechanics. This was the weakest act for me, as the gameplay felt like it was staying on a level rather than advancing. That’s not a strong criticism though, as mainly I felt the game kept things fresh with new gameplay elements.

I enjoyed the game and would recommend it. The shape and colour concept of the puzzles was interesting, and it was very relaxed as there was no time limit. The art and story were great. Everything combined together to create something unique. It took me around five hours to complete the puzzles, but could take more or less time depending on skill. Though this is generally a cute game, note that the story does involve death and medical procedures. Lame is used as an insult at one point.

[A copy of this game was received from the developer for review purposes]

Crowdfunding Arrivals: Mewshrooms and Vampires

I have been known to support crowdfunding campaigns, which means I sometimes get shiny things. Or very fungusy things. Here are my crowdfunding rewards crops for the season.

First is the mewshroom by Stitchmind (Andrew E. Yang). The mewshroom is a mushroom cat toy, who quickly settled in helping with the decorations.

Mushroom cat toy with tinsel

Image Caption: A cuddly toy mushroom cat. The cat has a large red head with embroidered white spots, a white body, frill just under the cap, and a fluffy ball on the end of its tail. The mewshroom is playing with tinsel on a festive plaid backdrop (red and green with gold strands).

Mushroom cat toy with snowflake ornament

Image Caption: Mewshroom faces forwards, showing two dark eyes and an embroidered nose. It stands on a sparkly snowflake ornament.

I backed the campaign at the level for just the toy, though also got a sticker and badge thrown in. The fur is soft and it does stand up despite the huge cap. They come in other colours, but I went with traditional red. Stitchmind has a website where the toys are on sale, and a Zazzle store with related merchandise.

Second is an ebook of Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. This is a vampire novel set in Mexico City. I haven’t read it yet, but I’ll review it when I do. Tinsel probably doesn’t say horror and vampires, but it has some black in it so I’m sure that counts. I own a lot of tinsel.

Silvia has a website with more about her writing, and the book is for sale on Amazon.

Book cover on an iPad with tinsel around it

Image Caption: An iPad on a background of silver/black tinsel and cloth. The screen shows the cover of Certain Dark Things: a face in black and white, with fire and red patterns overlaid. The iPad camera is covered by a sparkly mushroom sticker.

Fungi Anthology Available

Fungi CoverThe Fungi anthology by Innsmouth Free Press is now out (the official release date is 1st December, 2012). It has a mushroom person on the cover! You can’t get much more shiny than that. When my contributor’s copy arrives, I’ll put it on the shelf and admire the mushroomness.

But back on the word part. My story is called Letters to a Fungus, and is a bunch of letters written to a fungus. Admittedly, I don’t get any elaborate title points for that one*. It’s also my first published story about fungi, which is funny considering how much I like them.

The basic inspiration was giant fungi, such as the one discovered in Oregon. People tend to assume the mushroom is the fungus, but a lot of the mushrooms in an area may be produced by a single fungus (much as a bush may have lots of berries, but it’s still a single bush). As fun as mushrooms can be, we shouldn’t ever forget the real body of the fungus is out of sight, and might not be what we expect.

The Fungi website has a short piece on why they picked my story, and my answer to, “Why write about fungi?” (Though I’ll note I’m not a gigantic mushroom with a laptop**.) The Innsmouth website has a page with purchase information, including links to online shops and the option to buy directly from the publisher.

There’s also a Goodreads giveaway going on, ending on December 31, 2012. It’s open to people in the US, Canada, UK and Australia. You can add the book to your to-read list, or review it, from the Goodreads pages: hardback, paperback and Kindle versions.

That’s all the linkage. If you get hold of a copy, I hope you enjoy it!

* If it’d been a series of limericks written to a cat, and been called Letters to a Fungus, I could call it surrealism. But as it is, it’s one of those stories where people will ask, “What’s it about?” because they don’t entirely believe it really is a series of letters to a fungus. Maybe they’ve never written to a fungus. Some people are anti-fungal like that.

** I’m actually a tiny mushroom with a desktop.

# The art is by Oliver Wetter.