Ramblings: Strawberry Cubes

 

STRAWBERRY CUBES 5_6_2017 8_39_59 PM

Strawberry Cubes is a game by Loren Schimdt, available for $2 on itch.io. It presents itself as a platformer, a woman exploring a bizarre world full of plants and bones that seems to be falling apart.

Strawberry Cubes is a game that embraces glitch aesthetics. The walls distort, flashing pinks appearing and disappearing. Text can’t hold a consistent form in this world, struggling to keep from being erased or cycling through different characters. Your character can’t jump, but she can slide up a wall by pressing against it, an intentional failure of collisions. Visuals sometimes shift for seemingly unknown reasons, statues of birds morphing into taller red versions of the protagonist. Even the description of the game on itch.io falls into madness, a garble of ramblings and code that’s most certainly intentional.

The clearest messages that the game gives you is the instructions in its read me. The woman you’re playing as walks around with arrow keys or WASD. Space lets her through doors, but if you have them, she can also plant seeds that sprout into plants that act as makeshift ladders. K kills her while B acts as a teleport to the first room. There are several powers that’s told in the instructions that’s claimed to not be available at the start.

There are also several powers that you have from the start but are never told about. The instructions invite you to try other keys, so I did. “F” summoned up a frog, casually hopping around. The frog was also not friendly, hopping into our fellow and killing her instantly. Pressing the correct key when confronted with a block of cycling symbols also establishes checkpoints, which will come in useful as this is one of those games where you die in one hit.

Strawberry Cubes is a game of discovery with all of its unknowns, the aesthetics conveying an unnatural environment as you explore. You’re invited to draw up a map, because while the world’s form morphs, its structure does not. Where will your explorations eventually lead to? Who knows? You aren’t given any immediate goals, so, at least starting out, they’re a mystery much like everything else.

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I’m actually hesitant to say much more on Strawberry Cubes. I feel that this game is something to be played yourself, rather than read about, because I think the whole appeal is exploring this world and figuring out what to do and what you can do. It’s your journey through a glitch land, trying to find coherence and meaning in all this mess.

Strawberry Cubes is strange for a platformer, so it might not be too appealing to people that want to play more standard games. As for me however, it’s welcoming in a sea of indie platformers that prides itself on super-hard precision platforming.

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