What a fortnight it’s been. Here is some free feelgood IF.
Birdland (Brendan Patrick Hennessy)
Bridget, an anxious moppet of a fourteen-year-old, is miserable at summer camp: she doesn’t fit in, she’s tongue-tied around pretty much everyone (but especially the tough-talking teen detective Bell Park), and she just wants to go home. Not only that, sinister birds are invading her dreams and the adults are starting to act very strangely indeed.
Bridget’s behaviour in dreams affects her personality, which in turn opens up different options in the daytime. It’s a really nice mechanic, giving the dreams concrete purpose as well as humour and flavour. It’s written in dialogue only, and in the hands of a less capable writer might not work, but Hennessy’s dialogue zings. I challenge anyone to get through a couple of pages without laughing. Also GAY TEENS WHO DON’T DIE.
Feelgood Factor: HILARIOUSLY ADORABLE.
QUEER TRANS MENTALLY ILL POWER FANTASY (baphomeme)
“TODAY WHEN YOU GET UP IN THE MORNING YOU FIND THAT YOUR BODY HAS BEEN REPLACED WITH A GLITTERING IRIDESCENT MECHA SUIT ENCRUSTED WITH EVERY NICE MESSAGE YOU’VE EVER BEEN SENT”
I play this game every so often and it always gives me warm feelings. It’s about an ordinary day of going to class, being comforted, giving comfort and destroying capitalism whle encased in an iridescent mecha suit.
A short game, it nevertheless packs a punch and, wonderfully, the nice messages from the quote above are crowdsourced by the author, spreading the warmth and love around.
Feelgood Factor: EMPOWERINGLY EYE-MISTY.
Child’s Play (Stephen Granade)
It’s playgroup day and that other baby Zoe keeps stealing your favourite toy. Outrageous!
I haven’t got very far in this because I don’t have much patience for puzzles, but the writing is delightful and getting into the head of a baby is actually quite relaxing. I feel like I have a bit of insight into how Alistair might feel (certainly I felt “cry” was the right solution in a lot of situations…).
Feelgood Factor: BABIES.
Notes: If you are not fond of babies or find them stressful, this is probably not for you.
HIGH END CUSTOMIZABLE SAUNA EXPERIENCE (Porpentine Charity Heartscape)
The breathless, high-octane tale of a CYBER HACKER who just wants their SAUNA EXPERIENCE. It’s nowhere near as dark as most of Porpentine’s games: the dystopian setting is played for laughs rather than the usual feeling of plunging one’s hands into the world’s grimy innards, and it is gloriously shameless about its genre conventions and shortcuts. I love this game for its reeling excitement followed by the delightfully relaxing SAUNA EXPERIENCE.
(I got a huggable manta ray. This is a major life goal for me now.)
Feelgood Factor: REELINGLY ADVENTUROUS.
Notes: swearing, also if you’re like me and are squicked out by plant-human hybrids choose Crystal or Robot hacker rather than Plant.
Tiny Utopias (Caelyn Sandel)
All the Tiny Utopias are good to check out when your mood is low, but Caelyn Sandel’s gentle, soothing landscapes are marvellously meditative. There are four: Palm River, Tiny Home, Tiny Beach and Tiny Sea, and within each are a host of nodes leading to descriptive text.
Sandel includes lovely soundscapes in the background, adding to the sense of gentle relaxation. I return often to these pieces, enjoying the feeling of a few moments of calm.
Feelgood Factor: GENTLY SOOTHING.
(Many thanks to the &if folks for recommendations!)