Saturday Spotlight: War Nose, War Twat, SYNSO:CE

War Twat

Rob Fearon is a British indie developer. He makes shooters. He’s cropped up on Electron Dance a bit, which is probably how I came to buy a good number of his games in the form of Bagfull of Wrong.

Joel Goodwin of ED reckons that at the heart of shooters lies a basic human desire to clean. Shooting enemies and watching them disappear from the screen, he argues, is part of an impulse to tidy up, to impose order on chaos. He’s probably got a point, at that.

But these games? The fuck, man. I cannot tidy this.

War Twat and War Nose are basically the same game. The latter is an updated version with “no Forsyth and a very hasty name change because Steam and because SSSH KIDS”. War Nose has slightly sharper-edged graphics and a new avatar; I prefer War Twat’s avatar because it is basically a flying dot. This is very useful for identifying your hitbox.

Not that it makes much difference. Here are my top scores:

WARNOSE: 503 points, 34 seconds

War Twat: 650 points, 41 seconds

Shades of Super Hexagon, anyone?

These games are kind of off the wall. It’s like¬†Robotron went on a drunken bender with the bullet hell genre and a broken graphics card.

The name of the game is to get a Brucie. How do you get a Brucie? I have got literally no fucking clue.

My eyes are dried out. My contact lenses feel painted on. The air conditioner in my office is extracting all moisture from my soul.

Game over. Try again.

Game over. Try again.

Game over. Try again.

Achieve a higher score. A longer life. It doesn’t matter why. The numbers don’t matter. The attempt matters. Watch the number go up, or not change. It’s all the same.

Shoot. Shoot. Dodge. Lose track of yourself.

Chaos. Stimulation. Joy.

But there’s more in the Bagful of Wrong. Reach in and what do we pull out next? Squid Yes! Not So Octopus.

Top score? 76,200 points, a 1:03 life.

I achieved that with my soon to be patented strategy of moving left to right and back again. Keep firing. Never stop. Maybe slow down your movement to ‘dodge’.

The control scheme of this game is a strange thing. The cursor keys move your avatar in a way that’s neither wholly relative or absolute. There’s no slamming down on keys, simulating a console joystick, to switch directions sharply. There’s no constant turning circles induced by holding down left or right. You hold down a directional key and your avatar turns in that direction, and once it’s facing that way it’ll keep moving that way.

It’s a deliberate design decision. It doesn’t play like these games tend to. It’s cool. I’m unutterably shit at it.

I’m not wildly convinced that SYNSO:CE is a success. It’s probably just that I literally cannot get my head around that control scheme and the turning. My failure is telling. Regardless, I’m glad this exists. I like that there are games I can’t play. It means that I could learn to.

No doubt there are plenty more treats in this bag. Treats of wrongness. I’ll delve in again once I’ve unpeeled my eyes.

SYNSO: CE