I've finished my first game since Vatn Squid. This was my contribution to the GameJolt IndieGames Demake Competition. The game I chose to do for this was a game called Hold Off Red by Maddy Thorson, the person responsible for Jumper, Give Up Robot, and a hole slew of others.
On the surface, my decision to demake Hold Off Red may seem strange to most everyone I talk to; it's a fairly old game (first finished in 2005, then remade as a flash project in 2009) and it isn't one of their best known games (I don't recall reading too much about it on games blogs when they re-released it). HOWEVER, I just get this, vibe out of the game that I really haven't gotten out of too many other games. Ever.
To sum up Hold Off Red, you play as a heart, stationary in the middle of the play-field and unable to move, that has to fend off Woes by shooting them. There's RPG elements and strategy involved galore (you have a bunch of different 'ultimate attacks' you can choose from, all with nice advantages and disadvantages).
But that's not why I really like Hold Off Red.
I'm very likely reading into it a little too much, but on the surface, the game appears to be just that description above. But, why Woes? Why even a Heart? The symbolism just kind of strikes me everytime. I always feel that Hold Off Red is a game about hopelessness, or at least a representative of all of the things that make us feel hopeless. You can't really win. All you can do is try to stop as many Woes as you can before you're eventually completely overrun and have no chance to survive. It's just... so damn BLEAK.
What's even more special about this is the fact that a narrative that interesting doesn't get in the way or consume the gameplay at all. It is companioned with it; bold enough to peak your interest, yet subtle enough that you can only think about it at key moments.
If you haven't played Hold Off Red, you at least need to try it. It's not really for twitch-shooter people or anything, but the difficulty curve is really nice, though it takes just a tad bit to get into it. Just go PLAY IT already.
And for you retro enthusiasts, you should play mine. It's fun in it's own right, and surely not for the same reasons Hold Off Red is. I tried to stay as close to faking the specs of a GameBoy as I could. There were really only a couple of things wrong with it that don't jive with the GameBoy style, but I felt I did a good job.
Concerning my other projects, they're still on, and I'm going to post about them here pretty soon to make up for the week I missed. Thank you readers, and thank you Maddy for making such a wonderful game! It has truly inspired me since I first came across it all the way back in 2005!
Editor's Notes, 2020
: Maddy had not yet come out as nonbinary in 2010, so I've made sure to avoid deadnaming or misgendering them by editing all references to them I had made in the original post.
: It might be a stretch, and I don't know if the developer has ever spoken about this (again, because it is not one of their more popular games) — but an updated reading of the game's implied message could honestly be about being a closeted nonbinary peroson. I've (not so famously) started to realize in recent years that suteF was very likely a manifestation of my repressed gender identity at the time — not so much in theme, but in the atmosphere the game presents and that I remember being in an extremely arduous mental health crisis during development.