Picking up the Pieces, by Cole Chittim, is an experimental narrative game about mental health. It’s sort of a low poly walking sim, where you experience a cross-section of the life of the narrator, picking up the pieces of their life.

The game grapples with feelings related to external pressures, like unsupportive friends or reading news stories about people relatively more successful than you are. Or feeling like you’re stuck in a messy room, or trapped in the dungeon of your mind.

I thought I understood my brain better than this.
But, now, I feel like I never did.

Picking up the Pieces carries a poignant message to consider for these last few days of 2019. Maybe it’s time to step back and rethink the negative feedback loops we’re stuck in, face our fears directly, and focus on what you can control in your life.

This narrative game takes about ten minutes to play, but you’ll be thinking about its message for longer than that.

Picking up the Pieces is available for Windows and macOS on itch.io.

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Interacting with the blinded scientist, Patrick, in the game Intercom.

Does it ever feel like you need superpowers, money, or an audience to be a hero? Not so in Intercom, by J. J. Morgan. You can be a real hero by simply pressing space to beep.

You find Patrick, a laboratory assistant, stuck blinded in his lab. Using the beeps of your intercom, you invent a beep-based language to help Patrick sense and escape the traps of the lab. With a few short levels of adventure, and coming up with new beep sequences, you'll be able to get him to safety.

This game came in 3rd place in the GMTK Jam 2019, with the theme "only one," which is masterfully applied by only having one way for you to interact with Patrick. (A more-polished variant of this game would be perfect for a particular playful handheld I'm excited for.) It's short and sweet; you'll be through it in 5 minutes.

The flowery bird boy you befriend and help heal, in Compassion.

Compassion is a narrative experience game by Ivan Papiol, about getting help when you're in pain.

You encounter an injured bird, in need of help. When you interact with the bird, the thoughts that appear on-screen reflect more gloomy thoughts about how you deal with pain. Poking the bird with a stick explores the ways you can pull away when someone tries to be there and care for you. Offering the bird some flowers dives into the validation and, well, the compassion you can feel when you open up and let others provide help. If you think about it, in a way, that bird is almost like yourself.

This game carries a tang of extra meaning for me. If you check the archive of this site, things slowed down in July. I had a hard time dealing with some things going on in my life, and figuring out how to navigate the road ahead hasn't been easy.

You can't erase pain, but it's easier when you're taking my hand.

Caring for my flowery bird boy was somehow the highlight of my day. It's games and experiences like this that reenergize me. I'm gonna come back to this game when it feels like the sticks and rocks are clouding my judgment.

The old man talking to the fish in Under What?

Under What? is an interactive visual comic by Dan Gartman. It’s an adorable little tale of a fisherman who falls in the water and has some unexpected lovely banter with an old fish under the sea.

The art of this game shines brightly—you can tell the game is made by an artist with a sharp eye for visual storytelling. The sequence where the fisherman falls into the water really makes it feel like you’re drifting downward with him, even though you’re just watching a short visual comic. The vignette of the fish city has such a vibrant and alive atmosphere, I almost want it as a framed painting in my house.

The fisherman falling into water.

Though the game is most potent for its art, the writing isn't all that bad either. You make small talk with the fish, and you're also subjected to few semi-philosophical questions. It's also got a few punchy jokes—if you (the fisherman) quip that it stinks like fish, the fish retorts, “have you ever had to smell smoked people?”

Under What? is a short and sweet little experience—it’ll take fifteen minutes of your time and give you a few laughs. It's a great sort of game to click through with your morning coffee. Under What? is available on itch.io for Windows.

A horde of shoppers in Eat The Rich, furiously shopping for the best deals. (Screenshot)

Eat The Rich is a…satirical capitalist shopping simulator? Yeah, that’s probably a good way to describe it.

You take indirect control of a mob of puffy pink eraser people who are stampeding a department store on Black Friday, grabbing and buying everything you can find. Fetch all the TVs, shopping carts, and toilets you can, and run out with the sweet, sweet savings.

This game had me giggling like a fool. It feels like a perfect juxtaposition of Octodad and Happy Wheels in all the best, silly ways. The blobby eraser people flail around with such absurdity that, when you take control, you can’t help but just laugh as they stumble about the world, falling over themselves trying to navigate around the store.

It's Black Friday: Enter the shop, grab items, buy items, score sweet savings.

And how can I forget Jeff Bezos! You’re literally running around a store named Bezos. Literally taking all the money and extra savings to be had from the capitalist-king himself. It doesn't get better than this, folks.

Truthfully, this game is closer to a short prototype, but the content that’s here is just so silly and compelling that it’s absolutely worth it to spend ten minutes and go through the content that’s here. There’s no failure condition as far as I can tell, just pure silliness.

You’ll spend ten minutes crying with laughter while playing Eat The Rich, and it’s available on itch.io for Windows.

There's more to be seen!