Scouring Twitter for anything relevant one day, I found a retweeted link from @moppin_, creator of Downwell. The thumbnail with the link was my first impression of Skorpulac, a sci-fi looking game just over 1000 people have played. I immediately thought of Metroid and a few shmups I don’t remember the names of left over from the early 80’s. Games that look like this have always been sort of taboo for me. When I first saw Metroid it was the cover art that attracted me, I always appreciated Nintendo’s covers depicting the actual game likeness. But I was like 7 and Metroid wasn’t for me yet, it was dark and lonely and it seemed to be trying to communicate to me and I’m not sure I liked that. Likewise, all those arcade games, Galaxyian, Section Z, Starforce, and the like 100’s of others with no name. They haunt me from memories of being with my grandparents in some dark hall where my grandpa was playing music. Those arcades were always there and my grandma would never let me play them so I watched the pixel sprites eat each other and explode and make the most wonderful sounds. I wanted to know what they were about. I’ve been into story and back story and lore all my life and I just knew that there were narratives attached to all the things I wasn’t allowed to, or was too young to engage with at the time. Turns out most of those games have no story at all, or a bad one. Skorpulac doesn’t come packaged with a story, but it doesn’t come packaged with a price point either. What it does though, is conjure up all those feelings of mystery left over from towering arcade cabinets in my past.
The music was the next perfect thing about this game. As an overall context, games are a multitude of tiny decisions and constraints programmed to communicate something. They come at you in a certain order and the effect you want is that each minute experience takes you somewhere. The music conveys desolate nostalgia, similar to Metroid, but also Fez; in some instances Ori and the Blind Forest. There are times you feel like you have over stayed your welcome, like when the first Resident Evil movie came out and that little AI girl took over and started killing people. There are moments in Skorpulac where my mind wandered in that direction. In Fez and Ori its like someone is watching sometimes, but the feeling is very similar.
I didn’t know what to expect when I went to the itch.io page for this game. But there hasn’t been a single aspect yet that takes me out of the environment. It could be fleshed out but I’m not sure how big this game was supposed to be. For now it seems like something solid with its own significance. Skorpulac is the product of craft, residual creativity, and however small it maybe it sticks in my mind.