I played: Fear Less!

I played Fear Less! by Innomin and atpalicis. It's an endless runner that takes probably 10-60 minutes to "complete" depending on your skill. It deals with nightmares about dying.

I love the visual style. The desaturated palette with big pixels but still relatively high resolution reminds me of Game Boy Color games. The high detail with the simulated pixel grid makes it feel unreal and dream-like.1 The look on the character's face captures exactly a feeling which starts as fear and progresses into defiance without ever needing to change.

There's all sorts of small ways the game puts forward descriptions of fear. The specificity of the skulls with ribbons as passive reminders of your previous attempts. Losing ground by tripping over tombstones, fear of failure leading to failure. Later in the game pacifism is available as a tool of the strong and able compared to violence as a tool for the weak and afraid.

Many games have started including F2P-style "upgrades," usually to a frustrating end - Ridiculous Fishing being a recent high-profile game I thought suffered from its unnecessary slow pacing. This is the first game I recall that uses that upgrade process to tell a story rather than just eat time. (Again, compare Ridiculous Fishing which has a story but upgrades exist only to trigger rather than reinforce it.)

Unfortunately it still has some parts which only exist to eat time. To reach the ending you need to unlock all the medals (achievements) and some of those require failing in specific ways or passing milestones that feel arbitrary. I think it would benefit from removing the achievements and replacing the ending trigger with simply having all upgrades. Flawless running could provide a coin multiplier or speed increase rather than a binary on/off trigger.

  1. A similar effect was used to similar ends in the exploration/horror game Dawning