Lovecraft-inspired horror game explores the cost of creation

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Well is the latest microscopic horror game from Yames, the developer behind other puzzling dishes like Water matrix world and Discover my body. It takes about 20-30 minutes to complete (maybe a bit longer if you, like me, have trouble getting the game to work in full screen). Yames releases these little games periodically, first at their Patreon subs, then for a small fee on itch.io a bit later. They’re secret until they’re not, and I still can’t quite remember how I came across them.

From December 27, 1929 to January 4, 1930, famous author of strange fiction and bigot noted HP Lovecraft released a series of 36 sonnets known collectively as Yuggoth mushrooms. The game of Yames Well is based on the 14-line poem of the same name, developing the original’s obsessive story into an interactive experience that is played with one button. Both are as gruesome and beautiful as you might expect, but the game is tucked away in a place so deep and dark in my mind that I haven’t figured out how to flush it out yet.

During WellIt’s about half an hour, you’ll use the Z key to lower a rope into a hole in the ground, pull it out, examine what you find, pet a friendly cat, and move forward through the game’s eerie plot. deals with a farmer by the name of Seth Atwood, who, just like in Lovecraft’s poem, went mad while digging a well on his property. His nephew, who was helping with the project, eventually killed him and carved “ungodly signs” into his naked body.

A pixelated cat wearing a pentagram charm on her collar.

Screenshot: Yames / Kotaku

The well has since been walled up, and it’s up to you and your anonymous companion (he owns the cat, by the way) to see where it leads. What you find is a confusing collection of tokens, each more bewildering than the next: a totem pole that contracts and transforms in your hand; something plump and throbbing “like a woman’s belly full of slugs”; and finally, the corpse of the cat who graciously accepted your affection as you worked, easily identified by the pentagram medallion he wears.

Suddenly you are somewhere else, maybe at the bottom of the hole itself. It is your job to help the birth of something. You pull on what appears to be an umbilical cord until the creature is free. “She’s beautiful” are the last words you hear before the credits roll.

The act of creating something, whether it’s jotting down a poem, digging a well, giving birth, or focusing every fiber of your being on guiding a supernatural abomination through the fabric of reality, its ethereal world of eternal torment at our most brief. – can be painful. To tell you the truth, just going through that previous sentence, making sure you imbued it with a sense of fluidity and meaning, was enough to wear me out briefly.

I say “maybe” because there are some among us for whom creation, at least to outside observers, seems as instinctive as breathing. You know the type, the bright, natural artists who can create a wonderful original melody within minutes of sitting down at a piano, or scribble a hilarious and realistic caricature of the noisy couple at the table next door with just a broken pencil. and a towel. I am not one of those people. Of course, these skills are almost always the product of years of hard work that I’m not always aware of, but I hate and love these people equally all the same. My own minor flirtations with creation are never so easy.

A pixelated body marked with strange signs.

Screenshot: Yames / Kotaku

I have experienced several nervous episodes of varying intensity while writing my recent More heroes 3 review, with solutions ranging from “I need to get up and drink a glass of water before I scream” to “I will go to bed and sleep for 14 hours”.

Not only was it important for me to “get it right” as a longtime fan of Goichi “Suda51” Suda’s work, but also the fact that professional criticism still doesn’t come naturally to me. When I finished, I felt like every sentence of that 2,056 word review had been viciously torn from me. And although it was a bit tidy for Kotaku, I felt like my blood was on those draft pages next to the comparisons with El Topo and Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Even the most skilled artists are limited by physical limitations. No work will ever equal the boundless imagination of the human mind. The realm of the possible doesn’t have to contend with hiding brushstrokes or conforming to an academic’s idea of ​​perfect grammar and use of words. Concessions, painful or worthy of a shrug of the shoulders, will always be necessary to transform something of thought into reality; no one crosses this border without losing something in the process, be it a finger or a fingernail.

Well is ostensibly about a cult and its monstrous deity, yes, but it’s also about the cost of creation. Artists from all walks of life and mediums engrave their works in their skin so that everyone can see them. They give up a part of themselves to offer the world something new, even if it doesn’t match the seamless image they have in their mind. The artist Is as best they can to shape reality into at least a fleeting likeness of beauty in their imaginations even though, in the end, all of them see is a bloody, slimy mess where others perceive a poem, sculpture or painting.


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