Welcome back to Click To Play , the new-old regular series that takes a look at a new browser-based curio each week to further the fine art of procrastination. We accept absolutely no responsibility if you get caught at work/school/uni/on the loo gloriously wasting time on the games listed here when you should be working.
This week's offering -- "The Uncle who works for Nintendo" -- is a text-based horror game from programmer Michael Lutz and artist Kimberly Parker. It transports you back to primary school, and a video games-stuffed sleepover at your best friend's house. Thus follows an evening of gaming and chatting about everything and nothing, until midnight rolls around and a surprise guest turns up.
It's been touted as a horror game, but The Uncle who works for Nintendo is more of a creepy, unsettling thought piece. There are no jump scares to be found here, rather a twisting, psychologically-haunting tale that begs to be played through as soon as you've finished it. There are six endings to find, and numerous snippets of dialogue and narrative tidbits to uncover. It doesn't take long -- I'd found all of the endings in just over half an hour -- but it's important to replay the game several times as it's only through that repetition, and playing about with certain elements and options that the game's backstory reveals itself.
It's a game that manages to cultivate a spine-tingling atmosphere through some very well-worked sound design, too, along with some interesting uses of the Twine engine that underpins the game, occasionally breaking the fourth wall and making you think the thing's broken (it isn't). But the best thing about it is the way it renders the familiar scene of playing a game over at a friends house, and then carefully subverts the seemingly-innocuous comfort of that image more deeply with each subsequent playthrough. There are things in this game that will resonate with anyone who found themselves on the outside looking in, and themes and motifs that sparked my brain into considering things like addiction and inclusion and competition, and how the best of friends know how to hurt you the most.
I won't say any more, but you should give it a go. It's free, it's quick, and it might make you think. But definitely give it several playthroughs. It's more The Twilight Zone than The Walking Dead, but I found it to be astonishingly effective and affecting.