The increasing popularity of indie video games has been great for the industry. Free from the constraints of sales targets and marketing requirements, indie developers can focus on achieving their artistic vision. Sometimes these visions are brilliant. Other times, as the following titles demonstrate, they're the product of hallucinogens and insanity, driving us all to madness.
8. Mr. Legs.
The relative ease of developing for mobile platforms has allowed countless strange little games to pop up on smartphones. Perhaps none of these is creepier than Mr. Legs, and not just because anything named Mr. Legs has to be either unsettling or gay pornography (or unsettling gay pornography).
In what looks like a 1920s cartoon gone horribly wrong, you lead your titular protagonist on a quest to devour cherries. You do this by lengthening or shortening his legs, either shrinking them down to subhuman nubs or stretching them until they're the spindly appendages of a human-spider hybrid. But don't hit an obstacle, or Mr. Legs' dead-eyed gaze shifts to an angry glare that suggests he'd be just as happy to devour our children as he would fruit.
The twisted piano music only reinforces the creepiness. Sure, he's eating cherries now, but come nighttime he's going to be chasing you through your nightmares, happy music tinkling away in the background as his long strides effortlessly defeat your attempts to escape.
7. The Cat and the Coup.
Billed as a "documentary game," The Cat and the Coup lets gamers play a role they've dreamed about for years - Mohammad Mosaddegh's cat.
Mosaddegh, for those of you not up on your 1950s political history, was a democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran who was overthrown in a military coup organized by the CIA and MI6. He was also, apparently, a cat lover, and your job as his favored feline is to lead him through memories of the most significant events of his life.
The makers of The Cat and the Coup deserve accolades for using video games to examine a crucial, yet often overlooked, moment in history, but the surreal visuals will leave you knowing less about Mosaddegh than when you started. Maybe we just slept through some of our history classes, but we don't remember Mosaddegh trying to resolve an oil crisis by negotiating with an anthropomorphic rabbit monster. Symbolism is one thing; madness is another.
6. Ulitsa Dimitrova.
There aren't many games where you play as a child, and those that do exist tend to be light-hearted. Costume Quest, for example, lets you recapture the whimsy and wonder of Halloween. But then there's Ulitsa Dimitrova, which has you controlling a cigarette addicted seven year old who lives on the streets of St. Petersburg. Because in Russia, even the video games have to be soul-crushingly depressing.
Indulge in all your beloved childhood activities: beg for change, vandalize cars, rob liquor stores, barter with drug addicts and hang out with your alcoholic, prostitute mother. Sound unsavory? Well, too bad; you've got to do these things, or your little boy lies down on the sidewalk and freaking freezes to death.
But all games run out of content sooner or later, so no matter what you do, the little guy eventually takes an early trip to the grave. There's no turning your life around in Ulitsa Dimitrova - existence is cruel, meaningless and short. Happy gaming!
5. Every Day the Same Dream.
Do you work in an office? Does it bore you? If you're reading this at work, I'm going to assume the answer is yes. So escape the humdrum of the nine-to-five world with Every Day the Same Dream, a game about the humdrum of the nine-to-five world. With a twist!
Each game day involves getting up early, taking a boring commute to your bland office, getting chewed out by your boss, doing tedious work, then heading home and hitting the hay. This process repeats forever (just like in the title!) unless you experiment and fulfill hidden tasks, like skipping work to pet cows or getting fired by showing up in your boxers. Find all these secrets and you'll go through one final day where you don't encounter a single person until you see yourself commit suicide. Because that's deep, man.
Look, nobody's thrilled about having to work in an office, but if it's driving you to suicide you have bigger issues to work through. This is a portrayal of an office job by someone who I'm guessing has never had one in their life, and while the hidden tasks are clever the concept is ridiculous. Don't tell that to the commenters on YouTube though, because to them this is right up there with Nietzsche.