Off Menus


Ian here—

Ah, the game menu. So often in PC games, it is accessed by hitting the “esc” key, and so often it is just that: an escape from the pressures of the game. A place where players can put things on pause, and can retreat into a familiar suite of low-pressure activities. Saving. Loading. Inventory management. Party management. Gamma settings. Resolution settings. Pretending to know the difference between trilinear and anisotropic texture filtering, and then getting up to pee. So calming. So safe.

Except when it’s not.  Because sometimes, one encounters a menu that is just a little … off. An “off menu,” shall we say.

Below the fold, an appreciation of two games, including one from 2016. Tis the season for year-end retrospectives and “best of” lists. Unfortunately, I had neither the time nor the budget to expose myself to many of 2016’s releases in the calendar year of 2016, so I’m not well-positioned to mount a case that CALENDULA (Blooming Buds Studios, 2016) is actually one of my “favorite” games to release this year. But I did want to slip in a write-up of it before December gives up the ghost. (Spoiler warning for both games … including one that’s over a decade old.)

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