by Chris Priestman
reviewed on PC
Axel Shokk is both a brilliant pseudonym and gifted artist. I’m rather keen on the idea of throwing surrealism in a blender with pop culture and bubblegum if the result is something akin to his work. His first authored game, TRIP, received an immediate “oooh” from me upon first sight, conjuring up fond memories of LSD: Dream Emulator. I fancied it. The visual similarities and perhaps even the shared premise with LSD (the game, not the drug) caused my expectations to soar but ultimately lead to disappointment. The art is still bloody good though and I’ll have some of it for my wall one day.
Rarely has a game incited me to begin playing it in the early hours of the morning, dreary-eyed, with only the nip of the night air holding up my eyelids. Perhaps I thought that the quasi-mind trip I was about to encounter would be more potent with my brain so willing to drift into dreaming. Absent of mind, I could only mash the keyboard until colours started appearing on the screen. And bloody heck, the bright pink main menu struck my face like that time the fizz from lemonade whooshed up my nose.
Now bleary and the victim of an assault, I pined for my most plump of cats to tell me everything was going to be alright. But he wasn’t around, so the moth that had just fluttered in through the window and proceeded to stare at the monitor from his perch on top would have to do. With little option other than to enter the only world available, the aptly-named TRIP, the moth and I braced ourselves for a good lashing with a rainbow coloured whip. Finger hovering over the Return key, breath toothpaste fresh and eyes now twitching, I slammed my pinky down.
An explosion of colours preceded a floating, box-headed fella in front while huge geometric structures rose above and upbeat drumming crashed around the room. If it wasn’t for the juddery frame rate I could’ve been dreaming. It certainly startled my winged companion, who dropped just a little bit, now silhouetting himself on the screen. “We’re not so different, you and I, oh lecherous little Lepidoptera”, I might have mumbled. For we were concordant in our augophilia, and keen to strain our eyes and sup upon this multifaceted palette before us. As to matters of cognition, the task at hand involved spinning on the spot, observing each open valley and peering at what may lay ahead. Failing that, a blind step forward committed us towards a desert, before which stood two jolly, caped lady-giants who coaxed us forward. Their eagerness was at first a little unsettling, but passing them proved uneventful, which made it abundantly clear that the only danger in this place resided in the imagination.
The drums had faded now, leaving just a desolate whistle in the wind. The desert was lonely and appealed only as a facility to empty on to. So time it was to seek grounds anew, and strides took us towards yet another valley, this time with a placid stream decorated with full sentences. Pleasant chimes faded in as the valley came to an end, where it spilled into a lake and a grassy field. Enjoying the new blend of colours and shapes led to a new sound to be discovered, beckoning around a corner where a giant sat in mid-air awaiting visitors, almost like an expectant deity. Things carry on like this for a while, with new sounds teasing further discoveries, which we observed in mid-frolic; assigning meaning and stories to obscurity as if handing out free pamphlets.
A visual cacophony, odd enough to satsify your imagination and eyes
A one time deal which runs out of speed too fast