Scratching that Itch…io: Butterfly Soup... soon


This is where I am with it since Friday, which was when I last played. I’ve been writing up my thoughts since then. I plan on returning but I’m not sure if I should be waiting for the other shoe to drop so to speak. The game has already left a pretty distinct impact on me, and there’s more than enough to write about and process from the time I already have with the game, but I would feel bad writing something up if I am missing part of the experience and have an incomplete reading of it.

I mean, that is already the case, because I did not read the store page description until maybe an hour or so into the game, so a lot of context is missing from that first hour or so and I should probably revisit it.


i got a lot more out of the first section on my second time playing through the beginning largely because I had not read that description.



I’m returning to the game as promised. I’m starting to think it is brilliant and a lot of effort has been intended into it now that I’m coming back in and assuming that there is no end. It starts to feel like a state of a real person on a particular subject. Typically this type of thing is presented in the context as an obsession, but based on the beginning and the way it resonates with my personal experiences of finding ways to sleep and/or meditating, I see it as just a banal state.


Freeways made my top games of 2017 list. I found it through and it left a massive impression on me for its easily understood take on the Zachtronics-like problem solving puzzle game.

Here’s my post for the waypoint GILM awards (just more description about why I love it): The GILM Awards 2017 Favorite Small Developer Game


I feel like trying to play Yume Nikki again would be more useful in an examination of Black Room than trying to finish Black Room. I’m going to load it up later today and look around.

Edit: Actually, I’d rather try playing some of these for comparison.

If they don’t supply me with the perspective I need, I’ll go back to Yume Nikki.


There is an end to Black Room, I wasn’t far from it.


I really need to get there. I’m curious if it’s going to wrap back around to something similar to the sequence at the beginning.
I’m swamped right now so my writeup is going a lot slower than I wanted it to.


When you load the game in the browser, one of the options is “Browse Rooms” the sequential rooms are listed under “Rooms” so you can just skip to wherever you want.


I just downloaded Black Room and definitely want to give it a playthrough down the road. A teacher of mine recommended this game called Void Pyramid, too.

But I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned it on this thread yet, because I eternally recommend it to every chance I get to. Please go play Beeswing! You can buy it here, but if you’d rather not purchase it, you can play it in the browser for free. It’s one of my favorite games!

Though, A Warning: the game talks a lot about death, and if you don’t like gore, there’s one particular scene (that I don’t really like) that comes up that’s pretty gross. To avoid it: when in the forest, don’t walk up to the bird. There might be other small things but I don’t recollect them.


Thoughts on The Black Room

Alternate Title: The Black Room Will Make You Remember That Embarrassing Shit You did in Middle-School and it Doesn’t Even Care


I don’t usually find myself feeling confused while trying to figure out what a game is about. Though I don’t really think that’s to my credit. Most games aren’t very subtle when it comes to themes or what they are intend to make the player feel. This is a medium where a game named Brothers has the subtitle A Tale of Two Sons to make sure you really understand what it’s about. Even in cases where a game is purposely vague, I never feel like it’s because I’m too dense to understand it, just information is purposely fuzzy. The sorts of games that make people say “stories don’t need to have answers for everything.”

The Black Room made me feel confused. Incredibly so.

I probably should have read the game’s store page first.

The Black Room is a game about falling to sleep, specifically the moments right before, and going down rabbit-holes on the internet late at night. This is important to know, otherwise the imagery, the words, the everything will leave you profoundly confused. I mean, I’m still profoundly confused, but with some reassurance that maybe that confusion isn’t all on me.

The game’s primary mechanic is strong: you are presented with a room, changing the shape of the room will change what you can see. The goal is to find the glowing object in the room and interact with it, leading you into another room. Usually there are other interactive objects hidden around the room. Some of these objects might reveal some text, others might send you into a mini game of sorts. The key aspect of this that I haven’t mentioned yet is that this is a browser game. So when I mentioned changing the shape of the room, what you’re actually doing is changing the size of your web browser! It never failed to make me feel a touch clever to expand and shrink the window to find all of the secrets in what was otherwise a humbling experience.

The rooms and scenes created in this game are striking to say the least. The first couple of rooms you enter are a bit plain, but still wonderful. Furniture of varying sizes and perspectives are pretty much the only things to observe in these rooms. As you progress through more rooms, things start to change into the fantastic. An ASCII art-piece here, a textured floor there, maybe a weird string of dialogue along the way. Eventually, these visions get much stranger and more inventive. Mythic beings greet you in each room, otherworldly plants and creatures start to pop up. Along with the rooms becoming more foreign, the secret landscapes you stumble upon do as well, with assorted sprites of all kinds all over the place.

The game was “conceived as a feminist dungeon crawler,” and I would say it succeeds in this regard. It evokes dungeon crawlers in many subtle ways. Stretching and shrinking the room sometimes feels like peeking around a corner as you try to look for hidden objects behind windows and around doors. And it’s portrayal of women seems to be… in a sense, radical? There’s something powerful about seeing characters I’m so familiar with outside of their usual games - where they were often fighting or treated as not much more than eye candy - just living their lives.

I should reassure you, yes, I felt confused because I felt I was missing something while playing this game. But I don’t want to imply that was because I wasn’t having an engaging experience. To the contrary, my curiosity was constantly piqued by the images and sounds and writing in this game. Especially the imagery. I wanted to make sure that I had good screenshots of the game for this piece, and each time I entered a new room I kept thinking “well, I NEED to capture a screenshot of this!” I have 34 captures now (and won’t be showing most of them because, well, you need to see this). Every vista will have you looking for the snipping tool or cmd-Shift-4. Just as much the game had me constantly reflecting on myself. This game evoked childhood memories, my greatest fears, my dreams. This game knows how to grab a hold of your brain and extract the very thoughts you would only think about as you head to sleep.

The Black Room is a great companion to help you explore a ton of different memories and ideas, vaguely guiding you from one thought to another. If you’re anything like me, you may not entirely get every image, sound, or verse, but you might just leave The Black Room a bit more understanding of yourself.



I liked how a lot of those 16-bit layouts started to feel like animated fabric-patterns to me, or something like blue-willow dishware or antique wallpaper patterns.

I also like how Black Room seems to describe how a mental excercise used for a specific real-world purpose became a mixture of a place she returns to and a technique that seems to have eventually worked into her artistic methodology.


I think that’s a really good comparison! As for myself they reminded me a ton of making things in Gamemaker way back when (and I only mean that in the most loving of ways). That and the earlyish internet, apparently every game reminds me of old ytmnd memes (because every game is six degrees away from ytmnd). They felt like the sorts of things I’d have stumbled upon late night web-browsing back in the early-mid 00’s.

My understanding of the mental exercise and it’s relation to the game is still very fuzzy. Maybe these are images evoked from things the author would see in the mental exercise?

I’m curious if you took anything away from the ending?

I thought that maybe the ending was representative of you joining the others that are asleep, or maybe the others who follow the mental exercise?


I saw it as joining a mythical tradition greater than her personal family history. Similar to the way she had to get past the framework within which the excercise was introduced to her (as a game) she surpassed the perspective that this was just a way to fall asleep and it was just something within herself and her personal use. It became symbols and art and culture and a way to participate in that.

I also had trouble trying to see how the 16-bit stuff fit into the hypnogogic hallucinations. I started treating them as some sort of fruit that the Black Room grows. Like, at first she is furnishing the Blacl Room with furniture and images of places so generic that a google-image search describes it well enough. Thenshe starts treating it as a place to establish memories of her actual experiences of those generic concepts (that’s how I think of the video clips). Then she starts wondering “Why make the room black at all?”… it seems to eventually become a creative space in her head multipurpose enough that she can reappropriate the sprites from the games she is engaged with. I don’t know, the videogame stuff always felt somewhat disconnected from the narrative for me.


“Midnight Games” and games you only play at certain times or occasions

Why is Time and Game Pairing Taking Over The World?

I first played The Black Room on the 12th of this month, just a touch past midnight (that is to say, in my head it felt like the 11th, despite technically being the 12th, but whatever). After a full day of working and socializing, the game turned out to be the perfect compliment to my overstimulated, but exhausted mind. And this was I even knew what the game was about.

Choosing to start a new game past midnight is a choice I don’t make often. Usually if I want to play a game this late, I look to something more palatable and familiar, a few runs of Spelunky, a couple rounds of Titanfall, another attempt at a level of HITMAN, something like that. Starting a new game means I need to be at attention; ready to learn a new ruleset or take in an unfamiliar story. But some games feel perfect like the perfect midnight games. Night in the Woods was this for me, I actually refused to play it any earlier in my subsequent sessions with the game. This was also the case with SOMA, . Breath of the Wild also became a midnight game for me, though that became an Entire Thing.

(Mostly unrelated story of how Breath of the Wild became a Midnight Game and why drinking coffee at 11:30pm on March 3rd, 2017 was a mistake)

Breath of the Wild accidentally became a midnight game as well, though that ended up turning into something else. I bought Breath of the Wild on the Wii U earlier in the day and let it download and after a busy evening, I drank a 16 oz bottle of coffee and started to play. It was such a mysterious and subdued experience compared to the previous games in the series, and hit all the right notes. So much so, about an hour in, I decided I should give into the worst of impulses and actually buy a switch so I could, um fully enjoy this experience. Cut to me desperately trying to ignore my wide-awake, caffeine addled brain and get some sleep, so I could wake up at 7:00 and drive to the one Target 45 minutes away that had the Switch in stock. I got it in gray along with a Venti Caramel Macchiatto I ordered on the way out the store.

I find that I mentally organize games into optimal times to play them. Some groupings I use include:

  • Midnight Games: Games I generally will only play after midnight on a weekend. These are usually games with some sort of indescribable mysterious vibe or the occasional horror game.
  • Weekend Games: Games I find I will only play during long stretches on a day off. Usually verbose games that take lots of time to really sink their teeth into the player, many traditional RPG’s and story-focused games fall into this category for me. Many open world games also fall into this category for me
  • Weekday Games: I don’t always have the time or mental energy for games on the weekdays, but when I do I like things that have a strong core loop, easily divided into bite-sized pieces, and primarily mechanics over story. These are usually tactical management games, roguelikes/lites, and more run based games like Monster Hunter: World.
  • Saturday Morning Games: I’ve found more recently, there are some games I like to play early Saturday to wake me up, usually before having to do something that day. These are often action games or competitive games and sometimes racing games.

Much of this comes from anxiety though. I find myself having trouble settling into certain sorts of experiences if I feel I won’t have the time to fully engage with them. BATTLETECH had been my weekday game up until last week, when I hit the Smithon mission and it’s looking like I should finally do it. And now, I refuse to play the game until I have a large enough expanse of time to know I will be able to complete it (with time for multiple retries). For whatever reason, my brain refuses to accept that I can just save and quit in the middle if life gets in the way, I need to have the time to wrap this up! Then it can finally be the weekday game I’ve been enjoying so much up to this point!

I feel that state of mind, time, and occasion play a huge part in the enjoyment of any game. In the 4 or so odd sessions I had with the Black Room, I found the game clicked with me much more the later in the evening it was while playing it during the afternoon/evening right after work felt like a much more clinical, less exciting experience. Knowing when to play The Black Room was an important part of getting the most out of the game. That might be the case for everyone, but I am fascinated with how much different the game felt at different times of the day.

Discussion Questions!

  • Does time of day or occasion play a role in the type of games you choose to play?
  • What are some of your favorite “Midnight Games?”
  • What sort of mental categories do you have for games and the occasions at when to play them?
  • Bonus Question (for the “sidebar” readers out there): How did you get your Nintendo Switch?


Yeah, this is a thing for me, but it is the opposite. Games like Black Room that are not highly polished, playercentric experiences are a morning thing for me. I enjoy them most during my first pot of coffee on days that I have off or don’t have to go into til 1. All other times I just end up playing Overwatch. The Overwatch time is really just me being in an interruptible state. I want to be available for my wife to start a conversation or get me to come do something with her. When approaching games like Black Room, I need to feel that I can concentrate and commit for two hours even if I don’t use that time.
And sometimes I play a ton of Battlefield 1 on the weekends.


Update: I’m writing about butterfly soup next. Time has not been my friend recently and when I have been playing games it’s been comfort games, so I don’t know when I’ll get to it, but hopefully soon.

Also, opportune time to say Fuck Steam