Game Maker’s Toolkit viewers broke records this month. GMTK Game Jam 2022 was a frenetic game-making weekend in July.
Game making marathon
marathon, where participants have 48 hours to make a game. The game’s theme was “Out of Control” this year. The jam had 18,000 participants and 5,477 games. Again,
Last year’s jam was smaller. Again, itch.io’s biggest jam. I believe this year’s online-only jam was the largest. That’s amazing—thanks to everyone who participated. I’d love to play every game, but that’s impossible. Instead, 143,000 people rated the games. I could play the top 100 “overall” games and choose 20 to highlight. These are my 20 favorite GMTK Game Jam 2022 games, in no particular order. First, Leko’s Restless Wing Syndrome.
The bird in this game flaps its small wings when the countdown at the top of the screen empties. You must position yourself correctly before the next flap. Designers repeatedly investigated the idea of having your jump button on a timer. Six games in the top 100 had this concept. The gliding makes Restless Wing Syndrome my favorite. Letting you float back down adds depth and variety to this simple motion. Especially when chaining flaps and glides mid-air. Leko takes the mechanic further by giving each level a distinct countdown speed and flap-refilling pick-ups. This refined game shows how controlling the genre’s main mechanic may enhance platforming. How about using that timer concept to music?
Laserwave, by Daniel Ambrits, is a dazzling, neon-dipped synth-wave wonder that will have you swinging your mouse like a DJ scratching a record. The song’s drum rhythm controls your small diamond spaceship: low notes rocket away from adversaries, while high notes laser them. This is fun because your ship pushes away from your cursor but shoots toward it, based on your mouse position. Because you usually push in one direction and shoot in the other, you’ll swing your mouse across the desk rhythmically to the music. It’s hard at first, but after you get the song’s beat, it’s wonderful. When you can kill two foes in a row as the song hits that double high note, oof. That’s the dream. This fast twin-stick shooter and rhythm game lets you experience the music. Game Fixer Kit 2022, for example, lets you rewire your controllers while a terrifying skeleton wrecks them. Geegaz’s A Key’s Path was greatest.
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This platformer looks harmless until you realize you can move the controls at the bottom of the screen into the level with the mouse. They become blocks you can jump on or utilize to halt fireballs. However, removing the button from the interface removes its accessibility. That enormous space bar key is a useful platform, but you can’t jump while it’s in the world. This creates a few problems where you must weigh the benefits of adding new features to the environment against the costs of restricting your options. It’s a beautiful idea with lots of potential, but it’s fiddly. A grid system or slowness could help. I’m delighted some smart designers used “control” to signify chaotic, frenzied, and uncontrolled events, even though most games in the jam used it to mean input controls.
Lethandralis’ strategy game Puffballs involves herding multicolored animals. When close together, these puffballs proliferate swiftly, turning a field into a city of fluffy orange blobs. The goal is to balance loneliness and overpopulation by strategically moving puffballs until the proper amount appears on screen. Keep that harmony for a few seconds and move on. The game soon adds puffballs with various roles. Some stages need you to raise the red population while culling the orange since the red one eats orange animals before multiplying. Once the ball starts rolling, it’s hard to halt with your limited influence. I’d want to see more balancing tweaks and more idea exploration. This game deserves recognition for its unique theme interpretation.
OS Boys’ Hellfiler is another wild, fun game. Hell involves lots of paperwork. You sign contracts before putting them in the out tray. Timer ticking. After that, you start throwing out spam and fake documents with typos. Hellfiler has a never-ending stack of forms to fill out, like the “Dyostopia Papers.” It’s just a goofy game, but I liked it. Next comes Fish Mug Games’ crazy Genre Hopper.
This WarioWare-style game is about genre switching. A platformer can randomly become a space shooter, Doom-style FPS, or Zelda-like action RPG. It’s clever that level design and opponent placement don’t alter between genres. As the game speeds up, this makes genre changes easier than expected. It’s a single-screen proof-of-concept with a few genres, but I can see it growing with time. The “involuntary shooter” pattern was another startling jam theme. Games where you continuously shoot a column of death or bullets and must properly position yourself to avoid collateral damage. Laser Team’s Laser Guy.
You play an extraterrestrial with an allergic reaction that shoots a devastating laser beam from his face. Thus, you must navigate to the infirmary without burning your coworkers. The chaotic twin-stick blaster is actually a puzzle game. It’s about avoiding damage by using level design and character patterns. Since you have the visibility cone, the game seems like reverse stealth. Destructible things elevate Laser Guy. Cabinets and desks burn in seconds, while metal lasts longer than wood. All clever.
Next: Lonebot has possessed you, which, based on the scores, won over most players. It’s a turn-based puzzle game about finding each level’s musical instrument. As the name implies, you don’t control your movements. The bottom bar tells when you can move and when the game will. This implies you must carefully plan your next move and anticipate where those automated motions will take you. Hopefully not off-level. This game is quite polished, and if it had a few more levels, you could buy it on Steam and not realize it was built in a weekend. Excellent.
EDNA is hidden and uncontrollable.
Edna: Out of Sight, Out of Control by kcaze and Varun Ramesh has a fascinating idea that is developed to a surprising level for a 48-hour jam game. The idea: You play as Edna, and if you see a pink arrow, you can control one of these small knights. They’re out of control after the sightline is severed. The devs deserve credit for letting you briefly manage the character when you lose influence. A little leniency enhances the game’s atmosphere. Anyway. This clever idea leads to challenges concerning positioning characters on pressure-sensitive buttons, utilizing characters as platforms to jump, and employing adjustable mirrors to improve sight lines. Once the game introduces chaining sightlines, the devs can create endless puzzles. I propose robot-themed tile-based puzzle games like Alice. and cell machines from the top 100. I want to discuss them all. One merits a top rank on this list.
I love IndieBurg’s Losing Control. Copy-and-paste is used in a puzzle game. You may highlight a group of tiles, click control-c, and then press control-v to paste them down, making a path for your tiny robot friend. Developers swiftly add new twists, like lava that spreads from tile to tile. You’ll discover that you can copy and paste the empty emptiness to create levels and stop the lava flow. Even though you only have a limited number of copy and pastes in each level (as you literally become “out of control”), the puzzles aren’t that hard. This is excellent for a 48-hour game and warrants additional research. A+. Okay. Another robot puzzler
Emergency Protocol by Tyrix and Haru features a little robot that moves freely on green tiles. Arrows at the bottom of the screen record your motions. After falling onto the gray tiles, you lose control and your recorded moves are repeated. To cross no man’s land securely, you must record a sequence of movements. It’s a simple concept that leads to ingenious puzzles that will stump you. One green tile can drive you crazy in this game. When do you succeed? Seeing your little robot companion automatically move across the screen and get to safety based on your properly set up commands is satisfying. Thinking-ahead games: Timelock,
marshall cannon This game is self-blame. Each level has several little rooms, and your actions in one area might occasionally be replayed in the next. In one chamber, your character may jump like a loon, but it’s dependant on your prior jump. Thus, the game requires forethought to solve one chamber in a way that simplifies the next. Smart design simplifies it. A clear chronology displays your activities being recorded and played back, so you can plan ahead and easily return to the previous room to re-record. Overall, this is a novel notion that quickly generates difficult problems with three actions. This concept is easily expandable. Crystal Ball Chaos,
Chaos at Lunch
Yogurt is a fun platformer with a unique concept. Your magic wand must smash these crystal balls to their plinths. They bounce off walls like Breakout balls. You’ll also need to smash skulls, which hurt you. In a game like this, you have to aim the ball and hit the goal, like in a golf game, while controlling a character. Mid-air thwacks and other techniques have plenty of area. This one was fun, and even if the crystal balls are out of control, you have so many ways to guide them to their target. Next.
Zachary Richman and friends’ tower defense game Two-Timin’ Towers solves the genre’s biggest issue: the boredom of watching your impregnable killing machine destroy adversaries. What’s the solution? To become a little mechanic on the battlefield and give the towers friendly fire. It turns the game into a bullet hell nightmare. The more robust your defenses, the more dangerous the battlefield becomes, giving the game dynamic complexity. Currency and health pickups are difficult when the screen is covered in ordinance. Midnight Monorail by Default Frogs offers a comparable deal.
This game involves drawing rails for trains to travel between tunnels. However, only stations created by crossing rails earn points. You’ll soon be at risk of trains colliding, so click on one to make it invisible for a moment to allow them pass. Like Two-Timin’ Towers, it’s tempting to make your train tracks as profitable as possible by adding infinite criss-crossing stations, but every crossing raises the probability of a collision and adds fires to put out. Soon, everything goes haywire. Players control these games. However, Two-Timin’ Towers’ ever-advancing foes aggressively encourage the player to press their luck.
Left-click to go.
In Vimlark’s Make the Way, how do you guide a character you can’t control? By placing boxes, platforms, and springs to build the level around them. Another common subject, this pattern often has trial and error and a disconnect between constructing the level and watching it play out. Make the Way tackles these issues by running everything in real time: you’ll often need to set a spring only when the character is in motion and can even pick up and place an object after the robot has used it. Though more about precision than problem solving, it makes the game feel rapid, furious, and responsive. I want a prize for finishing the level with fewer objects than the tool bar. Each level has a solution, however it seems good to finish a level in a different method. Deepnight’s Dumber Dwarves is a variation. This dungeon crawler involves defeating imps, dodging boss creatures, and collecting jewels, but your explorers aren’t under your control. You can only control them by feeding them or slapping them. It becomes a comic strategic game about herding cats and putting out fires. The dwarves’ clear and predictable AI routines—speech bubbles above their heads and arrows pointing to their destination—make it work. Mini Map, a puzzle game where you have a limited amount of chances to influence your explorer, came a close second. Shield Bearer, where you shield bash the hero to safety. Shooty Ballz, by Team Shevin, is a fun, addicting, and stylish twin-stick shooter. Premise: You’re concerned about protecting this green ball that gently bounces around the screen. Protecting it from yourself, since shooting it is the only way to break it. The game’s “control” gauge is continually decreasing, so you can’t just avoid hitting the ball. This happens at zero. You become a bullet hell boss monster and shoot bullets everywhere. It kills several adversaries but endangers your green pal. How do you manage? by eliminating red foes and collecting their yellow eggs, risking blasting the green ball. Red opponents increase if they touch, so kill them. If not picked up soon, the eggs hatch into new enemies. The developers extracted several intriguing ideas from a few simple parts. They all want you to play loose, fast, and recklessly with one eye on your bouncing green charge. I love it. Okay. What if you controlled your character but the universe was out of control, like Pink River? That’s perfect.
Kira and co.’s amazing Between a Clock and a Hard Place. When the globe spins in chunks every few seconds, this adorable, claustrophobic platformer becomes incredibly interesting. Up is down, left is left, and we’re soaring toward spikes. A Clock adds physics objects with normal gravity even when the level is spinning, which makes it even more enjoyable. This big pendulum always swings toward the bottom of the screen, so you may trap it between boxes, wait for the room to spin, and then you can depart. I enjoy the little sidescrolling Zelda dungeon. The game’s brief lifespan makes the most of this notion, but there’s room to expand. Okay. Another game. This topic was baited. Many developers want to make the character uncontrollable. possibly dragged by a crazed dog. or irresistibly drawn to gunfire. Your buttons occasionally malfunction. These games are in the top 100 because they’re fun, but you must be careful not to frustrate, bore, or make the player feel out of control. leaning into it.
Nasheik, system cleansing isn’t fun. As a stick with springs on both ends, you can only slowly rotate. Your character bounces around and escapes your control. I’ve finished the most frustrating game four times. Controlling this strange double-ended pogo stick and using it to complete the level is very satisfying. Every successful bounce is a triumph, and every failed bounce that sends you flying back through the level is amusing. Speed-run mastery is possible by learning the game’s physics and improving your level time. Mastering the pogo’s nightmare control scheme is like Snake Pass. Finished. All winners receive GMTK stuff. I’ll reply. Honorable mentions? Why not? These fairness-ranked games are only 100. So… Jukemeister merges Dark Souls kiting with “Superhot” stealth. One Last Game is a moving tale about wartime checkers. Chess Dungeon is a roguelike featuring difficult chess piece movement. Bonsai Fairy snips branches to create the perfect tree. Meta-adventure Press Ctrl is mind-bending. Pongeon combines Pong and dungeon crawling. Don’t! Heroes, a Paper Mario-inspired RPG, lets you shout “Don’t!” to your heroes’ suggestions. The Inefficient Deliveryman is a humorous box delivery game. itch.io now displays ranks for all 5,000 games.