Ludum Dare, one of the best-known game jams, just wrapped up its 32nd competition on the theme of “An Unconventional Weapon,” with almost 3,000 entries. Competitors only had 72 hours to whip up a game on the theme, giving new and experienced developers the pressure, theme, and platform necessary to create and showcase their work to a huge audience of game developers and game fans.
As the longest running and largest online game jam, Ludum Dare attracts a huge variety of games to play—playing them all would be nearly impossible. All these games are available for free, and don’t forget to vote; judging is open to participants and game fans alike through May 11.
Here are a few games to check out to get you started:
EDDA Lets You Compose Ancient Poetry
If you’re familiar with Beowulf, EDDA might ring some bells. This game’s take on the “Unconventional Weapon” theme lets players use poetry as a weapon, pitting one Old Norse poet against another in a mead hall poetry slam. It might seem difficult to understand what the audience wants at first, but playing around with sound and rhythm in combination with gauging the audience reaction (along with a little trivia knowledge about Old Norse poetry) will soon have you on your way to becoming champion of the EDDA poetry slam.
The game features beautiful pixel art and a low-key, soothing soundtrack and plays something like mythological Mad Libs. While the effect can sometimes be nonsensical in terms of the poetry you produce, there’s also some beautiful language possible through combining EDDA‘s blank sentences with the word bank. The word bank is small, making repeated playthroughs a little less interesting as you repeat lines, but that’s to be expected from a Ludum Dare game. Small as it is, EDDA is still an amazing and inventive Ludum Dare entry.
An Unconventional Error Plays With Programming
For those unfamiliar with using terminals or playing old-school text adventures, An Unconventional Error might be a little difficult to grasp. But once you get past the novelty of playing a game through commands like ‘help,’ it becomes clear that the game is a pretty brilliant take on the theme with a unique approach to gameplay. While EDDA and An Unconventional Error are both text-based, they couldn’t be more different in terms of tone, showing the diversity Ludum Dare can inspire.
An Unconventional Error is simplistic in terms of gameplay and doesn’t have much going for it graphically, but that makes sense in the context of the game. It also features multiple endings, encouraging players to keep digging even as the situation seems like a lost cause.
Make Beautiful Music in Dischord
Dischord is a beautiful mix of a puzzle game and fighting game that uses music to explode the multicolored jellies that are your enemies. It’s an exceedingly polished game to have been whipped up in only 72 hours, featuring several opponents and excellent sound design. It’s also not as easy as it might have you suspect—the game is fast-paced and tricky once you start learning multiple combinations to defeat the enemies. It’s cute in both idea and execution, and a fun little test of memory not unlike games like Simon. While it’s not the kind of game to suck you in with story, Dischord is a fun and entertaining little game that’s perfect for passing a lunch break or afternoon.
Mable: The Journey Makes a Conventional Weapon New Again
Swords are classic weapons in video games, but Mable: The Journey uses them in a whole new way. Rather than hacking and slashing your way through enemies, this game has you dropping your sword on the ground and recalling it to you magically, chopping down anything that stands between you and your weapon. It’s tricky to execute, but rarely do games make us totally rethink the way we use a weapon. To top it off, the game features gorgeous pixel art, making it stunning visually as well as from a gameplay standpoint. It’s addictive and fun, and juggling between killing enemies with the sword, avoiding being attacked, and not draining the forest of color by using your faerie form make Mable: The Journey a tricky and highly inventive Ludum Dare entry.
Velo-City Is A Fast-Paced Thrill Ride
Though Velo-City isn’t the first game with killer music on this list, it uses sound in an entirely new way. The player controls a small aircraft that looks like a paper airplane, weaving in and out of the blocks and shapes that appear to block their way. The city in this game throbs with the bassline, with more beats thumping as the obstacles get more plentiful and harder to dodge.
Though it’s a bit light on theme—the developers say that the unconventional weapon is the fact that the game lacks a weapon at all—it’s an absolute blast to play and the music really gets your heart pumping as you race through the city for a high score. It’s a simple concept executed very well, making it the essence of a successful game jam game.