That Night, Steeped By Blood River is one of the most interesting-looking games I can remember. This surrealist exploration game has an aesthetic so unique that I’m convinced I’ll dream like it tonight, and as such am somewhat put off going to sleep.
Created by Taylor Swietanski, TNSBBR is on one level a fairly standard first-person puzzle game. You need to explore its various buildings, solve pattern-based puzzles, and collect objects. On another level, it’s a mindfuck like nothing else.
What captures me most is that I just cannot figure out how to describe it to you. Having written about games for over 20 years, I’ve gotten quite used to the sentences forming in my head while I’m playing, descriptions coming together before my fingers have reached the keyboard. Oftentimes it’s more like transcribing the text in my head by the time I come to reviewing. But not here. I got as far as the end of the last sentence, and now I’m floating loose.
In some ways it reminded me of those most ambitious polygon-drawn games of the mid-1980s, most especially The Sentinel, but that’s not quite right. I also kept thinking about those trippy illustrative graphics you see in clips from scientific programs of the 1970s. It’s blurry, indistinct, constantly shifting in colors and design, sometimes as you walk through a room. There’s something particularly unsettling about the impermanence of its locations, how walking through a doorway will not necessarily take you into the room it appears to offer, and how outside and inside appear to be indeterminate and optional.
And I absolutely loved it. It has an excellent soundtrack, which is equally disorientating and fluid, a peculiar obsession with having you sign in before you’re allowed in places, and, well, this reply from the developer on the game’s Itch.io page.
there are no “better graphics”.
As with so much on Itch, the game is free to download, but you can (and really should) pay as much as you think it’s worth.
Have some more screenshots: