Perhaps it’s a testament to the talent behind Sluggish Morss: A Delicate Time In History in that the sci-fi world they’ve created, although completely alienating and seemingly surreal, is able to hold your attention and capably provide you with intrigue, curiosity and fear. This game and its developers are, for me, a comfort as it provides evidence that the freeware games scene is still thriving and chock full of crazy ideas that those with odd passions are obliged to play through. In this case, it is Jack-King Spooner and Jake Clover that act as our servants, though it is us who bow to them in truth. All of these free and bizarre games emerge during an era that Cactusquid himself lamented due to the scene apparently dying. In actuality, merely a passing of the torch has occurred as he and others moved on to commercial projects (Hotline Miami) while new, exciting developers rose up to fill the gap.
“Space will consume us all”
And so it is with insistence that I tell you to try out Sluggish Morss: A Delicate Time In History just to see what games can be and where they can go with enough creativity and imagination. Ideally, you should have played Jack’s other games by now, especially Will You Ever Return?, but if you haven’t, then stick with this one as it’s a more finely-tuned and concise entry into his thoughts and nightmares.
I’d love to tell you what Sluggish Morss: A Delicate Time In History is all about, but I wouldn’t be able to, and the act of attempting to do so would be missing the point. It’s a game that you’re supposed to experience and interpret as you like. Speaking to IndieGraph, Jack reveals that his collaboration with Jake Clover is intended to be one of many:
“We are attempting to make a game or two (or more) that have a conversation between them, based on similar themes or something.”
So perhaps it’s the case that Sluggish Morss will make some more sense once we’ve had a chance to play the other games it will apparently converse with. I doubt it, though. [UPDATE: Jack informs me that another part is already available - download Sluggish Morss here] In short, it’s a game set within a very strange sci-fi setting in which you play as a being that receives premonitions that later come true. The Superbabies are attempting to control your power and use you to achieve…something. It seems that what you’ve done is open up the id – the repressed part of our human psyche – somehow. And that’s about as far as I get before my brain dissipates through my ears.
What’s important is not the details and logic of the game, but how it comes together and taps into the mind. You explore dreamscapes with hollow silhouettes that ask questions and act without reason. Sights include collages made of photos and video rendered with effects that only a drug-induced mind would see. The music is intentionally moody and sometimes creepy. And the focus on the grotesque is always present, whether it be through huge teeth with digital scurvy, nonsensical dialogue or choppy images that seem to pose a threat.
You’re best off playing Sluggish Morss, as should be apparent from my confused jibbering, but there’s some gameplay below that will give you an idea of what to expect. Probably.