A Magical Maze Race: Imbroglio

If you like playing games, you should know about Michael Brough.

He makes bizarre games that question what games are. They’re difficult to play yet captivating, engrossing in their oddity. Take Corrypt where you play as a purple person in a glitched world where parts of the screen start to disappear the more that you unlock. It’s one of the most complicated yet simple story based puzzle games which accomplishes so much by saying almost nothing. 868-HACK is a spiritual, stylistic cousin to the game where you play as a smiley face inside a computer or telephone line who must continue through a program while dodging noisy viruses and the like, summoning specials placed on the ground to survive. Helix does the same but operates as a cat-and-mouse speed run in one frame.

These are simple games with unapproachable nuance that, if given the time, reveal their brilliance.

His newest game is more of the same. Imbroglio is a similar looping maze to 868-HACK where you must continue on fighting demons and monsters as long as you can in order to unlock specials that will help you play better. The style is Brough at his most approachable—cartoonish instead of pixelated—and the gameplay feels similar too. It’s very easy to grasp and, while not a crossover attempt, retains his clever mind for crafting things to play.

What makes this different is that the game, like the title, is something that you have to unlock. The word “imbroglio” means “an extremely confused, complicated, or embarrassing situation.” That is befitting of basically everything Brough creates but here it feels particularly impactful as your job is to unlock a cascading series of more and more complicated matters. The characters you chose each have unique talents and specials as do the weapons outlined on the game floor as do the monsters who attack you. Confused? Yes—but give it a try.

It’s a fun $4 game and is an excellent entreé into Brough’s aesthetic and mind. If you’re looking for a simple mess to get into over Labor Day, you should give Imbroglio a try.

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