This game looks like Van Gogh’s Game Boy Advance

This game looks like Van Gogh’s Game Boy Advance

a digital, pixelated painting of a house with red flowers in front of it
Image: Julián Palacios

And check out Sword of Symphony, where your attacks command an orchestra

The recent wave of news coming from large gaming companies has me feeling even more appreciative that I get to write this column. It’s just nice to highlight the inventive work of people who aren’t, ya know, a giant corporation being sued by a state in a giant sex discrimination lawsuit. To this end, I picked out Fostering Apocalypse, a survival game part of the Shorter Games With Worse Graphics bundle. It’s a sale to benefit developers so they can — you got it — make worse games for more money. Hell yeah!

We have Fostering Apocalypse and much more in Cool WIP, Polygon’s weekly roundup of eye-catching clips and screenshots of works in progress. Each week, the Polygon staff scours the internet for the coolest up-and-coming projects, before they’re ready for launch.

This week’s games are particularly gorgeous. One features an infinite corridor with thousands of pillars. Another is a black-and-white photography game with a hand-drawn style. There’s also a hidden object game where you explore paintings from artists like Van Gogh. And finally, we’ll see a musically talented swordfighter.

Let’s play some shorter games with worse graphics

Incisor Studios made a survival narrative game called Fostering Apocalypse. And while I know this is on a list of games that are supposed to have “worse” graphics, its stylized MS Paint quality, combined with the darker horror elements, really drew me in. The game takes place in a world that’s fallen to a demon apocalypse. Screenshots from the game’s store page show snippets of its hellish landscapes, and honestly, that feels appropriate these days. You can grab the game now on, or check out the full list of games in this quirky bundle.

A living painting

Lots of games recreate a hand-painted look, but what I appreciate about Cuccchi was how it put a pixelated flair on well-known artwork. It’s as if you tried to render popular paintings on a Game Boy Advance, rather than do a one-to-one recreation of them. Developed by Julián Palacios, Cuccchi is a hidden object game that promises “maze-like” gameplay. The art is inspired by the works of Italian painter Enzo Cucchi and features a variety of art styles. You can grab it on now.

An endless corridor

This clip is from a game called Black Somnia. The developer behind it, Sleepdiver, shared that it was once a first-person shooter, until they changed genres in mid-development and turned it into a cinematic platformer. This clip shows a small character running across a gothic-inspired bridge with a glowing orange sky. And while I can’t imagine it as a shooter, it sure looks captivating as it is. There’s no release date for the game yet, but you can keep up on the game’s Twitter page.

Musically driven attacks

This early stage-development game pulls off a neat trick: It plays music in time with the slashes of the protagonist’s sword. As the character chains attacks, more instruments chime in. Keep swinging and you’ll be treated to piano flourishes and a blazing brass section. The soundtrack — and how it harmonizes with the sword — is nothing short of impressive. What’s more impressive is one person, Stephen Ddungu, is responsible for nearly all of the development here. The aptly named Sword of Symphony doesn’t have a release date but you can learn more about it on the game’s website.

A charming black-and-white photography game

Usually, color composition is a huge part of photography. However, Toem takes that away and instead has its players taking more old-school black-and-white photos. A recent GIF from the team showed off something fun — a tripod! The little shark-like protagonist is able to set it up and capture themself inside a photograph whenever they want. Toem is developed by Something We Made, which plans to release the game later this year.