Mateusz Skutnik is one of the most well-known celebrities of the Polish browser games scene, who is known to comics lovers as the creator of Rewolucje (editor’s translation: Revolutions) and the Blaki series. So far, longest game series he created had 10 parts (and several additional parts) Submachine took him a whole decade to create (2005 to 2015). It started as a simple story about an escape from a mysterious building full of strange machines. Each part of the simple structure added storeys – each escape would lead to even more complex, unsettling and puzzling spaces. The worlds of Submachine are uninhabited – one the only traces of human activity are the notes found during gameplay, which build a fragmentary plot. The trademark of the series is the soundtrack: its minimalist but builds a sense of melancholic mystery.
Skutnik’s second important series of games is called Daymare Town. It has a gloomy and mysterious air in common with Submachine, although the drawings are radically different – Submachine was mostly made up of regular geometric forms, while the graphics in Daymare Town are composed of expressive black and white sketches, more similar to Skutnik’s comics. The town in the game isn’t uninhabited – its sorrowful citizens nestle in dark nooks under the stairs, look through door cracks and flee when they hear our hero’s footsteps. The air of melancholy and loneliness is much more intense than it is in Submachine.
In 2008, Skutnik formed an adventure browser games company Pastel Games with another comic book creator, Karol Kanwerski. Their work proved quite successful. Covert Front, their most popular game, is set in the alternative history of World War I (Konwerski wrote the plot, Skutnik worked on the graphics). Maciej Pałka (also a comic book artist) created two artistically-captivating series for Pastel Games: Morbid and The Fog Fall.
For the Rudowski brothers, Pastel Games was their starting point in the world of browser games. In 2009, Marek Rudowski (an illustrator responsible for several series of the comic book Dom Żałoby – editor’s translation: The House of Mourning) started work on a traditional adventure game based on a fabulous world of his creation. The Trader of Stories was never finished, but Pastel Games commissioned Rudowski to develop a browser game set in the same universe. This way we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to play Bell’s Heart, a game combining beautiful comic-style graphics (somewhat resembling Régis Loisel’s works) and the air of a romantic ballad.
In 2011, Marek and Marcin Rudowski published a second part of the game – A Grain of Truth. It’s a more ambitious story, where imagination runs wild. In one of the first locations, our hero, a travelling story-collector meets craftsmen that create pillows out of clouds. The poetic, fable-like air is also apparent in the second part of the series, Trader of Stories: Chapter One (2017), which takes place in a forest inhabited by thinking trees.
The past, the future
There are many other Polish browser game creators. For example, Scriptwelder is noteworthy – the fourth part of his popular series Don’t Escape (played outside the browser) was recently awarded at both the Digital Dragons and the Pixel Heaven festivals. Agata Nawrot, an illustrator, created her first game, Karambola – a metaphoric, visually-sophisticated story about depression. Alek Wasilewski, the animator renowned for his short film Lucky Day Forever also started his career with browser games and is now working with OhNoo Studios on developing Tsioque – a game fully animated by hand.
Originally written in Polish, Jun 2017, translated by AP, 19 Jul 2017