Spinch is a spiralling marriage of psychedelia, precision and rhythm

EGX is here! This time it’s in the rather unique form of PAX Online x EGX Digital, but we’re still covering it like usual.

That means we’ll be running a few short articles like this throughout the week, featuring our impressions from some of the most interesting, unique, or just personal favourite games we’ve tried from the show floor (yes, there’s a show floor!).

There’s a strange familiarity to the art of Spinch, a twisting, mesmerizing little indie platformer. It reminds me of people I know and knew, and their phenomenal but often wasted, underused, or underappreciated talent. It reminds me of drawn curtains, musty dark-green sofas, neon yellow lighters and early era Spotify ads at four in the morning. It reminds me of YouTube binges, of university, and before that college. It reminds me of friends, basically, fictional and real, and the kind of art they’d make as they spiralled in and out of the highs and lows of their life.

Spinch has a sensational sense of vibe. It’s a simple, almost rudimentary platformer at its core: you can run, jump, and dash, and you have that kind of sticky grippiness to walls when you hit them mid air, and that’s kind of it. It’s incredibly close to classic Mario Bros. games, precise, frantic and agile, with a little overworld and levels called 1-1 and a boss at the end of each section. Where it differs is style, opting for literal psychedelia over the sort of implied, psychedelic-adjacency of Mario and the gang.

You play as a Spinch – or maybe your name is actually Spinch; not sure, doesn’t matter – and you hop and skip through this game collecting your offspring and your cousins, while avoiding colours, swirling and pulsing arcs of danger, wherever you find them. The backgrounds are weird, the sounds are weird, the enemies are weird. It’s the kind of mutating, excessive vibrancy and creativity that you find in the latter half of the ’90s, in cartoons like Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Cow and Chicken, and Ren and Stimpy – but maybe if you dropped the TV and got stuck with the contrast up too high.

It all pulls together with sound. Jesse Jacobs’ art and James Kirkpatrick’s music merge in rhythm and sync, alongside the movements, even, of enemies that you set in motion yourself. Play for a few minutes and you’re in, engulfed in the choral, symphonic, rainbow swells of colour and beat and challenge. It’s a wonderful little thing, nostalgic and novel, simple but vivid. Art from artists.