I moved house over the weekend, and, since I hadn't done this sort of thing in a while, I was immediately struck by how weird and unsettling it is, even if you're fortunate enough, like me, to be deciding when to move and where to move. Anyway, it is disconcerting: I wake up in a familiar bed in a strange room, I don't know where anything is and I keep bumping my head on stuff. I don't know where the light switches are, where the breakers are, so when I do something stupid and plunge the whole place into darkness, I don't know how to fix it. I went out for milk yesterday and I got lost for, like, 15 minutes on the way back.
Anyway, all of these strange sensations put me in mind of something that, at first, I couldn't quite put my finger on. I had played this, right? This tentative kind of feeling, blending exploration and accident, where progress feels subtle and points of certainty tend to be hard-won. I looked through Steam for a while, and then it came to me: 1000 Amps.
Despite returning to 1000 Amps every few years, I have no idea what the story or the context is. So forgive me, but you appear to play this game as a stylised energy-saving lightbulb. Your job is to move around 2D environments, one room at a time, and build up a sense of the place. Crucially, though, the rooms you explore are unlit at first and cannot be seen. Like Michael Jackson in that video, you light them up by moving over tiles, revealing the hidden geometry as you go. This geometry is liable to fade, however, if you leave the room incomplete. Instead, to fix it permanently in space you have to trigger all the special node blocks that light up extra bright.
Cue complications: one-way escalators, doors you can't pass back through, rooms that have to be entered from a specific angle. That's all just the first few minutes. Specific moments in 1000 Amps are ingenious, but in truth the whole thing is so ingenious, the lighting-up conceit so enormously compelling, that it is hard to recall singular incidents of cleverness as a session starts to fade away behind you.
At times I am put in mind of Chip's Challenge - the puzzles seem sympathetic and there is a sense of something very complex being delivered across wonderfully compact stages. I'm also put in mind of Jet Set Willy, and we're back to moving house again: the unheimlich home, its rooms not yet committed to memory, the quiet sense that something, somewhere, is slightly off...