This free game about shaking hands is a perfect dose of silly surrealism

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If you’ve forgotten during the pandemic times what it’s like to shake hands in the real world, this weird free game will not help you remember. It is a handshake in its purest form: two five-fingered skin spatulas yearning for one another in an empty void, draging their suit humans along behind them until they meet with a meat slap. A Firm Handshake is quick, tiny, and I laughed out loud at it. You should give it a try.

A Firm Handshake has several “levels” which are each just little handshake scenarios. I’m only going to tell you about the first two, because being surprised by each one after that myself was part of the joy. Your first handshake is a practice. Walk towards another business suit person with the indicated keys. As you get closer, your hand automatically reaches out for theirs, and theirs for yours. They slap together with a nice little smack. Well done.

The second handshake is sillier. You begin as a single business person. Each other business person whose hand you shake will join your little business train until you’ve turned into a business snake. Your posse of suits shuffle along behind you until you’re a winding line, creating a thunderous clip clop cacophony everywhere you go.

It’s so grand and goofy. I enjoy the way your little business people walk around led by their torsos as their feet sometimes struggle to keep up. I adore how their little hands reach for one another as you get closer. I spent quite a bit of time doing driveby handshakes, watching the other little business folk reach out to me as if begging me to save them from the mustard void. I giggled at each new stage and its surprises to the standard handshake setup.

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Look at this very bad handshake I concocted while teasing this poor business person by leading my suit snake past them over and over again.

This handshake was performed by business professionals and should not be attempted at home.

A Firm Handshake is brought to you by Torfi Ásgeirsson (credited simply as Torfi), level designer from that equally odd and interesting squirrel surveilance game Nuts. RPS has a Nuts review, if you’re curious about that.

Torfi repurposed some of the sound design from that project for this handshake ’em up. “All of the good sound design was made by [Almut Schwacke] for Nuts and I just borrowed it for this. The bad sound design is by me,” Torfi says. I’m no audio expert, so I can’t tell the good from bad, but the credits sequence includes a piano track, which I think is nice. Also the clip clop footsteps are good.

A Firm Handshake is a small free game that you can find and play over on Itch. It took me about ten minutes to play, but you can probably do it in five if you aren’t goofing around like I was. I recommend goofing though.

As the American in the room, I’m suddenly gripped with a fear that I’ve managed to accidentally include some weird UK slang that I don’t know about in here. Please don’t tell me if skin spatula or suit snake are euphemisms. The Google Image results for both were not immediately damning, so in they stay.

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