Eskommando does what South Africans do best — not take ourselves too seriously regardless of how difficult a challenge we face.
Developed as a passion project by Scrolla.Africa CTO David Venter, Eskommando is a browser-based pixel art endless runner game where you play as President Cyril Ramaphosa trying to stave off load-shedding.
You’re forever running in one direction, desperately trying to collect enough solar energy to keep the lights on, where one mistake will see you fall down or plunge the country into darkness.
Or it’s just a game where you jump between buildings and try to hit little suns while dodging little red lightning bolts without falling down a hole.
Venter built Eskommando in the Construct game engine, and it runs in-browser on any platform.
It features pretty good pixel art, complete with a power station scrolling in parallax behind the buildings your Ramaphosa avatar jumps between.
The game is also a clever experiment in product placement for Scrolla, with the game encouraging players to pick up a Gizzu battery that randomly drops from the sky. There’s also a Gizzu billboard right at the start of the map.
Scrolla is a mobile-only news platform, and executive director Toby Shapshak told MyBroadband their stories are told using only smartphones.
“Our reporters use them to capture images, video, and voices,” Shapshak said.
Eskommando joins a handful of other load-shedding-themed games made by South African developers over the years.
- Loadshedding by Logan Neyt, 2018, is a basic management game where you must supply power to as many homes, businesses and factories as possible without collapsing the grid.
- DEDstress by 3StrakGames, 2020, is a first-person action horror/thriller where you play a man who was diagnosed with Disconnected Electricity Disorder (DED) after being traumatised by constant power outages and must escape a mental hospital.
- Power Play, 2023, by Vetkoek Studios, is an in-development platformer adventure game where you navigate the dark towers of a city destroyed by load-shedding.