Placid Plastic Duck Simulator is Game of the Year, Every Year


Thomas Black, Writer

Indie games are a unique, interesting breed in the larger video game world.

Amidst your HD, AAA games crafted by massive teams with sprawling worlds that go on to become crown jewels of the medium, like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, God of War 2018, and Bioshock Infinite, there are games like Celeste, Untitled Goose Game, Lobotomy Corporation, and Omori.

These are games that, in all likelihood, wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for indie developers. 

Celeste, for example, is a somber, tough-as-nails 2D pixel platformer about the protagonist, Madeline, trying to overcome her depression and anxiety.

Lobotomy Corporation is a French-fry-with-ice-cream-esque combination of a roguelike and a management simulator where you have to try and survive from Day 1 until Day 50, with a new creature for you to manage appearing every day. (It also has an amazing sequel you might’ve heard of it called Library of Ruina which I wrote a whole article about back in October pls read it thank u :)) 

On the complete opposite edge of the spectrum from those is Untitled Goose Game, which is an adventure game where you play as a goose and torment the people of an idyllic English town, as geese are known to do and are extensively documented as doing.

As you can surmise, no Indie game is equivalent to another. If you decided to pick out two Indie games at complete random, chances are slim to none that they would be even remotely alike. 

Card Shark and Steamworld Dig

Underhero and Tokyo Dark; 

A Short Hike and Dead or School; 

Hatoful Boyfriend and Iconoclasts

Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling and Needy Streamer Overload;

NONE of these games are even slightly similar. These games are incredibly unique, to the point where many of them’d be nigh unfathomable for any AAA developer to make. 

There’s no way that a AAA developer would decide to greenlight a comedic visual novel where you romance pngs of pigeons like Hatoful Boyfriend, a surreal horror-rpg about a child overcoming their trauma like Omori, or a lengthy, callous (both in gameplay and story) deckbuilder about inviting desperate people to your murder library so you can turn them into books via homicide like Library of Ruina. They’d likely funnel their resources to other projects that are safer, and more likely going to bring returns. 

Take A Short Hike for example. It’s a chill, brief game about taking a short hike. The game clocks in at the low time of 1 ½ hours to complete, according to A game like this just, straight-up, would not exist if a large company were behind the wheel.

I bring this up, as this applies severalfold to the subject of this article: the ultimate high-tech rubber duck simulation developed by Italy-based indie developer Turbolento Games: Placid Plastic Duck Simulator.

In Placid Plastic Duck Simulator, you watch rubber ducks float around in a pool with very little input from you.

The pool is separated into two parts; a large, rectangular pool that the ducks spawn in, and a smaller, round pool. These two pools are connected via a slide and a chute: the slide leading from the larger pool to the smaller one, and the chute doing the inverse.

If a duck floats to the slide, they will slide down it, which is very adorable if you ask me, and end up in the smaller pool. Performs exactly as advertised!

The chute is a bit more aggressive: if a duck drifts over to it, the chute will suck them up and violently hurl them into the larger pool, where they usually slam into the pool wall or other ducks at max velocity.

Thank God these ducks are made of rubber.

Speaking of the rubber ducks themselves, you start off Placid Plastic Duck Simulator with only one duck, a simple yellow one, but it’s not long until it’s joined by many others. 

In the corner of the screen is a duck-shaped meter that fills over the course of 5 or so minutes. Once it’s full, a random duck from the game’s massive roster spawns. They could be a panda duck, or a duck with sunglasses, or a fire-breathing dragon duck, or if you have the Ducks, Please DLC, a disco ball duck, a duck with an egg on its head, or an Ebenezer Scrooge duck. 

These examples are only a fraction of the actual total number of ducks in the game. There are plenty more, like firefighter duck, planter pot duck, big-headed duck, metallic duck, polka-dotted duck, wooden duck, marble duck, propeller hat duck, and a plethora of others. 

Some of these ducks also have special properties!

Disco ball duck, for example, lights up when it becomes nighttime (because yes, Placid Plastic Duck Simulator has a day-night cycle. Take that, Mario Party 10!).

Magnetic ducks of opposite polarity will get stuck together. If I can be candid here for a moment, this explains magnets in a way simpler, much less confusing way than my elementary school class did. For literal YEARS I didn’t understand how magnets worked because the teacher who initially taught me about it didn’t explain it well AT ALL. 

In conclusion, magnetic ducks > The American School System.

Propeller hat duck and submarine duck both move: propeller hat vertical and submarine horizontal. Sadly, this usually results in them jettisoning themselves out into the ocean, never to be seen again. R.I.P. 🙁

If the fire-breathing dragon duck spews fire on a flammable duck, like the wooden or the cloth one, they’ll be set ablaze. Should this happen, the firefighter duck can hose them down to put out the fire.

My favorite duck property is that of stone and marble duck; they just sink. They literally do nothing else but drop into the large pool and become submerged, and that’s absolutely amazing.

Admittedly, the ducks with special properties are the minority. Most of the ducks in Placid Plastic Duck Simulator just have cool patterns and do nothing other than float around, even with the advent of the Ducks, Please DLC that does add many more ducks with special properties. However, I would argue that that doesn’t make the game worse in any way, shape, or form. Honestly, I think it makes the game better, all things considered.

Having the unique ducks diluted by more normal ones makes it more impactful when ducks with special properties do appear and their special properties take effect. If every single duck had a special property that grabbed your attention, none of them would be particularly unique. A quote you may have heard that summarizes this expertly:

“… when everyone’s super, no one will be.” – Syndrome, the Incredibles (2004).

There’s more to Placid Plastic Duck Simulator than just the ducks themselves, though. There are also random events that can occur, like planes, cruise ships, or a paddling of rubber ducks passing by.

But there is one thing I haven’t mentioned yet. The single entity that poses a threat to the ducks’ peaceful, aimless floating. The most antagonistic force in Placid Plastic Duck Simulator:

The inflatable flamingo pool toy.

Its dastardly motivations drive it to invade the larger pool, often entrapping an innocent, unsuspecting duck. The imprisoned duck likely won’t be able to escape the flamingo’s trap and will be stuck there until you reload the game. How evil!

Just look at this dastardly villain. It’s so smug and proud of its crimes! It even kidnapped this poor woman!

If it wasn’t plainly apparent, Placid Plastic Duck Simulator is not a particularly involved game. You’re really just watching rubber ducks float around without any rhyme or reason, and a lot of the fun comes from what your mind conjures up.

Yet, despite what you might initially think given that assessment, the game is incredibly captivating. Watching your ducks just bump into each other and absentmindedly drift on the water, with new ducks joining the pool periodically, is just . . .  mesmerizingly relaxing. That’s really the perfect way to describe it. 

But I must reiterate: this game would not exist if it weren’t made by an indie developer. There’s not even a ghost of a chance that a big AAA developer like Square Enix or Bandai Namco would spend precious time and resources on developing a game where you just watch rubber ducks float around.

And therein lies the crux of this: the sheer beauty of the indie game: the power to bring to life games that wouldn’t come to fruition were they being made by a mainstream developer.

Indie darlings like Doki Doki Literature Club!, The Binding of Isaac, and Among Us wouldn’t exist in quite the forms they have now were it not for them being made by small teams of passionate people, unrestrained by having a large corporation overseeing the project. They would likely be shaved down in their sheer uniqueness, potential darkness, and their creative identity, in pursuit of making the game more palatable for wider audiences.

This isn’t to say that non-indie games are intrinsically not unique, dark, and creative, or are always deliberately diluted, not at all. Games like Gravity Rush, Nier, and Super Mario Odyssey by Japan Studio, Square Enix, and Nintendo prove that AAA games can be truly one-of-a-kind, exceedingly depressing, and bombastically original.

On the flipside, this isn’t to say that all indie games are creative, original masterworks, either. Take Gleamlight, for example. It’s a lifeless, passionless clone of the beloved Indie game Hollow Knight, with nothing genuinely good about it besides the title screen, which is, admittedly, very pretty. It’s clunky to play, it lacks polish in every area, is painfully short, and is all-around lazy. 

It’s just that indie developers, more often than not, have more wiggle room to flesh out games with weirder concepts than AAA developers, which is what breeds games like Placid Plastic Duck Simulator.

It’s for this reason that I implore you to check out Placid Plastic Duck Simulator if you have the means; it’s an experience truly unlike any other and it’s quite literally dirt cheap. It’s only about $2.00-4.00 on Steam, depending on whether or not you invest in the Ducks, Please DLC. What do you really have to lose?


















You thought this article was over, didn’t you? You thought Placid Plastic Duck Simulator’s story was finished. You thought it was wrapped up. Concluded. Completed. Done.

You ignorant fool. You utter ignoramus. Placid Plastic Duck Simulator is an enigma, and it doesn’t abide by any rules, laws, or beliefs other than its own.

As it turns out, literally while this article was being written, Turbulento Games released a new DLC for Placid Plastic Duck Simulator: Quack in the Ice! Like Ducks, Please, it costs $1.99 standalone on Steam, but–unlike Ducks, PleaseQuack in the Ice doesn’t just give you new ducks for your pool. 

It also gives you a completely new pool for your ducks to swim around in, located in a wintry mountainscape.

Similar to the base game’s pool, Quack in the Ice’s pool is split into two parts: a larger upper section and a smaller lower segment, with mechanisms linking them together. However, there are some notable differences.

The larger pool is like a juiced-up version of the one in the base game–a steady pool that stretches from the inside of a cozy, festive, firelit home, out to the snow-covered mountainside, where there are pine trees in abundance, and where the mountains therein pierce the horizon. The new pool is partially indoors and partially open-air simultaneously, which is pretty cool, gotta say.

Cooler is the lower pool, because it’s actually not a pool at all. It’s an ice rink, home to hockey goals, a miniature ice resurfacer, and a massive primordial duck frozen beneath the frigid surface, suspended, surely awaiting the day when this frozen prison melts away. 

And instead of swimming around, the ducks slide around like cute, squeezable hockey pucks and knock into each other. Cute!

The way your ducks get from the open-air pool to the ice rink is reminiscent of the way ducks got to the lower pool in the base game; it’s a slide. But instead of a short, curved slide, it’s a spiraling one that goes downwards a few feet.

However, the way ducks get transported to the upper pool from the lower rink is much, MUCH cooler than some slide. 

Whereas the base game had the chute that violently launches the ducks, Quack in the Ice has an adorable ski lift that gently takes them up back to the upper pool. I can’t take how wholesome it is.

The new pool is great. Compared to the base game’s pool, the atmosphere in Quack in the Ice is completely different. It makes me just want to bundle up in copious amounts of blankets and drink hot cocoa. It’s nice, even despite the lack of the looming darkness that was the inflatable flamingo pool toy. 

The closest thing is probably the miniature ice resurfacer, but it’s more adorably evil, in the same vein as a mischievous cat knocking over pots who you just want to snuggle or Invader Zim, bordering on sweetness, rather than being an echo of the unquestionably depraved, malevolent wickedness that the inflatable flamingo pool toy possessed.

Speaking of possession, or rather, possessions: the new ducks you can get!

To reiterate, Quack in the Ice, as DLC, primarily focused on the introducktion of a brand-new pool, so Turbulento Games didn’t have the time to hand-craft nearly as many ducks as they did for the base game or Ducks, Please. So there aren’t 30+ new ducks to add to your collection; the number is closer to a third of that.

Most of the DLC’s ducks are holiday-related, like the Santa duck, Elf (2003) featuring Will Ferrel duck, Christmas ornament duck, and reindeer duck, or are in some way related to the wintry, outdoorsy aesthetic of the new pool, like the lumberjack, whiskey-holding Saint Bernard, and skier ducks.

The main one that stood out to me was that last one, the skiing duck, because it’s the only duck in the game, so far anyway, whose arrival is more visually interesting than just . . . appearing after being summoned by the duck gauge.

In the new pool, you can find him stuck in the Christmas light-adorned tree above the open-air section, encased in ice.

Eventually, he’ll succumb to gravity’s pull, fall, and join the rest of the ducks in their aimless floating, albeit still frozen. Though, unlike the primordial duck, the skiing duck can be freed from his chilly encasement: If the fire-breathing dragon duck sets the nearby logs ablaze, the heat from it will gradually thaw him out. 

Unfortunately, that’s the only special property duck/special duck interaction introduced in the Quack in the Ice DLC. It is a bit disappointing, but we’re being plenty spoiled already, with having a completely new pool and all, so whining about it is both tacky and complaining just to complain.

However, all of this, the new pool, the cozy, cool atmosphere, and the new ducks, all of them pale in comparison to the unquestionably best part of Quack in the Ice:


Yes, should the Propeller Hat Duck fly off into the distance, you can find him at a little campsite having a gay old time, just enjoying life and roasting a marshmallow by switching your POV with the E key.

Game of the year. Nay, game of eternity.