To be a stranger in a strange land is to walk down paths that seem familiar until they're not; to try to reach out to people only to have people either stare at your hand as though it were covered in slime or slap it away; to find that it's the little differences more than the big ones that bother you. Dejima is a one-person studio consisting of a French developer who lives and works in Japan, and it was his experiences as a foreigner there which led to the creation of Illumine, a roguelite in which the player is a strange symbol wandering through an impossible maze in search of knowledge and companionship.
Illumine's primary focus is on discovery rather than strategy or combat skills. The player carves away at the blackness of the walls to reveal rooms that could contain friendly letters of the alphabet, unfriendly ones, or books. Those books are what the player seeks. By gathering the knowledge contained therein, the player levels up, the color of the floor changes, and the things that spawn in the room change.
As someone who's lived abroad for a significant amount of time and even as someone who was an outcast in my youth, the metaphors behind the game's design come through very strongly for me. It's very easy to see the fact that most of the game's NPCs, hostile or or friendly, are roman alphabet letters while the player is Japanese, Greek, an @, or something else as a representation of the player character feeling alike, but not alike. The changes in background color and the corresponding increases in difficulty correlate well with growing more comfortable with a strange culture only to stumble over some new intricacy that you didn't even notice before because you were so wrapped up in getting past the initial obstacles.
It's a better fit of genre and subject matter than I expected. In hindsight, it seems like it should be obvious. One of the hallmarks of roguelikes and roguelites alike is the depth of systems that players must uncover and learn thr...