We Can Begin Again

Alexander Ocias

Here's a good game for those who have experienced abusive relationships or sit alone in the dark listening to the ending mantra of Antichrist Superstar with its "know when you are suffering... that I... have betrayed you" while contemplating a Shriek scenario. Loved does what indie games do best, take the platformer genre and then use it to weave an existential mind-fuck. The level design follows the similar series of incremental steps in difficulty, except this time the real difficulty derives from a series of choices you have to make regarding a voice's commands. Do you obey or disobey? When it tells you to do something sensible, will you obey that, or are you disobeying on principle? The actual platforming becomes a bit challenging at times but is nothing a veteran of the genre can't handle, the real challenge is in making sense of the thing.

The most interesting thing about this game is that the nature of reality is determined by your choices. Initially spikes are rendered as red squares, if you obey your "master" and jump on the "barbs" these abstract dangers become tangible threats after their reference. Of course, they kill you either way, there's no functional difference, more of a Sapir-Worph hypothesis in action. Likewise the save points remain draped in green (for "go") if you ignore the initial invitation to touch them. Hey, it's better than one of those goddamned step-by-step tutorials! I'd rather be told I'm a girl, disgusting, and so forth by a disembodied sociopath than made to click through your typical in-game tutorial.

The game keeps a tally of how much you obey and disobey and starts adding color and chaos to the underlying fabric proportional to your obedience. This can unlock an easter egg but I'm not sure if there's a way to get a third ending. The two implicit endings seem to involve either breaking away or staying with your abuser, who loved you deeply, you betraying, lying bitch. Surely, this should be a part of any introductory course on game design, as the dynamic between you and the voice implicitely reflects the dynamic between player and designer in all but the best games.


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what's this easter egg you

what's this easter egg you speak of?

We have a winner!

...if the universe was a bit more just and people were a little less sadly predictable, this game would have been the winner in Jennifer Ann Game Design Challenge (note: to the best of my knowledge, this game was not entered into the challenge). I'm referring here to the 99th's review of "A Decision of Paramount Importance" and the comments on that review.

It illustrates the consequences of staying with an abusive lover: the world becomes clearer (and gameplay a little easier) but everything becomes bleaker & creepier - reminds me a bit of Eversion.

On the other hand, disobeying makes the world more colorful and hopeful, but actually makes it harder to discern the game world: perhaps mimicing the disorientation of freedom after abuse.

I think it's just that

I think it's just that there's a different ending if you obey all of the commands.


If you disobey and the world breaks apart, then the left-wall after you drop down the spike-laced shaft will break down and you can pass through to find some item. I'm not sure of the significance.

This most definitely should have one the Jennifer Ann design contest, and it's gender neutral.

Unfortunately, what indie

Unfortunately, what indie games seem to do best is narrowing down gameplay to platforming.

I'd be more inclined to

I'd be more inclined to think indie games culture comes down to making an art house movie which may or may not have been interesting enough to watch just as a movie, then tacking on platforming to make up for the uninteresting part (or the authors perception it wouldn't have worked just as a movie).
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The movement and controls were frustrating. The break between gently nudging over and flying across the screen was too abrupt. I was fighitng the control mechanics too much to enjoy mystery of the red blocks: were they going to stay still or did I need to run from them?

Easter egg

Actually, you can find that easter egg even if you've followed every command up to that point. In fact, when I tried it, I *couldn't* get it if I'd disobeyed everything up until that point. Maybe you can disobey even more and then backtrack? The message/question you get in there seems more appropriate to the "obeying" path anyway.

Also, I don't think "metaphor for an abusive real life relationship" is the only appropriate interpretation of this game.