Dead world, full of shades

by Seanba on February 11, 2010

I haven’t been keeping up with indie gaming as much as a game enthusiast probably should  (I have a hard enough time keeping up with all the AAA retail games), but I did just hear about an IGF finalist that sounded pretty cool:

Today I Die is different from any other finalist in this year’s Independent Games Festival. Described by its creator, Daniel Benmergui, as a "game poem," the player manipulates the words of a literary poem in order to advance through the short, web-based game.

Normally I’m not one for web-based games, but it promised to be short so I gave it a try

Today I Die | Flash game

… and now that I’ve played through it my only regret is that it didn’t last a bit longer. And now I can’t keep my brain from buzzing on how Today I Die’s theme and mechanic can be further developed in more mainstream video games.

But what really surprised me about this game wasn’t the novel idea of rearranging words in a poem but the tone and feeling of it all. I know I’m about to get a little too sappy here, but Daniel and his game did a great job taking me somewhere I haven’t been in a long while. I’m all grown up and happy now with a wife and kids and dog and mortgage and career and all that other adult stuff that killed my affinity for despair a million years ago. Still, playing this game made me feel like I was a troubled (read: average) teenager again, consumed with doubt and all the insecurity and self-destruction that comes with it. Even the poetry within the game smacks of the kind of all-important and over-emotional faux meaningfulness that eventually embarrasses us in adulthood.

It was a rather unexpected experience, and truth be told I feel a little weird gushing over it like this, but hey, I guess that’s what art feels like.

Job well done. Now I’m going to check out Daniel’s other work.

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