What does it truly mean to die in a video game? Most players are accustomed to seeing a “Game Over” screen, a killcam showing the perpetrator of their deaths, a prompt to insert more coins, or at the very least, an instant respawn. “Continue?9876543210,” (which will hereby be shortened to “Continue?”) tries to go in-depth with what happens to a video game character once they kick the metaphorical bucket. While it’s certainly quite contemplative, it may take a few playthroughs to truly grasp. And even then, it will still be a tad confusing.
The game automatically starts (no opening menus, or menus at all, for that matter) with a game character, chosen randomly from a pool of six, facing his death at an old-school arcade “Continue?” countdown. They plead with this in-game universe that they don’t want to die, and at the end of the countdown, they are sent to a strange purgatory known as the Random Access Memory, where they must wander through time-limited levels filled with characters who talk about the philosophical aspects of death and dying.
Every few levels, you’ll be sent to a village where a garbage collector of sorts reaps the souls of those who can’t find shelter. In order to find shelter, you will need to gather prayers from the characters in the levels. However, there’s a trade-off: Those same characters offering prayers also offer the path to exit the level. Therefore, it becomes a battle of instant gratification vs. future preparedness. It’s a constant uphill battle that often feels unfair.
Perhaps that’s the point of it. Death is inevitable and no one can escape it, no matter how much we loath it. No matter how many prayers you gather, no matter how many in-level problems you solve, your end result is always the same — death.
It’s a fascinating concept, but that concept is brought down by unintuitive design. As mentioned before there are absolutely no menus. That means no way of exiting the game apart from alt-tabbing out. In addition, if you thought my explanation of the game above was confusing, that’s nothing to say of how the game explains itself. It will take a few play throughs to get any bearing on the situation. For the first few runs through the game, the rules will not be clear at all.
And yet, if players can persevere, they’ll find an incredibly philosophical and mind-bending experience unlike anything on the market. The learning curve is steep and intimidating, but the title will still provoke many emotions and reactions regardless.
Developer: Jason Oda
Platform: PC, Mac, Linux