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Never End


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Rating: 4.4/5 (101 votes)
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PsychotronicNever EndIs anyone tired of Portal-inspired games about some faceless dude stuck in a sterile laboratory environment full of death traps yet? I know I'm not! Here's another one, comin' atcha! Never End is the ungainly title of this new platform/puzzler from Chinese developer Zlong Games. It may remind you of the Shift series in some not-so-subtle ways, but this game earns its keep with some great atmospheric touches and clever level design.

You control a smoothly animated silhouette of a man who is trapped in the middle of a giant maze full of spikes and shifting blocks. Move left and right with the [arrow keys], and jump with [up]. Now, you wouldn't be a very good lab rat if you didn't have some kind of experimental physics-warping super-power, would you? In this case, it's the ability to alter gravity by rotating the entire room 90 degrees at a time. Do this with the [Z] and [X] keys (sorry QWERTZ users, Asia is unsympathetic to your plight). Your penultimate goal is to find a way to one of the four exits on the outskirts of the overhead map. Your ultimate goal, if you want to wring maximum value from the game, is to escape through all four of those exits in turn, locate all the hidden clues, and uncover the greater secret behind the mysterious structure that confines you.

Most of the puzzles revolve (ha!) around the rotation technique. You'll nearly always be sharing a room with at least one heavy, oddly-shaped block, which must be manipulated using your gravity-altering powers to clear a path for you. Thus, Never End plays much like one of those abstract block-shifting puzzles, except here the blocks can smoosh you flat if you're not paying attention. It's like a big, complicated, deadly game of Tetris.

In a welcome twist (ha ha!) for an online puzzle game (although Shift 3 dabbled with this idea as well), all the rooms are physically connected. A map in the upper right side of your screen keeps track of which areas you've visited, and whenever you exit a room, you'll get a glimpse of the over-arching blueprint of the maze. Many puzzles have multiple exits, some of which can be impossible to reach unless you enter the room from the correct direction. This kind of multi-layered puzzle design makes Never End feel like a complete, intentional experience, rather than a mere list of puzzles that just stops when the designers run out of ideas.

Analysis: First, let's talk about the controls. They're not great. The jumping scheme follows in the footsteps of classic puzzle-heavy platform games like Prince of Persia and Flashback, where every jump had to be tackled in a specific way; but the main character's movement here is too fiddly to be comfortable. In the beginning I spent a lot of time conking my head on the bottom of blocks, when I meant to be pulling myself up onto them. The key is to start a few steps away and run into every jump, even when common sense would tell you to simply stand under the ledge and jump straight up. The standing jump is almost useless in this game. You generally need some momentum.

Never EndOnce you learn how to physically get around, though, this game really becomes rewarding. The puzzles require a lot of careful thought and creativity to solve, even though there is usually just one solution. You don't really have a lot of room to experiment, since rotating the room all willy-nilly will usually get you squashed or dump you onto a bed of spikes, so you have to consider each move before you make it.

The flip (oh ho ho!) side of the deliberate puzzle design is the slow pacing. It would be nice just to rip through a room like Usain Bolt* once in a while, but unless you've basically memorized all the necessary moves, you just can't. That, plus the occasional backtracking, plus the gawky controls, means your gratification may be somewhat delayed. It's like when your blind date shows up wearing braces, but then turns out to be a trained masseuse. Which totally happened to me the other day. Back in 'Nam, don'cha know.

Anyhoooooo, what really sold me on Never End, and transitioned me through that awkward phase of the relationship, was the sound design. Half the time, it's nothing but windy groaning noises and mechanical creaks, as though you're stuck inside a vast metal structure of some kind. Which, in case you haven't been paying attention, you are. The sounds do more to describe your environment than the spartan, monochromatic graphics do. When the music finally cuts in, it plays more to your total isolation than to any sort of comfort, and it doesn't stay long before the mournful howling floods back in. There does seem to be a little hiccup where the sound clip repeats, but it doesn't hurt the overall effect too much. I also want to acknowledge the nice, solid whump the giant blocks make when they fall, accompanied by plumes of rising dust. Those suckers look heavy.

It's probably best to ignore the zany cartoons that open and close the adventure. They seem to have been crafted by a different, more light-hearted creative team. They looked at this lonely, nihilistic game and said "This is too much of a downer. We're hitting the main guy with a truck, and then he falls down a manhole. We're basing the sound effects on Looney Tunes. Deal with it."

Before we wrap this up, indulge me a moment. I suppose it's inevitable, when a game is as widely played and loved as Portal, that nothing bearing the slightest resemblance to it can exist without conjuring up references to Valve's little meisterwerk. Nowadays, it seems like you can't make a game featuring talking computers, laboratories, death traps, anonymous protagonists, physics, or humor without some totally cutting-edge wag letting us know that "the cake is a lie" as fast as his pudgy fingers can type it. That's fine, but let's just briefly remember that Valve didn't actually invent any of that stuff. Homicidal computers go back at least to HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey; death traps to James Bond movies and countless comic book super-villains; anonymous heroes to the beginning of time; physics to Sir Isaac Newton; and humor to the day I finally worked up the courage to ask my best friend to the junior prom and she said "No." Oh how we laughed. Moreover, I think it's safe to say that Portal would not exist if not for the gloriously geeky 1997 math/horror film Cube, which really set the standard for this sort of thing. In fact, Never End bears more than a passing resemblance to Cube, what with the giant shifting geometric underground building and all, so from now on, let's keep the Portal comparisons to a minimum.

Oh wait. Turns out there's a big fat obvious Portal reference in it after all. Sigh, never mind.

Play Never End

* Now available on Jay is Games: up-to-date topical references.

101 Comments

On my keyboard the keys Y and Z are switched. It means the Z key is in the middle of the top row - so, it's actually right of key X. This means if I have to rotate the room to the left, I have to hit the right key and vica versa. Killed many of my folks :(

Also, sometimes, if my folk is one pixel away from the perfect jumping position he'll jump too far.

These two things killed the game for me pretty soon. In room 2, in fact.

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No matter how much you change it, all these games feel the same. This one is better than most with the rotation mechanism though. But my favorite of these-type of games is still Shift. Still this game is worth a play.

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"Oh how we laughed."

Well, that line certainly had me laughing.

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It's too slow.

Having to wait for it to rotate is annoying.

Having to wait for it to zoom to the door that opens and then out again, is painful.

Good concept and gameplay, but these things ruin it.

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Cube! Just for that I may ask a David Hewlett fan to drop him a link to JIG.

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Gah! I want to like this game. I think it's because I'm "only" on a 2GHz computer, but there's about a 1/2 second input lag right now. (In the big room with the spikes and the cross-shaped block.) Seriously, it's more or less unusable. Also, drop/speedup the zoom-in effect for doors.

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I absolutely loved this game. I'm glad it is receiving the recognition it deserves from JIG if not from the users on kongregate. I am sad, however, that it really. doesnt. ever. end. the red mantle is nice though.

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I don't mind the Portal inspired games, but if I see one more cake related joke in a Portal inspired game I will explode, and I'm taking you all with me.

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eh...it was okay.
Wish they had a game that combined shift, never-end, and portal.
that'd be awesome... ;)

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Wow. It must be that I'm going through a post school related stupidity session, but I can't get through the first level, excluding the tutorial.

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I found a glitch, probably minor (as I might be going about the roomthe wrong way), but I now have to restart the game as a result. There is a two-"square" room in quadrant 1-2 on the outer wall with an "L"-shaped slider and a "T"-shaped slider. If you manage to get the "T" in the spikes, your man pops off the screen never to be seen again. Just thought I'd let y'all know.

Anyways great game.

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Am I stuck, or does this game really not end?

I have the red mantle. I think I've gone through all the rooms I can: on the in-level map of the entire compound I don't see any unexplored doorways except for the red one, which I'm at right now but don't know how to open.

I only need 2 more notes (the 4th and 5th from the left on the bottom).

Help please! I've been playing for 2.5 hours now lol.

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To get the red door open,

There is a room that can move just like the blocks. It can be seen through the view when you change screens. do that at different angles and see which room moves. make that get to the room that you are at and the red door opens.

Also, I have 100% and I still have not gotten any kind of ending. Is there one, or was I just wasting my time?

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For some reason I can't seem to get the hang of the z and x keys for rotating the map. I keep accidentally pressing the wrong key and messing up. That combined with the wonky jumping, and the unforgiving spikes and crushing things, have kind of made this game a little too frustrating for me.

The Shift games seemed to be a lot easier for me to wrap my mind around. Which considering rotating things is a pretty normal part of life, and the whole shifting thing is counterintuitive of reality, you'd think this game would be easier.

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ThemePark Author Profile Page August 26, 2008 9:11 PM

So are you telling me that Valve didn't invent cake? :(

I started playing this game a few days ago and find it absolutely awesome. I dunno, there's something about the combination of mazes, puzzles and movable rooms that just gets to me.

And a reference to Cube too. Oh Psychotronic, how I love you.

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Hmmm...I feel this game is a bit too brutal when you die. I spent all this time on this one silly room and one wrong move and splat, do it again :/

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Too clunky and it takes forever to rotate the walls... :(

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Finally finished.

The one big criticism I have to make is how you had to play through almost all of the rooms again and again when you went through each exit.

Props to the level designer(s). I especially thought a couple rooms

1)the one movable cross that you used to ferry you around the level

2)the hollow shape that hung on a central block (one of the rooms with a note in it)

were brilliantly created.


By the way, JIGteam, there is something weird with how a spoiler and surrounding text has to be formatted for it to work right (for me at least). I noticed this first when doing the walkthrough for PonPon House 2. I have to make sure there is an entirely blank line before the open spoiler tag. If there isn't, then some of what's between the tags ends up outside of the spoiler when it posts.

Is this something wrong with my computer/browser settings, or is it just a quirk of how it works that I should get used to? It's not completely intuitive, but it's not much of a big deal either.

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LSN - the behavior you describe is a current known conflict between the blog's standard comment formatting system, and the spoilers.

We are aware that it is a bit awkward and we are working to make it better.

In the meantime, please use the Preview function to see how your comment will appear, and use blank lines before and after the surrounding spoiler tags for best results.

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Probably the way they programmed it, causing it to require ridiculously powerful hardware to run smoothly. I'm on an older computer and it takes 3-4 seconds for a single quarter-turn. I quit after the first room because of it.

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For the life of me, I can't figure out how to get to exit 2. I've been everywhere else, but I'm stuck on the room which leads to this exit... (the one with 2 keys and 3 doors, the one on the left leading to a labyrinthe-like room, and the bottom one I can't open)
If someone has the solution, please help me out!

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Never mind, I've got it! That's the power of posting! ;)

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Anonymous August 27, 2008 9:39 AM

I'm stuck at the red doors... How can I past them? It wont open by rotating!

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So is there a true ending, or a point to the cryptic secret notes? I have 100%, but I see nothing special.

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OrigamiMarie Author Profile Page August 27, 2008 1:54 PM

At first I thought he was sleeping whenever he crouched down and little smudges came up from him. No. He appears to be smoking. He moves well for a chain smoker. And that red cape does help. I am pretty sure he is not actually running faster or jumping higher, he just _looks_ like it. That's great. Do those secret messages mean anything? I know the other messages are hints and such like, but the ones marked with SECRET and a page number, do those suggest anything at all, or were they a red herring / unimplemented feature?

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Kassandra Author Profile Page August 27, 2008 2:52 PM

This is one of those rare cases where the review is more entertaining than the game. Thanks for making me chuckle!

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Clockwork Cree August 27, 2008 6:28 PM

I notice some people have 100% and no proper ending. I happen to have 45% and I finished the game. Kinda. You may have noticed that the opening screen has tabs labeled End 1-4. Hence there are 4 endings, depending on which route you take. I suspect the secret notes may have something to do with one of the endings but I can't be sure.

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Clockwork Cree August 27, 2008 6:41 PM

Sorry if this is a double post, my comp. is acting up.

I notice some people have 100% but no proper ending. I happen to have 45% and an ending. You may have noticed the opening menu has several tabs labeled End 1 thru End 4. Meaning there are 4 possible endings.

I found a note reading "This path must lead to the read exit..." just before I got the fourth ending. After the credits it allows me to continue from box one, all my explored boxes still on the map.

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Worst. Jumping mechanic. Ever.

Or close.
But other than that, I liked it.

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I would agree that if it is slow for you, it is your computer. I'm on a fairly old computer, and everything transitions quickly and smoothly for me.

As for the ending thing. I have been to all the rooms and collected all of the notes, but I have not seen a "happy" ending to the game (unless falling to oblivion is ok with the PC).

Having to replay the beginning levels again to seek the other exits is a little annoying, if only for the fact that it just takes that much longer. I didn't find the levels themselves too difficult. The red door trick was easy once I just examined the layout of the rooms on your first pause outside the rooms.

A good many of the rooms looked to have had quite a bit of forethought in their creation. The only room that seemed impossible was the "dragon" room near the end of exit 4.

Excellent game.

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Alex Hagen August 28, 2008 12:58 AM

Very fun game, maybe not quite as good or original as Shift, but excellent nonetheless. I too had trouble remembering which key turned which direction, but eventually made it. The jumping physics kind of sucked, but the level design was masterful.

So the secret hints were:

Page 1: 1994
Page 2: Project J
Page 3: 2008
Page 4: Dragon

And what that means I have no idea.

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For some reason I can't seem to get through the last room of the #1 ending ( even though I have gotten all the others). Can someone help?

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As for the clues, I have no idea either. I tried to Google them, got several video game links, but nothing included all the clues, or really made sense.

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Very nice. Generally very good level design - particularly liked the room with the red key in it on the way to exit 4, and both the rooms with four long blocks that interlock at the centre. The rooms without blocks feel kind of like a waste of a good idea, unfortunately, and the empty spaces on the map really should have levels put in them. Also, if ever there was a game which could benefit from a level editor, it's this one.

I'm at 100% completion, with all the notes and I've used all four exits, and I've only seen the standard "fall into oblivion" ending so far.

Maybe I need to complete it a fifth time to get the real ending?

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As a kid I was the first on my block to master "Prince of Persia", so the unforgiving controls were a welcome challenge. However, given my keyboard's x/z are adjacent, I can sympathize with the people who had those keys mixed up.

As for the level design: I think this game manages to create a sense of exploration with the numerous levels and endings. The rotation mechanic also helps keep the game feeling fresh when going back to rooms. Granted, back-tracking through a room in which I barely managed to get out of in the first place ended up impaling my character on a spike or crushed by a 200-ton pixel object (not to mention the blitzkrieg of f-bombers escaping my mouth), but the negative just make this game more enjoyable for me.

Thanks for the great game. Can't wait until the next release from your development team.

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Can anybody help me figure out the 2nd to last room on the path to the 4th exit? Its the one with long drops and lots of spikes, and not much to stand safely on.

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Ok, disregard my request for help. Apparently perfectly timed free falls are the key to avoiding the spikes.

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mixedmetaphor Author Profile Page August 28, 2008 3:14 PM

How do I get the red key? It's driving me crazy!

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There is no red key.

There is a room that free-floats around the map as you turn the game. Get that free-moving room to buddy up with the red door and it will open for you, then move the room around to get to the other point so you can get out of it.

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Actually, there is a red key in one of the rooms, but I have no idea what it does. It's the tall room with the block as wide as the room itself.

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That's a cape... your stick guy wears it the rest of the game. Doesn't do anything special from what I can tell.

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mixedmetaphor Author Profile Page August 29, 2008 8:27 AM

Yeah, I finally managed to snag the red key, but I can't seem to find this free-floating room everyone is talking about. None of the rooms in the main map seems to move; pressing x or z while I'm between rooms does nothing. Oh, and the red key apparently does nothing, too.

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You can't move the moving room on the map screen; you have to go into one of the red door rooms, and rotate from there until the red door opens (which means you have to look at the map screen while you're changing rooms and figure out what rotations you need to go through to align the two doors - I took a screenshot and annotated it). I've no idea what the red key does, either.

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greekblondenj Author Profile Page August 30, 2008 5:55 PM

I need a walkthrough, I am stuck in room with red door and the note that says to rotate to open door...... I a
cant get out, anyone please help

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Carny Asada Author Profile Page August 31, 2008 1:31 AM

Greek,

if you keep experimenting, you should see the red door slide open after several spins. Spin the room in both directions, not just one. The red door can slide shut again, so you're going to have to be careful.

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greekblondenj Author Profile Page August 31, 2008 7:54 AM

so the red door is finally open, i go through and the next room has the same red door, no other door, help

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You have to rotate the moving room until it connects to another door on another part of the map. If you're really struggling, take a screenshot of the map screen, and figure out what rotations you need to get into the moving room and over to the Exit 4 rooms.

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greekblondenj Author Profile Page August 31, 2008 8:14 AM

nevermind, now im stuck inroom with spikes everywhere, anyone please help.

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greekblondenj Author Profile Page August 31, 2008 5:42 PM

If anybody is still playing, please help im in room with rectangle black bock any way i rotate blocks the way out there is also a secret note and a key, can anyone please help,

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greekblondenj Author Profile Page August 31, 2008 5:46 PM

Never mind. I figured it out. It was end 4. I only did end 2 and then skipped to end 4.

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I am stuck in the room with the S shaped block, what do I do?

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I am stuck at this room:
http://i190.photobucket.com/albums/z150/quadtard/neverend.jpg

I can't get the long block to move out of the way of the door. Any help?

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I ran into the same bug Dougan saw. The game was pleasant enough until my guy simply vanished.
Is there no way to restart a level?

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Can anybody help me figure out the 2nd to last room on the path to the 4th exit? It's the one with long drops and lots of spikes, and not much to stand safely on.

You must jump and carefully land on the small lateral blocks near the spikes. Arrowkey press precision timing. You can move while falling.

And I am stuck in the next room, the last before exit #4, with the 2x3 block that I think should slide thought the middle side opening to let me pass. But I cannot figure how to do that.

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I'm stuck in the same room as fernando. Never got that other room done, though.

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nevermind. just restart the level and you'll see how to do it.

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Quadtard and Fernando,

The key in general would be to solve these levels by entering in such a way that you use the 'gravity' to your advantage. The blocks start in a particular configuration, and you can use this to your advantage.

Best,

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Schwournes Author Profile Page September 6, 2008 8:29 AM

I am having issues with the room with the spikes and the cross-shaped block. Others were slowing down at one point with a 5 second input lag, but that has stopped now - but this room keeps on freezing.

Awesome game though. But I'm itching to get past this room. I can do it, because it is the same principle the whole way through, just my computer doesn't seem to want me to...

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Help someone. I am in the last room before Level 2 and cannot for the life of me jump off the block and head downwards without impaling myself on the spikes. Can anyone help please?

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I just cannot jump down from the block in the room going into Level 2. Please help, I am getting very frustrated with this. I cannot believe other people have got past this room. I try to make him jump and then press left arrow to avoid spikes, but to no avail.

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I've given up.

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Is there anyone who looks at this site, who can help me with the room before entering Level 2?

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I've gotten to the room with the red door, but there are spikes between me and it. So where do I go from here? ( I can get the door open )

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Bear, What do I do in the room before Level 2? You've obviously got further than me. No-one seems to want to help me.

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D, describe the room.

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Bear, I can't really describe it only that there is one door. Perhaps I have to wait until I can enter the other door. This game is driving me nuts. I'm now stuck at the other side of the square opposite the Number 2 and can't get anywhere there either!

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Bear, I'm in the room where the block 'blocks' the man from entering. I'm stuck at both ends!

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grrrrr. I can get through the opening video, but then the game turns into a blank screen and I can't play it. this happens to several games. any advice?

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D, I'm still not sure where you are. If 1 is North, 2 East, etc. what direction are you? I finished the game, but got no ending. I don't think I got all the 'secrets', but it says 100% done. Will look here later in the week. Out.

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Bear, Got as far as 2 (East) but there is a door which is closed, maybe I need to be coming in through there. Now I'm W and stuck there as well in a room where it would be impossible to get past the block which takes up the room needed to pass, again another door there. I'm just STUCK!

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D, If there is a door that is closed, there should be a key. Unless it is red, then you have to 'shift' ( z, x ) to move a moveable room into position to open the red door. If you got through that, you have to 'shift' to get to the other red door opening. I still don't know about the room with the blocks. Using the previous reference points, ( 1 North etc. ) is the room a large square, small square, or an 'L' shape? Over.

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Bear, The oblong room above the Number 2 is where I first got stuck. I then travelled across to the other side where I got stuck again in a square room with an impassable block. I just seem to be going round in circles.

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Bear, All I seem to be doing is travelling East/West and back again. I just don't know what I'm doing wrong, this is really frustrating to say the least. I know about the xz business to open the red door (power of posting) but I seem to be at a dead end now.

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D, You have to get the little block to hold the big block in place. If you're entering from the big square next to the 2, the block has to go to the left. Then you go through ( above the big block { the one that looks like a 'c'}) and move the little block to the other side to hold the big block and cross over to the door. Do the reverse if you come from the other side. Anything else, describe the shape of the room and the number relation. Out

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Bear, Well, I'm stuck now on the West side, can't get out at all, not even back to the East side. Can't get out of the exit gap because at the West-most point, the box is a dead end (letter 'G' with one entry/exit). I really am stuck well and truly. Thanks for your help but I can't see myself escaping.....anywhere.

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Bear, I'm starting again......it's the only way! Might be back here asking you questions again! Thanks for your help.

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Bear, Thanks for your help regarding the 'C' shaped block being held by the smaller one. Now thanks to you I am on a roll, well, I was but now am stuck at the same place 'Quadtard' above was stuck (Post 2nd September). Fortunately, Quadtard has inserted a link which is most helpful, I am stuck in the same room. Any ideas? Over and out.

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Stuck in room with one way out, a secret, and a block. I'm between exit 4 and big room. Any help?

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Please, someone help! I have 98%, and I have passed all 4 exits. I found this hidden room located right next to, but not part of exit 4. The room right before has 4 corn cob pipe looking blocks and 3 exits. This room has 1 entrance/exit and a secret. But I can not figure out how to get past the block.

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Wow, just figured it out. I feel stupid. But, yay! 100%

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D, j gave the answer. If you enter the room a certain way the blocks will fall away from the door and when you shift you just hop over them. Over.

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Bear, I saw j's comment which doesn't help me at all. All that is happening is the block just moves from side to side, there is no way as far as I can see that it will move away from the gap because it is prevented by 'blocks' each side.

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O.K. I've finished thank goodness.

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Where is this room that moves?

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J|Guest: If you rotate the main frame, you will see in the smaller frame a block which moves around. That is the moving room.

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It would be nice when people help each other on these sites, for a thank you now and again.

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Is it possible to get stuck in some rooms once you made a wrong move or can you always solve every room no matter what you do?

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In the room with the red door (one entrance/exit, a hollow square block), I think a door went missing. Is this the famous moving room?

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Ending 4, GAAAAGH!

top secret

To get by, you must shift the gravity TWICE in a row.

top secret (I guess)

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Okay, I'm just a random person, never really played online games before really, so if there's special gaming tricks, I don't know them. I'm stuck in the room where the pieces completely block the door. Is there a way to shift the room 180 degrees? I'm going crazy. It's a small square room towards the corner between the third and fourth exit. There's no keys, no secrets and I have the red mantle. HELP!

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question...cannot make it through a room, have been trying a LOT. when the map is situated so 1 is at the top, 2 is to the right, 3 is at the bottom, etc, I am stuck at the room directly right of the number 1. it is a long room ,with an L piece and an odd shaped T piece. I sorta know what I need to do to get to the exit, but can't seem to execute the task. Any assistance would be lovely.

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Im stuck in the last room before the forth ending. I feel really stupid because I know what I need to do I just don't know how to do it.

Can someone please help me :)

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Hey, where was the deluge of Flash games people thought up after watching 300? Didn't that become irritatingly oversaturated too? Oh well, games that let you fiddle with the rooms and stages themselves are always fun to play, even if the game itself mocks you the whole way.

[Edit: Please use angle brackets for HTML code. -Pam]

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Anonymous July 6, 2009 6:58 PM

HELP where is the room with the red door i have done all exits but number 4

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Sunshinegirl June 10, 2010 12:58 AM

I finished with a 100 percent.

But why is the ending for even exit 4 the same for any other exit? Then what the heck is the point? It really made me mad!

This "insane maze", to me, seems finished but what do the CLUES HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THIS GAME? And also, does this person never escape? I feel bad. I gave him a name. Marvin. Is there a secret room or a secret level that I don't know about?

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I stumbled upon the red door, opened it with some rotating, and am stuck in the moving room. I don't have a full map, but can someone post one or something? I wish I'd found exits 2 and 3 first.

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Never mind, I got out!

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And now I reached Exit 4!

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Love this game. I just wonder where those creative ideas come from. It's easy for me to control it, perhaps that is because I share the same culture and way of thinking with the developer.
Anyway, I do wonder what those "secrets" mean.

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Finally, I completed 100%!! All 4 exits :)
I just wish there was something more about the secrets.

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