Estamos Pensando


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Rating: 3.8/5 (132 votes)
| Comments (53) | Views (27)

KarmenEstamos PensandoA piece was submitted this year to the 2008 SBGames Independent Gaming Festival in Brazil that pushed the envelope of gaming and received high initial reviews. Yet, on the surface, the game seemed like nothing more than an awkward, weakly executed platform game. So what has everyone thinking about Estamos Pensando? Play the game, then read our review and find out.

Perhaps it is the interesting paradox that the game explores. "Estamos Pensando is a game about the experience of having someone you love demanding from you things you can't actually do," as its author describes. This unusual little game begins with you being dumped. "Let's end this," she says, and she means it, because no matter how you high you try to jump for her, she won't budge. She wants a man who will go to space to bring her the stars. After that harsh speech, all you can do is grab your dignity and the arrow keys and go.

The controls are rather simple: [up] to jump, [left] and [right] to run, but the controls can be rather frustrating if you ignore the advice in the beginning explaining the wall jump. To use this fancy maneuver, jump on a wall and wait until you start to slide down, with one arm still reaching for the stars. While sliding, jump again and you'll be propelled in the opposite direction. It won't take long to get the hang of it, but as soon as you do, you won't need it any more.

Who says a game must have a happy ending? The designer of this game, Daniel Novais, believes games are diversions, used not necessarily for amusement, but to explore impossible situations. Estamos Pensando, with its depressing story line and meager game mechanics, is not really a fun game. But at the same time, it is fascinating, because it allows us to explore a paradox familiar to anyone who has ever fallen in love. It gently reminds us that we cannot fulfill someone else's desires without sacrificing something of ourselves.

"Estamos Pensando" is a Portuguese phrase meaning "we are thinking." Indeed, this game has some of us thinking. Is there a place in the casual gaming sphere for games that are weakly amusing, but strongly aesthetic? We've seen brilliant works, some artistic, some philosophical, and some downright weird, that couldn't rightly be called games, but still made interesting diversions. Novais' work is a great example of this. It combines simple art, soothing music, and a troubling paradox into a curious piece that demands to be played several times. So, reach for the stars, and experience.

Play Estamos Pensando

53 Comments

Well...that was interesting. Does anything happen differently if you go left? I only went right the whole game.

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AdamantVision November 9, 2008 6:43 PM

This was a very intriguing experience...really made you think.

I totally called the ending when I was halfway up the building though.

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Major Spoiler:

It actually got me to commit suicide without thinking about it. Masterfully done. It's not often a game can encourage you to jump off the top of a building without you realizing it.

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I like this game, it was very easy, but that just gave me time to think. I'm definitely coming back to this one.

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It won't let me past press enter. Is this because I'm on a mac?


[Edit: Try clicking on the game first. -Jay]

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This is by no means a "good" game, it plays quite awkwardly, and is exceedingly short.

Then again, I actually quite like it... It's an intriguing one, a game where it's not all about the gameplay, where one might say it was "art".

Beyond the basic and somewhat cliched message of the game's plot, one of love lost and sacrifice; this game plays with our preconceived notions of how games should work.

Where we normally play games almost with our minds and our emotions switched off and numbed, especially so in the case of platformers, this game takes our assumptions about the game's world, turns it upside down and pulls us back to reality. And then it hits you, in the heart, and then in the mind.

What's more it does all of this rather concisely.

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Interesting stuff. I like the concept of using games to explore potential life experiences. I can't say I liked this particular offering though. This game appeared to suggest that the young man had a fatal experience.

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ThinkingGamer November 9, 2008 8:33 PM

Thanks for reviewing this game. I love it when JayIsGames looks at interesting gameplay innovations in Flash rather than the usual amusing-game-of-the-day format.

Really appreciated.

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Mystify:

For me, it's the fact that in so many games you are expected to jump off trees and buildings and collect stars.

Normally when you do this in a game, it's so bland and mundane, you don't stop to think that it's impossible, or silly, let alone think of the consequences of doing something like this in real life.

In fact, at the beginning, this game is firmly rooted in the stereotypical conceits of your average platformer. We're comfortable with jumping about on top of trees and over canyons, bounding from wall to wall. Then the reality of just jumping off a building to reach a star really hits you.

On another note... I really wanted that pink one to do something at the end, rather than just stand there. At least just walk away or something.

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Tranchera Author Profile Page November 9, 2008 8:53 PM

Fine concept, but a terrible game. The controls were sluggish, and I couldn't ignore the fact that my guy could bound up walls like a Ninja, but couldn't run very fast to save his life.

Still, YES, great concept.

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Worst....game....ever. How incredibly boring.

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I'd say this game would've deserved a Link Dump, not it's own review, but hey, it's my opinion. At some point, I apparently almost collected enough stars, but I went to the girl. Then I saw she wasn't anywhere, so I got like 2 more stars. That's when I won.

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No can do. The language options screen shows up, so I click inside the game, and press Enter. Rinse, lather, repeat. No va.

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Celidah - I'm on a Mac, too, so I don't think that's the issue because the game runs for me when I press [enter].

Maybe try updating your Flash Player?

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I'm on a Mac too. Didn't work in Firefox, but was fine in Safari.

Interesting little game / experience.

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Depressing and extremely nice.

I just hope that more games like this (or that other one about the meaning of life as a game character... can't remember the name) come out!

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Papachabre Author Profile Page November 10, 2008 6:41 AM

I wouldn't call this a game:

The only way to lose is to quit playing, and given the game's ending that may be considered a win =P

There was no challenge, no score system, no clearly-defined goal, etc... But however bland the gameplay, the story was neat (perhaps a bit controversial) and the music was great.

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There was more emotion packed into this small game then there is in most long ones.

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I can't wall grind... and his arm doesn't go up or anything. I jump, crash into the side of the wall, but he doesn't jump again... help?

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I feel stupid. Can't get that wall jump done for the life of me, so I'm stuck at the very beginning.

I run, jump at a wall, hit it, and slide. I hammer the jump again and I hit the bottom of the wall. My arm doesn't go up or anything, I just hit and fall.

Any tips on how to wall jump?

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Ashiel,

I got stuck like this as well. Are you in between two grass walls that are just too big to jump over? They are too short to start sliding on (that comes later). However, you can jump onto the horizontal tree branch in the middle!

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To the reviewer: the author's last name is "Novais", not "Novias".

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Note to designer: I don't care if you have some interesting concepts to sell or emotional feedback to offer, don't make the main character (to quote Coach Oleander) move like molasses going uphill in January. With crutches.

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OK, decided to play it through (read: endure it).

Oh. My. God.

You people find these concepts stimulating? Oh, come on, this is a Flash version of some emo's dream. All I see is:

some Werther-like kid who has just been dumped bawling and yelling "She wants stars? Well, I'll KILL myself and I'll get her stars then while she weeps over my broken mangled body, let's see how she likes THAT!"

Pretentious? Yes. Thought-provoking? Hardly.

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It was OK. I wouldn't mind trying it again to see if things could come out differently, except...

...it's sooooo slow. The blue guy moves agonizingly slowly. A missed jump made me quit on the first try (do I want to go through *that* again??) Lucky I didn't miss it on the second go through.

On top of that, a technical problem---every minute or so the framerate on my browser would (literally) drop to one frame per second. It would clear up in another minute, but basically I had to stand there doing nothing for about 1/4 of the game.

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@Ashiel - I had a similiar problem with that. The first "wall" you come to cannot be climbed. You have to jump on the tree that is in that area to continue to the right.

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Sorry, but I'd really rather play a game that's both fun AND stimulating, rather than one that's horribly unfun but with a depressing story. Either way, if one is lacking from the other I'd like to have them separated. See, reading a depressing story is thought provoking. Playing a fun game, it speaks for itself. But this? I just have a feeling this review could have been better spent reviewing some other game. :/

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So, from the usual viewpoint of graphics/sound/gameplay/uniqueness/replay value... it's pretty obvious that it doesn't really have any high marks in any category, except for sound.

So with that being said, let's throw that out the window. I'm also not particularly interested in labeling it an 'art game' and leaving it at that; the idea of double-standards with some games being subject to less scrutiny because they are designed to inform or inspire rather than entertain is a weak argument to me.

The review in six words: This game is worth playing, once.

In essence, the -value- of the game exists completely separate from the gameplay, which is admittedly poor. In most games, the interactivity is the means in-an-of-itself; in this one, the interactiveness only exists to promote the immersion.

The game is worth playing because of the two points that it makes, though the impact of each may vary by person. The first is the stated goal of teaching a lesson that sometimes you do irrational and destructive things for love. The impact is not as strong as it could be, however; a stronger lesson could be if you could reach the first three stars, and the fourth one was beyond reach.

The other lesson is as Yvonne points out, that so often we disconnect from the reality of the games, and do things that we would never do normally. I didn't second-guess my action

of jumping off the edge

at all; the meta-question that the game brings up is 'why didn't think twice'. Your mileage, however, may vary.

The 'game' could be better if the movement was less clunky; the wall-jumping is pretty much entirely unnecessary to advance the story, and may even distract from it. Overall, however, it's worth the five minutes it takes for a run-through.

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Outraged Person November 10, 2008 4:59 PM

To the person who said this deserved to be in link dump was COMPLETELY wrong, it deserved to be never shown on this normally prestige website.

It was incredibly time wasting, bored me senseless. Art is a confusing subject, but this is not..its simple. A simple waste of time.

Even though I am only 14, and may not have an 'art thinkers mind per sa', though I know this is not a good game or art...

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erm.......... is the only goal of this game to snap your guts/spine in half by hurling yourself off a building?

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No. The goal is to get stars for your girlfriend. Jumping off a building to get stars in a game is something we do normally in games. The point is that it's not something we can actually do, but we think nothing of it in a game like this. Does that make any sense?

And for those of you who said it was really slow, the site is probably full of people. I played and the guy walked at a rather fast pace.

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Carny Asada Author Profile Page November 10, 2008 11:45 PM

It took me a while to figure out how to get it to play on my Mac: Mouse doesn't work, but enter key and arrows do.

And..... not worth the effort. Graphics were "eh"; storyline was predictable; gameplay was atrocious.

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I kinda liked it, in a fatalistic kind of way. A friend of mine has this gf who is really hard to please, and although he isn't going to jump off any buildings anytime soon, he is both in love and very frustrated... the game's ending, with the girl just standing there, is perfectly in line with this. She expected him to fail, he did, and all she feels is disappointment that she didn't get what she wanted. There are no As for effort in her book...

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zbeeblebrox Author Profile Page November 11, 2008 12:57 AM

It's hard to play this and not feel really depressed for the character you're controlling after

you inadvertently cause him to commit suicide.

Because you KNOW what you're doing is a futile, almost tragic gesture.

Definitely a game to avoid if you're not in the mood to think or care about stuff. Advice some of the people responding could have used, I think.

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My take:

Don't know why I'm bothering with spoilers, but someone may get this far and still not be aware of the whole thing, so here goes:

She wants stars. One plays a game and does the impossible (the wall hopping - *I* can't do it IRL!), and we leap over the edge thinking the character will grab a star, only to die.

Someone said this was very emo, with the kid doing a whole, "You want stars? I'll give you stars!" kind of suicide, but that's not the chord it struck with me.

A guy gets the impression he can do anything to get his girl back and doesn't realize his own limitations. We see him do the wall hop - a typical platform move - and then he dies when he does something that would get him killed IRL. And he doesn't appear to be flinging himself off in pain or dispair, but rather is surprised to find that he's failed.

And yet, even after death, he is still trying to please her, so rather than being shocked by his unexpected death, he takes his freedom and actually *does* the impossible. On the one hand, it cost him, but on the other hand, he's happy that he can, in some way, make her happy.

I think he's naive, though, because we see her standing over his body at the end. He believes he's finally found a way to succeed, and he doesn't realize he's failed her in the ultimate way, by leaving her altogether. Yes, they were breaking up, but that didn't mean he had to die. Whenever people interact, they form a chain. Even people who haven't seen each other in years still have an impact on each other. His death impacted her in a very, very negative way.

I don't mind that JIG is linking us to this. It's unusual and it's thought-provoking. But I wouldn't call it either a game or an art piece. I'd call it an interactive story, at best. Or maybe, an interactive picture book. Anyway, it's not as horrible as people are making it out to be, but it's not really a game per se, so it won't make everyone happy, but oh well.

[You spell it naive. -Pam]

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When playing this game, I thought one thing - who would build a building that requires ninja-like skills to get up the levels? Also, the other levels are even furnished. What did they use, rocket boots?

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I played a strange game, I liked it.

The morale of the story: Go out now and buy your girlfriend some damned flowers. Safes a lot of despair later on. I suppose the game is secretly sponsored by the florists union ;-)

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In many ways I'd consider this is not a game, it is art. People have a disgustingly modernised concept of what art means, but this is a "game" with the purpose of expressing something.

One of the hardest things to express is an emotion. People have tried for centuries to do it with paint, pencil, music, words, looks, even actions. To do it with a game is no more abstract than anything else, just not many have managed it.

I think the game does an impressive job. It may not have what many would consider the best art or gameplay, but it carries something about it which I'm not going to try and put into words and steal it from the game. Play it with an open mind and soul and let go. Let the game carry you and maybe you'll see what I mean; I think some of the above did while others were too impatient to feel what was there.

There is less cliche in the game than the review suggests I think. The cliche is only the medium and foreground, there is a depth there that I've not seen outside music or poetry for a long time.

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Er...I may be missing something but

isn't this more of practical joke than a philosophical statement? Andit didn't even work on me...I got to the point where I was clearly stuck and just stopped playing.

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Are you sure that site is virus-free? I got a trojan when I entered it..

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Tabs has it spot on, that's what it meant for me.

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My take:

As others above have pointed out, this game has (or is trying to send) two different messages. The first is that people will do self-destructive things for what they believe is love. The second is that the things our characters/avatars do in games can be highly unrealistic.

There is a problem, though, That problem, in a nutshell, is that trying to send both messages at once reduces the impact of each message. By allowing the game character to jump off walls, he is made less human, and thus his leap off the top of the building has far less impact. After all, jumping off the top of the building is not an act of suicide, it is the act of a player who has been led to believe that the character can do things most people can't. So any emotional impact that might have been gained from the whole "doing self-destructive things for love" theme is lost, at least for me. Instead, it all seems rather trite and contrived. At the same time, trying to push the self-destruction theme mars my experience of the "flaunting game conventions" theme, because once I realized that there was a "deeper" message being sent, the "flaunting game conventions" theme became a mere tool in getting that message across, rather than being a message in and of itself.

This game reminds me of an IF (interactive fiction) piece I played some years ago. I don't remember the name of the game, but it was a fairly standard set-up. You started in some castle or dungeon and had to escape, slaying goblins and orcs along the way. Of course, at the end of the game, you discover that you are not some medieval adventurer, you are a patient in a mental hospital, and you've just slain a bunch of nurses and doctors. Oops.

I remember playing that game and feeling cheated--the game had fooled me into thinking that it was like any other game, and I was expected to kill the monsters. I wasn't hit with this big epiphany at the end, thinking, "Oh my god, I've just killed a whole bunch of people." Instead I thought, "Well, that was weird."

What it comes down to for me is this: deceiving the player into doing something is not an effective way to get a message across. Going back to IF, take Adam Cadre's Photopia. This was another game I played some years back, and it affected me rather deeply. Why? It didn't try to deceive me; instead, it drew me in with a real story and characters. It made me feel real emotions.

This game here, though? I felt like I was standing on Speaker's Corner, watching the crazies rant. Sure, I know what the guy is trying to say, but I am not convinced.

It can be difficult to criticize a game like this without implying that those who are moved by it are somehow inferior, and I've noticed that some of the negative comments above were made without considering this fact. I do not want to give the same impression here. Everyone sees things from a different perspective, everyone has different life experiences that color their perception of the world. Maybe this worked for you, and if it did, great! It just didn't work for me.

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Excellent post, Suho--I tend to agree with your take on it, especially that it is not particularly moving (in my opinion) to be tricked into doing an action.

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Thanks. It's good to know I was actually making some sort of sense there. :)

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It never fails. A game comes out where the game designer wanted to say something and out come the pretentious police. These people exist to protect us from our own misguided notions of art.

It just bugs me. Here you've got the author of this game trying to communicate something through this game. Fine, you don't think he succeed. Fair enough. To each their own. But for some reason for some people this just isn't enough. They can't just say, sorry--this game didn't work for me.

They HAVE to attack the author/game for trying at all to say anything. It has to be 'pretentious'. And the more people who actually get the message or like the game the louder they have to bellow about it being pretentious.

It just drives me nuts. What is so threatening about people who have something to say? What is so threatening about people trying to communicate how they feel about the world? I just don't get it.

Sigh, I'm depressed now.

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P.S.

I'd just like to mention that I'm not at all against the smart sort of critic done by Suho1004. His analysis is well-thought out and brings in direct examples from the game.

Further he is smart enough to not attack the game for trying to have a message and even gets himself involved in the conversation of what the game means and why it does or doesn't work.

Reading his analysis made me feel a lot less depressed. I disagree with him, but that's cool because he still had a lot of great points.

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It's:

What you make of it
Emotional, Pretentious
More than Zombo.com

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I'll spoilerize this just because I don't want the rant to take up too much space.

I think everyone is entitled to his/her opinion, and don't think that a positive opinion has more merit then a negative one.

If I go to an art gallery and see a bunch of people admiring a frozen chicken impaled on a stick, am I not allowed to consider it pretentious and dull and find calling it "art" a bit over the top? I am not suggesting that people who DO find something in it are inferior, poetic people can look at any mundane thing and find inspiration in it, but personally I think I have a right to NOT like something.

All I got from this game is that the author tried to make a (for me, rather weak) point by forcing a player to endure some of the sluggiest controls ever developed for a flash game. So, yes, I did not like it. If you did, and it made you think, and perhaps realize some stuff and whatnot, great, but it did not do that for me. Noone is superior or inferior in any aspect.

It's rather like that book from Goethe, "Sorrows of Young Werther" which we had to read in high school yonks ago. I found it completely soulless and uninspiring, made a report in such a vein and got an F, because I didn't "get it". However, if art is really subjective, why am I not allowed to not "get it", or better yet, "get it but not really care about it"?

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Same sentiments as Mystify i.e. I'm scared.
- =P

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Art is in the eye of the beholder. Gateway II spawned deeply involved discussion about the overprotective mother/growing daughter theme. No one considered the author pretentious for creating a storyline, although some found the execution a bit clicheed. To me, a background story/theme only enhances, and in the case of Estamos Pensados it gave me more reason to want to deal with the mushy gameplay (which wasn't that mushy to me, as I'm a slow old geezer).

Of course this game belongs on JayIs, and of course it deserves its own review because it is *more* than the average mindless run-n-jump collect-badges go-faster-for-higher-score game.

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