Today I Die


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Rating: 4.8/5 (559 votes)
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PsychotronicToday I DieSince even before I Wish I Were the Moon, Daniel Benmergui has been answering an interesting question: What are the narrative possibilities of a game where the player's only method of interaction is to move objects from place to place, one at a time?

I Wish I Were the Moon solved the problem by offering several different endings, with a simple means of reaching each one. It was charming, and inspiring in its clean originality, but it left an unwritten question: What if these same interaction techniques were applied to a single purpose? What if it all added up to something greater?

This is that game. With nothing onscreen but a few blocky characters and a short poem, Today I Die carves a slice out of an existential nightmare and serves it to you raw. You could classify it as an adventure game or a puzzle game, but it doesn't feel like it should be pigeon-holed with anything. The solutions are so well-integrated, applied with such holistic grace. You won't even realize how many jigsaw pieces are displaced until you discover how they fit together.

Inflated low-resolution sprites have become a shorthand for interactive narrative experiments. See Gray, Don't Look Back, and The Majesty of Colors for examples. Without complex characters and animation to distract you, the direct spark between player and game calls focus. Your brain turns on because it has to, in order to make sense of the visuals.

As satisfying as each moment is, Today I Die is still a very short ride. The exciting thing, more than the game itself, is the path it blazes—a true integration of story and interplay, unmanageable by any other medium but games. If this is a poem, imagine a novel. Somewhere, a budding game designer is playing Today I Die, brain suddenly burning with the possibilities.

Play Today I Die

Walkthrough Guide


(Please allow page to fully load for spoiler tags to be functional.)

Well, the game is a little too easy to need a walkthrough, so here's a narrative-through, with my own interpretation of the plot (apologies to Daniel Benmergui if I'm completely wrong)...

THE STORY

Ugh... my life. What isn't boring is painful. There's nothing to do and no time to do it, I'm too shy to make friends, mom and dad are always pestering me about my grades (as if anything in high school is going to be useful in the real world), and the one boy I like (who lives right next frickin' door) doesn't even know I exist.

I was just sleepwalking these days, trying to let all the bad stuff just roll right over me, to ignore it, to not feel anything as life tossed me around like a stupid, helpless ragdoll.

So, one day I got home from school, just like every other day, and trudged up to my room. I took out a little journal in my nightstand. I hadn't written for a long time, I used to love it, I'd close my eyes and imagine fantastic worlds, but the last couple years I hadn't had the energy.

EMILY'S POETRY JOURNAL, the thing said in that stupid, cutesy little flowery script on the cover. Dang, this thing was old. I was a little embarrassed to be writing in it, but the way I felt right now, nothing mattered. I just let myself regress, to feel that power once again.

THE POEM

When I was a kid, I'd imagine unicorns, fairyland and harps. Now, all I could picture was an ocean, a ball and chain wrapped around me dragging me down to the depths. The words flowed out of my mind, and all I could write was...

dead world
full of shades
today I die

That's what started it all.

dead world
full of shades
today I die

Around me drifted two dark fish with glowing eyes, and a bunch of pale yellow jellyfish. I couldn't move my arms or legs, but I felt an invisible hand could pull stuff around at my command, almost like the cursor of a mouse. The dream logic in full effect. I could move the jellyfish, the dark fish, and me.

I found I'd written two words below it, on the page, "dark" and "painful." I wondered what I'd created, so I mentally dragged the word "dark" up to where the word "dead" was, to make them switch places.

dark world
full of shades
today I die

I imagined an undersea cavern, with a bunch of dust clouds gathered around some hidden thing at the bottom. As tired and worn out as I was, I couldn't even move them.

This was the world where I could seal myself away from the world, allowing nothing out or in.

Then I dragged the word "painful" over the word dark, and entered the painful world, expecting pain to wash over me.

painful world
full of shades
today I die

No pain, not directly. Just five shadows in a circle, their eyes closed. I could move them, but there didn't seem much point.

All of these shades, they were memories, memories of the things I was going through, all the people in my life I resented. This was the painful world, the world where I sat on my bed, staring at the ceiling, and moping, replaying all the bad moments from my days.

I dragged the word "dead" over the word "painful," and returned to the dead world.

dead world
full of shades
today I die

The dead world was waiting for me. I drifted down again, feeling the depths flowing up to crush me. I idly clicked on one of the jellyfish, expecting a jolt, perhaps to trigger me awake.

But no, when I held the jellyfish, something strange happened. It started to glow. And as it slowly glowed brighter the longer I held it, an idea came into focus above it. It slowly grew clearer, I imagined its glow breaking the shadows away, shielding me, protecting me.

On the page beneath the poem, I began to write the word S... H... I... N...

But then the bad thoughts came rushing back in the form of the two dark fish, that swooped up and killed the poor thing.

My eyes closed again. Nothing could stop the pain. I couldn't even imagine victory.

But something possessed me. Some fire, some righteous anger, some burning desire to grasp that light again. And somehow I resolved to not let those horrible thoughts stop me.

As the jellyfish drifted away, it came back on the other side of the field, alive once again. I picked up another one, held it, and this time, as the dark fish came for it, I yanked it away, moving it all around the field to keep it away from them. It might have taken a couple tries, but eventually I did it, and it released the idea. I wrote the letter E on the page of my journal, and now the word SHINE appeared in front of me, in this abyss.

I picked up that word, and the word "die" lit up in that same golden color. Putting all of my concentration and willpower into this new positive thinking, I dragged "shine" over the last word of the poem, and the word "die" disappeared, banished from my page forever.

dead world
full of shades
today I shine

The glow surrounded me, now. I was no longer falling, I floated, drifting in one spot, shining, no longer wet, able to breathe again, even in this nightmarish world. I moved myself around and found that my aura now repelled the shadow fish. And what's more, all those jellyfish began to glow as well. The evil fish, overwhelmed by the glow, fled off the field.

I was excited, a feeling I had not felt in ages. I moved up the word "dark" again, and wondered if the shades there would respond this time.

dark world
full of shades
today I shine

The dead world disappeared just like the dying had, leaving me in that undersea cavern. I moved down again, and this time the clouds moved away at my approach, revealing something stuck in the sand. Power coursing through me, I lifted the thing easily, and saw it was a statue. A statue of me, swimming upwards, evading the shades from the painful world.

Swimming?

A new idea came to me. The shining protected me, but I had to use so much willpower and concentration that it was keeping me in one place. Perhaps I could drop my guard long enough to escape?

I wrote the word "swim" on my journal page, and it appeared in front of me in the cavern, resting atop the statue. I drifted close to illuminate it, plucked it, and replaced SHINE with SWIM.

dark world
full of shades
today I swim

I launched myself upwards, the ball and chain now feeling light as a feather around me. But the cavern ceiling was in the way. I was illuminating the dark world, but seeing its limitations as well.

The dead world was gone, so there was only one recourse. I would brave the painful world.

painful world
full of shades
today I swim

There was no ceiling here. I swam upwards. Above me I could see the faint outline of a concept, an idea, a place where I could escape to.

Could I be thinking of a free world? How could...

But then the shades opened their eyes, and swam towards me. The demons, the mental avatars of all the people who made me unhappy, they attacked, the memories rushed back, and they dragged me down. I heard a dangerous sound pounding through my ears, as my newfound courage threatened to shatter.

In panic, I dragged the word "shine" up, in a desperate attempt to repel them. And it worked, they were pushed away. But their eyes were still open, still staring at me, still threatening to push me down further if I took one step out of the wall I had built around myself.

Had I written myself into a corner?

painful world
full of shades
today I shine

As I wondered what to do, I saw some flashes of light below me. Something was drifting up, some bubbles. I swooped down to touch one before it could hit a shade and pop, and as it grew, it showed me a vignette of a happy memory, one of the few nice moments that had been sprinkled across the long eons of my years here.

I searched the recesses of my memory, visualized by my diving for more of these bubbles. I seized and grew five of them. The light given off by them repelled the shades as well.

I arranged them in a circle around me. With them, I wouldn't need to focus on an artificial happiness to beat the demons.

I replaced SHINE with SWIM once again.

painful world
full of shades
today I swim
.

This time, the shades were repelled by the memories. The few happy ones were now enough to get me through the bad times.

And as I swam, I slowly wrote the word FREE on the journal page, as it slowly came into focus above me. Once it turned the color of validity, I replaced the word "painful" with it.

A miracle happened. The word "shine" vanished, since I no longer needed its artificial power, but now I shone all on my own, without it.

And the dark and painful worlds vanished.

free world
full of shades
today I swim

I was now above the dead world, near the surface of the ocean, ready at any moment to break the surface, to be free.

I was scared when the bubbles disappeared, but now the shades didn't approach. I was shining on my own now, and they looked sad, defeated.

I seized each one and brought it close, imprisoning it in a bubble. The bubbles were happy thoughts, even about these people who were the source of so much pain.

And as I did so, a new word was written, slowly appearing above me. I only needed four, for some reason, but I could use five as well.

And once this word appeared, and all the shades were trapped in bubbles, I dragged this new word up to replace the defeated shades.

free world
full of beauty
today I swim

I watched the happy memories engulf the shades, and turned the dark shadows into shining golden gems.

I gathered them up, them sticking together into a shining golden bundle. I held all of them close, cuddling them, loving them

I was interrupted by the doorbell ringing downstairs. I was jolted out of the free world, but even as I went down to answer it, part of me still remained there, picturing it, interpreting everything going on now as part of my dream, letting the world back in.

I answered the door, and there stood Justin, the boy next door. I caught my breath. In the real world, he said he'd come by to borrow a DVD, but in the free world, he was swimming as well, and had been drawn over by the shining light of the golden shades in my collection.

In the real world, he looked at me oddly, like he saw something different about me. I thought it was just part of the dream, but then he asked what was going on, saying that he hadn't seen me look so cheerful in a long time.

I wasn't dreaming. I didn't know what to say, I stammered out an assurance that nothing had happened, that I didn't know what he was talking about.

He looked a little disappointed, but let the matter drop, as he grabbed the DVD and prepared to head out. In the free world, I had swam in silence for too long, and if I stayed quiet much longer, he would drift sadly away and it would be too late.

Could I muster up the courage to say something now? Would it be as easy as just clicking on myself in the free world, pulling myself over to where he was swimming, touching him, and seeing us leave the shades and swim up to the surface together? I could do that, but was I ready to let someone else in? Should I just snag him now, or could I just survive on my own for today, and see what happened later?

How would the poem end?

free world
full of beauty
today I swim
until you come

or

free world
full of beauty
today I swim
better by myself

But whichever one I picked, whether I let him go or snagged him, it was okay. I had stood up to the shades, I had allowed my head to clear of the scary thoughts, and I had done it by simply willing it, by not waiting for something to come along and pull me out without my doing anything, by not letting the world run me over and trying to ignore it. And now, I wasn't feeling the insane desperation or loneliness. I didn't need to be saved. So, even if I remained by myself now, I still had something I had never dreamed of before.

I had a choice.

82 Comments

Wisedude Author Profile Page May 6, 2009 12:41 AM

Really cool, liked the alternate endings. It had drama, and power, and many other things, both fantastic and grand. I love art games.

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Simply amazing!
Completely worth the trip. :)

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Andrewsad1 May 6, 2009 12:44 AM

I don't get how to get anything other than shine

hold a jelly fish and keep it away from sharks

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Beautiful. How many endings are there?

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I've found two so far.

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amazing game. i really enjoy the art style of this along with the majesty of colors as well as i wish i were the moon. the music is good and overall a fun artistic experience

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About the jelly fish:

Keep the jelly fish off the sharks - then you mess with the words

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ElliotM Author Profile Page May 6, 2009 1:33 AM

This is really neat once you discover how to interact with whats on the screen.

Especially with how you can change the poem.

This is the poem from the ending I got:

free world
full of beauty
today I swim
until you come

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Hmm, I am trying to find out how get a different ending.

I got one complete ending, with the final poem being:

Free world
Full of beauty
today I swim
until you come

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CommanderJim May 6, 2009 1:36 AM

I can only find the ending in which

she goes off with the guy. ("free world full of beauty / today i swim / until you come")

What else is there?

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Here's another:

Free world
Full of beauty
today I swim
Better alone

Should be fairly obvious how to trigger it.

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Dr Pangloss May 6, 2009 2:28 AM

So beautiful! This proves that you don't need eye candy to make a great game.

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lasmich Author Profile Page May 6, 2009 2:51 AM

I can't find anything... i only get the sharks kill som jelly...

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SkyBloodFox May 6, 2009 3:46 AM

This is probably a stupid question, but how do I start? All I have is a greyish screen with nothing in it.

Help??

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Dragoon May 6, 2009 3:48 AM

I need a walkthrough.

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Here's one more...

Free world
Full of beauty
today I swim
Better by myself

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@energythief, it's

Better by myself.

I'm trying to find other endings but I can only find those two "happy" ones.

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Dragoon, experiment a bit.

If you really need a walkthrough:

- Hold the squid and run away from fish with it until the word "shine" shows up in yellow

- exchange "die" with "shine"

- exchange "dead" with "dark"

- use the shining girl to scare away the clouds

- pull out the dead girl from the bottom (be sure to have her in the light radius)

- exchange "shine" with "swim"

- exchange "dark" with "painful"

- exchange "swim" with "shine"

- catch five bubbles. Build a shield around the girl with them

- exchange "shine" with "swim". Wait a bit.

- exchange "painful" with "free"

- kill all shadows

- exchange "shades" with "beauty"

- pick up all the beauties

- now either mingle with the dude or not. Your pick.

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cheeken Author Profile Page May 6, 2009 7:18 AM

Totally flippin' awesome.

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ottoman Author Profile Page May 6, 2009 7:39 AM

This game is beautiful and poignant. A pleasure.

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(Free/dark) world full of beauty today I swim.
I'm stuck.

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DylPickle Author Profile Page May 6, 2009 8:03 AM

There seems to be a section that doesn't show up for me. At the very bottom, I can't move down past a certain area. Does anyone else have that problem?

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Birdieball Author Profile Page May 6, 2009 11:30 AM

Loved it. A wonderful diversion.

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So beautiful and poetic! This is art.

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This was just at the right level of difficulty for me. I started with a long period of "what the heck, can't do anything!", then was able to move a few things, then something clicked and it all made sense. I think that was the feeling the creator wanted, poetic in its own way.

I'll have to disagree with the pixel graphic choice, though. I find it somewhat distracting. I think one can be abstract without being crude looking, and prettier artwork would contribute to the feeling of the game more, imho.

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awesome game

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SkyBloodFox May 6, 2009 2:33 PM

I still can't get it to run! Even using a different computer (and I've checked using IE to FF), and it still does not run!

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muddgirl Author Profile Page May 6, 2009 5:05 PM

SkyBloodFox: I can't get it to run either. I'm pretty sure I have complete updates to both flash and java so I am a sad panda :(

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Thought-provoking and pretty.

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Dr. Worm Author Profile Page May 6, 2009 5:42 PM

I really enjoyed this. Short but sweet and it has a lot of charm. I got the same ending that OfficiallyHaphazard got. Now I shall go forth and find more! :D

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I think some endings have to do with the third line being "Today I shine" at the end.

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ganondox May 6, 2009 6:03 PM

The dead world reminded me of the ninth gate from sabriel/Abhorsen:green, death,lights,water...

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Wisedude Author Profile Page May 6, 2009 6:07 PM

@Reece

Nope, the final line can't be "Today I shine" at the end of the game. When you replace "painful" with "beautiful" shin is destroyed.

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You know, maybe I'm being a bit picky, but I thought the whole experience was a little lacking. I loved I Wish I Were the Moon, and I'm all for exploring narrative in games, but - I don't know - I think this one falls a little short in presentation and I think it could have been done better.

I love Daniel's pixel graphics, the character's eyes are always so expressive somehow, but I really didn't like his blending of pixels with sharp color contrasts with anti-aliased text and gradient backgrounds. It doesn't feel like he ever really settles down on a certain style. The thing that surprises me here is that he actually adheres to rules of pixel in moving the characters (when you drag the characters around, they will snap into position as if the different pixels are actually lighting up) which makes his choice of test and background even stranger.

Furthermore, I found the music a little bit off-putting. I'm not really sure why, but it struck me as a bit cheesy and overblown. One thing that contributed to this is the fact that most of the time, the piano sounds more like a keyboard emulating a piano than a real piano, but I don't think most players would pick up on this.

I just hope the presentation in his next game is a more cohesive experience. It was a bit jarring here, and the game really suffers for it.

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Anonymous May 6, 2009 7:00 PM

Hey, I have the same problem with my screen being just a dull, greenish grey. Is there something we're missing?

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Lovely. I hope this statement "Somewhere, a budding game designer is playing Today I Die, brain suddenly burning with the possibilities" is absolutely true.
I love games where written word becomes a part of the story.
I think I'll play it a third time. Just because I can.

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Aww. The MIDI-sounding music actually works with the pixelated characters, which is where the player's view is supposed to be focused. The backgrounds and their more modern-looking gradients are helpful with the settings, but aren't meant to look out of place.

I couldn't help but think of a similar concept as in I Wish I Were the Moon...

"today I swim Better with you/Until you come". Why to the endings to both of these relate to painful ends of relationships? Or am I just putting too much emphasis on how "better" sounds more positive than "until"?

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bubbleskirt May 7, 2009 12:30 AM

i loooove it! i'm a fan of his works.
it's so unique and meaningful
are there only two endings?

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LaloLanda May 7, 2009 12:46 AM

wow. i went to college together with Daniel, the game creator, here in Argentina. We since went separate ways, but I clearly recall a conversation we had about 2 years ago about him trying to redefine the way a game is meant to be played. And boy, what a lovely execution to the idea this is!

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Have no idea how this is a game. Have no idea how people see this as a game. Art, yes. Game, no. Check out some real art by Van Gogh or Monet (pronounced mo/nay) if you are interested in real art.

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@DC,

wikipedia called. They want your picture to accompany "snobbery" and "pretenciousness" articles.

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Catt312 Author Profile Page May 7, 2009 4:33 AM

If anyone's having problems with not being abe to see the bottom of the game screen: zoom out!

I had the same problem.

Enjoyed the game, and I like the music.

Can only find the 2 endings though...

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What an amazing game !!

I was really moved when I finished the game.

I'll share it with my friends !

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DC, first explain what a game IS, and then us unenlightened mortals will also be able to tell what makes the grade and what doesn't.

I'm actually surprised that you would disqualify this for "game" status but claim that it is a kind of art.

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Don't forget the incredibly necessary explanation on how to pronounce Monet. I was sure it was pronounced "Mooney", but luckily there are people much smarter then me to put me on the right track.

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fuzzyface Author Profile Page May 7, 2009 11:47 AM

I loved this game,

both a nice explorative game,

and shows you can make so much more with flash than the usual mindless 1000ooo... incarnation of game "x".

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fuzzyface Author Profile Page May 7, 2009 11:57 AM

Oh yes, I really want a definition of "game".

Tell me any definition and I'll show you an example that defies that definition.

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Robynthegeek Author Profile Page May 7, 2009 6:55 PM

@ DC,
Just recall what people said about "Mo-nay" and Van Gogh in their lifetimes. What was then reviled for bold color and disregard for a strict linear interpretation is now known as the foundation of modern art.

The definition of art changes radically over time.

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loversrequiem Author Profile Page May 8, 2009 9:57 AM

ooh, that is so beautiful. simply amazing...

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According to Firefox, "Ludomancy.com" may not exist! :(

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This game is so beautiful. In my opinion, I prefer it to the Majesty of Colours, which I enjoyed, but didn't really get the meaning. I think this has a much stronger meaning, it's sad and brilliant at the same time. Keep suggesting interactive art people! I'll do it if I find some as well! And please carry on reviewing interactive art Jayisgames, because although some here say they are stupid and not games, most of them are so amazing and really make my, and probably other peoples', day!

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The three endings I found were

until you come
better alone
and
better by myself

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How did you get alone AND by myself?

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brokenrecord Author Profile Page May 13, 2009 10:57 PM

Awww. I got "Free world full of beauty today I swim until you come." :)

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Ok, it works on AOL. I got the ending

Free World
Full of Beauty
Today I Swim
Until You Come

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Chloe95 Author Profile Page May 18, 2009 12:37 AM

AWESOME GAME! this is so unusual. At first, I didn't get it... but I read some spoilers and I think it was pretty good

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great idea :) something different, less playing, more interacting, very optimistic in the end, though depressing and... so true!

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flowerdoggie Author Profile Page May 25, 2009 8:07 PM

I love this game and strongly disagree with captain_404. It's sad, beautiful, simple, poetic, and romantic all rolled into one!

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flowerdoggie Author Profile Page May 27, 2009 6:15 PM

How can anyone need spoilers? this is so easy to figure out! I think I'll go play it for the sixth time.

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Sylocat June 9, 2009 5:29 PM

Well, the game is a little too easy to need a walkthrough, so here's a narrative-through, with my own interpretation of the plot (apologies to Daniel Benmergui if I'm completely wrong)...

THE STORY

Ugh... my life. What isn't boring is painful. There's nothing to do and no time to do it, I'm too shy to make friends, mom and dad are always pestering me about my grades (as if anything in high school is going to be useful in the real world), and the one boy I like (who lives right next frickin' door) doesn't even know I exist.

I was just sleepwalking these days, trying to let all the bad stuff just roll right over me, to ignore it, to not feel anything as life tossed me around like a stupid, helpless ragdoll.

So, one day I got home from school, just like every other day, and trudged up to my room. I took out a little journal in my nightstand. I hadn't written for a long time, I used to love it, I'd close my eyes and imagine fantastic worlds, but the last couple years I hadn't had the energy.

EMILY'S POETRY JOURNAL, the thing said in that stupid, cutesy little flowery script on the cover. Dang, this thing was old. I was a little embarrassed to be writing in it, but the way I felt right now, nothing mattered. I just let myself regress, to feel that power once again.

THE POEM

When I was a kid, I'd imagine unicorns, fairyland and harps. Now, all I could picture was an ocean, a ball and chain wrapped around me dragging me down to the depths. The words flowed out of my mind, and all I could write was...

dead world
full of shades
today I die

That's what started it all.

dead world
full of shades
today I die

Around me drifted two dark fish with glowing eyes, and a bunch of pale yellow jellyfish. I couldn't move my arms or legs, but I felt an invisible hand could pull stuff around at my command, almost like the cursor of a mouse. The dream logic in full effect. I could move the jellyfish, the dark fish, and me.

I found I'd written two words below it, on the page, "dark" and "painful." I wondered what I'd created, so I mentally dragged the word "dark" up to where the word "dead" was, to make them switch places.

dark world
full of shades
today I die

I imagined an undersea cavern, with a bunch of dust clouds gathered around some hidden thing at the bottom. As tired and worn out as I was, I couldn't even move them.

This was the world where I could seal myself away from the world, allowing nothing out or in.

Then I dragged the word "painful" over the word dark, and entered the painful world, expecting pain to wash over me.

painful world
full of shades
today I die

No pain, not directly. Just five shadows in a circle, their eyes closed. I could move them, but there didn't seem much point.

All of these shades, they were memories, memories of the things I was going through, all the people in my life I resented. This was the painful world, the world where I sat on my bed, staring at the ceiling, and moping, replaying all the bad moments from my days.

I dragged the word "dead" over the word "painful," and returned to the dead world.

dead world
full of shades
today I die

The dead world was waiting for me. I drifted down again, feeling the depths flowing up to crush me. I idly clicked on one of the jellyfish, expecting a jolt, perhaps to trigger me awake.

But no, when I held the jellyfish, something strange happened. It started to glow. And as it slowly glowed brighter the longer I held it, an idea came into focus above it. It slowly grew clearer, I imagined its glow breaking the shadows away, shielding me, protecting me.

On the page beneath the poem, I began to write the word S... H... I... N...

But then the bad thoughts came rushing back in the form of the two dark fish, that swooped up and killed the poor thing.

My eyes closed again. Nothing could stop the pain. I couldn't even imagine victory.

But something possessed me. Some fire, some righteous anger, some burning desire to grasp that light again. And somehow I resolved to not let those horrible thoughts stop me.

As the jellyfish drifted away, it came back on the other side of the field, alive once again. I picked up another one, held it, and this time, as the dark fish came for it, I yanked it away, moving it all around the field to keep it away from them. It might have taken a couple tries, but eventually I did it, and it released the idea. I wrote the letter E on the page of my journal, and now the word SHINE appeared in front of me, in this abyss.

I picked up that word, and the word "die" lit up in that same golden color. Putting all of my concentration and willpower into this new positive thinking, I dragged "shine" over the last word of the poem, and the word "die" disappeared, banished from my page forever.

dead world
full of shades
today I shine

The glow surrounded me, now. I was no longer falling, I floated, drifting in one spot, shining, no longer wet, able to breathe again, even in this nightmarish world. I moved myself around and found that my aura now repelled the shadow fish. And what's more, all those jellyfish began to glow as well. The evil fish, overwhelmed by the glow, fled off the field.

I was excited, a feeling I had not felt in ages. I moved up the word "dark" again, and wondered if the shades there would respond this time.

dark world
full of shades
today I shine

The dead world disappeared just like the dying had, leaving me in that undersea cavern. I moved down again, and this time the clouds moved away at my approach, revealing something stuck in the sand. Power coursing through me, I lifted the thing easily, and saw it was a statue. A statue of me, swimming upwards, evading the shades from the painful world.

Swimming?

A new idea came to me. The shining protected me, but I had to use so much willpower and concentration that it was keeping me in one place. Perhaps I could drop my guard long enough to escape?

I wrote the word "swim" on my journal page, and it appeared in front of me in the cavern, resting atop the statue. I drifted close to illuminate it, plucked it, and replaced SHINE with SWIM.

dark world
full of shades
today I swim

I launched myself upwards, the ball and chain now feeling light as a feather around me. But the cavern ceiling was in the way. I was illuminating the dark world, but seeing its limitations as well.

The dead world was gone, so there was only one recourse. I would brave the painful world.

painful world
full of shades
today I swim

There was no ceiling here. I swam upwards. Above me I could see the faint outline of a concept, an idea, a place where I could escape to.

Could I be thinking of a free world? How could...

But then the shades opened their eyes, and swam towards me. The demons, the mental avatars of all the people who made me unhappy, they attacked, the memories rushed back, and they dragged me down. I heard a dangerous sound pounding through my ears, as my newfound courage threatened to shatter.

In panic, I dragged the word "shine" up, in a desperate attempt to repel them. And it worked, they were pushed away. But their eyes were still open, still staring at me, still threatening to push me down further if I took one step out of the wall I had built around myself.

Had I written myself into a corner?

painful world
full of shades
today I shine

As I wondered what to do, I saw some flashes of light below me. Something was drifting up, some bubbles. I swooped down to touch one before it could hit a shade and pop, and as it grew, it showed me a vignette of a happy memory, one of the few nice moments that had been sprinkled across the long eons of my years here.

I searched the recesses of my memory, visualized by my diving for more of these bubbles. I seized and grew five of them. The light given off by them repelled the shades as well.

I arranged them in a circle around me. With them, I wouldn't need to focus on an artificial happiness to beat the demons.

I replaced SHINE with SWIM once again.

painful world
full of shades
today I swim
.

This time, the shades were repelled by the memories. The few happy ones were now enough to get me through the bad times.

And as I swam, I slowly wrote the word FREE on the journal page, as it slowly came into focus above me. Once it turned the color of validity, I replaced the word "painful" with it.

A miracle happened. The word "shine" vanished, since I no longer needed its artificial power, but now I shone all on my own, without it.

And the dark and painful worlds vanished.

free world
full of shades
today I swim

I was now above the dead world, near the surface of the ocean, ready at any moment to break the surface, to be free.

I was scared when the bubbles disappeared, but now the shades didn't approach. I was shining on my own now, and they looked sad, defeated.

I seized each one and brought it close, imprisoning it in a bubble. The bubbles were happy thoughts, even about these people who were the source of so much pain.

And as I did so, a new word was written, slowly appearing above me. I only needed four, for some reason, but I could use five as well.

And once this word appeared, and all the shades were trapped in bubbles, I dragged this new word up to replace the defeated shades.

free world
full of beauty
today I swim

I watched the happy memories engulf the shades, and turned the dark shadows into shining golden gems.

I gathered them up, them sticking together into a shining golden bundle. I held all of them close, cuddling them, loving them

I was interrupted by the doorbell ringing downstairs. I was jolted out of the free world, but even as I went down to answer it, part of me still remained there, picturing it, interpreting everything going on now as part of my dream, letting the world back in.

I answered the door, and there stood Justin, the boy next door. I caught my breath. In the real world, he said he'd come by to borrow a DVD, but in the free world, he was swimming as well, and had been drawn over by the shining light of the golden shades in my collection.

In the real world, he looked at me oddly, like he saw something different about me. I thought it was just part of the dream, but then he asked what was going on, saying that he hadn't seen me look so cheerful in a long time.

I wasn't dreaming. I didn't know what to say, I stammered out an assurance that nothing had happened, that I didn't know what he was talking about.

He looked a little disappointed, but let the matter drop, as he grabbed the DVD and prepared to head out. In the free world, I had swam in silence for too long, and if I stayed quiet much longer, he would drift sadly away and it would be too late.

Could I muster up the courage to say something now? Would it be as easy as just clicking on myself in the free world, pulling myself over to where he was swimming, touching him, and seeing us leave the shades and swim up to the surface together? I could do that, but was I ready to let someone else in? Should I just snag him now, or could I just survive on my own for today, and see what happened later?

How would the poem end?

free world
full of beauty
today I swim
until you come

or

free world
full of beauty
today I swim
better by myself

But whichever one I picked, whether I let him go or snagged him, it was okay. I had stood up to the shades, I had allowed my head to clear of the scary thoughts, and I had done it by simply willing it, by not waiting for something to come along and pull me out without my doing anything, by not letting the world run me over and trying to ignore it. And now, I wasn't feeling the insane desperation or loneliness. I didn't need to be saved. So, even if I remained by myself now, I still had something I had never dreamed of before.

I had a choice.

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radacoin June 16, 2009 5:16 PM

when you enter the painful world and the music changes and the shades grab you i was legitimately scared. the mood and tone of this game are perfect. its so simple yet so effective, at the end i really felt like i had conquered some dark force, which is more than i can say for 90% of commercial games that come out these days.

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Nice interpretation, Sylocat. It does blend itself to a lot of realism, and very interesting to see how this interpretation allows itself to let people think back on their own lives.

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private June 19, 2009 7:24 PM

sylocat:

What an amazing narrative!

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i LOVE this game so mutch. i just keep playing it again and again. its just so lovely. and i realy like the little MS Paint style Pixle Graphics. so simple yet works so well for this :)

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aww sylo your walkthrough made me cry:')

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funnybunny Author Profile Page July 27, 2009 5:40 PM

I love the narrative you made for this short game. Now I understand that we're the ones that should write the story of this game.

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i got free world full of beauty today i swim until you come

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a little off topic, but does anyone remember the name of a game where your girlfriend leaves you and you have to bring her a star to get her back. however, in getting the star the game tricks you into committing suicide. i have searched but i cant find it anywhere... any help would be great

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thats the one. ;) thanks psychotronic

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PandaKnight Author Profile Page August 6, 2009 4:04 AM

Watching the "evolution" of the poem was an absolutely fascinating experience. This is a hell of a game....

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Okay, that was just immensely charming and heartwarming.
I lack words...
Huzzah.

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Really Fun to play!!! :) it's quite hard at the end :)

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How do you get better alone?

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Cassandra November 8, 2009 4:12 PM

The only one I found was

free world today I swim until you come

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I loved "Today I Die." It proves that life can bring happy endings, and it brings a blessing even if we're too blind to see it. It was absolutely awesome.

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I got:
Free world
Full of beauty
Today I swim
Until you come...

I also got the other one:
Free world
Full of beauty
Today I swim
Better by myself.

Is there a third one? I loved the game. Whoever made it, you are really symbolic. This kind of reminds me of my life a few years ago. You are really good at representing all of us. You are so awesome at this!

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I loved this. So sweet and hopeful. We need more games like this one.

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A month ago when I first played this, I was so frustrated because I knew what to do, but the shades found their way in through the gaps in the bubbles. Then I found out what to do just now.

Use 'shine' to get all the shades in one place, like one cardinal direction. Get them all above, all below, or all to one side. 4 bubbles make a shield, so make one between you & them. But any good warrior must not only defend with a stout shield, but ATTACK as well! So, use your last bubble as a weapon. When a shade starts to get around the edge of your shield, simply use the weapon-bubble to push him back ON THE SAME SIDE. The key is to not get surrounded, for that would seal your fate. NOW ENJOY THE ENDING :D

/ramble

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That was a beautiful interpretation :) Really something to implement. Thanks for writing it, because I honestly wouldn't have had the guts to break down the game like that. You made my day a lot brighter.

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InsanePenguin Author Profile Page August 16, 2011 3:25 AM

A funny note: It's actually possible to get "free" without bubbles, in the same manner as getting "shine". It's just rather difficult.

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I must say, even if the "walkthrough" is completely incorrect, it is still beautiful and fits the game perfectly.

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