Small Worlds


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Rating: 4.7/5 (1389 votes)
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DoraSmall WorldsEver wish you could just get away from it all? Then maybe you should give David Shute's itty-bitty exploration epic Small Worlds a try and discover what's waiting out there for you. Taking top prize in the 6th Casual Gameplay Design Competition, as well as the award for Audience Favourite and a prize from Armor Games is no small feat. Give it just fifteen minutes of your time and it may win you over, too.

"There is too much noise... " complains the otherwise silent protagonist. Perhaps an odd thing to say when you find yourself within the still remains of... a laboratory? A space station? Best of Casual Gameplay 2009You'll have to take the initiative and explore the area to find out. You can navigate with the [wasd] or [arrow] keys, tapping [up], [w], or [space] to jump. As you go, the map is slowly uncovered and the camera pulls back to reveal more... and more... and more.

There are five worlds to check out, and once you get past the first area, you can go through them in any order you wish. You're not under any constraints, so you can take your time and uncover every nook and cranny. Which you should do, since once you leave a world, you can't go back to it. Competition first place award winnerIf you just want to find everything each area has to offer you, avoid the beacons you'll find beckoning you onward until you've uncovered all the secrets you can.

Analysis: David Shute's oddly melancholic little game is a tricky one to discuss, mainly because so many people have different interpretations of the experience. And, in this case, how can you say one is right over all the others? The ability to explore the worlds at your own pace, and in any order, means there's no real cohesive narrative except for what you Competition audience award winnerinterpret from the scenery. Is our hero the last of his kind? A madman? A villain? Hard to say given that the worlds may not appear to have much in common with one another. Of course I have my own theories, but I doubt you came here to listen to my crazy tin-foil hat nonsense. (Have I talked to you lately about soylent green?) What I will say is that even if you just think of it as a bit of interactive art, Small Worlds is still one of the most unique and enjoyable gaming experiences I've had in a long time.

Small WorldsIt's easy to be underwhelmed by the simplistic look of Small Worlds' visuals upon encountering the first screen, and those who let themselves be put off by it are missing a real treat. As the worlds unfold through your explorations, the detail revealed in them is absolutely top notch. While some are more striking than others, you'll definitely want to explore every nook and cranny to really appreciate them. A big part of the journey is also the music by Kevin MacLeod, with each track helping to buoy your sense of wonder.

What can be frustrating is navigating the often uneven terrain by leaping around. Because the environments are so big and detailed, you'll spend a lot of time trying to navigate your way through them by jumping from place to place. It can be hard to judge distance, especially when the camera has pulled far out, and falling all the way back to the starting point is annoying. You can't die, but having to slowly pick your way back up to where you were happens more often than it should.

Whether or not Small Worlds winds up being a thoughtful experience for you or simply a bit of interactive art depends entirely on you. If you just think it's a clever mechanic, that's fine. If you think there's a deeper meaning behind it, that's fine too. While it doesn't offer much, if anything, in the realm of replay value, Small Worlds still manages to be striking in a short period of time. The perfect size to squeeze a bit of wonder into your day whenever you have time, Small Worlds is fun, beautiful, and definitely one of a kind. Just remember, it's a big world out there. Don't forget to explore it once in a while yourself.

Play Small Worlds

70 Comments

Dora, thank you so much for posting pictures. Since I never even got one world to open up enough to make any sense of it, I could not for the life of me figure out what the big deal was about this game. I asked and asked, but never got any real response. Now that I can see the pictures, I can see why people called it art. My 20 frustrating minutes of going back and forth, up and down with no result will probably keep me from trying again (I'm not a fan of platformers), but at least now I can see why the game won so much in this past competition.

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I hope David is generous in sharing some of the prize money with Kevin... just try playing this thing without the sound, and see just how much, er, smaller the worlds are for it.

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absolutely brilliant! i've never played anything like this before.

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I have a theory as to what happened.

I think that he is

the sole survivor of a nuclear war. In the one world where it's snowing, there is what appears to be a world map covered in blinking lights. There are also two missiles still in their silos, but the other silos are empty.

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the perfect balance of art and game ... thank you, it's been enriching!

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First of all: this is GREAT game, and I'm happy it won. Yay for the author.

Then, to all the people wondering about "the meaning"... Did you actually watch the title sequence and the ending one?

I don't really think it has an actual story - more an atmosphere you're supposed to explore - but my best bet is:

One guy in a space station had to watch as the people in the underground launch facility unleashed armageddon upon the world - maybe while trying to kill some monstrous creature (we see the remains in the "blue" world). There has been some problem on the space station, as we can see from the cracked domes and such, but now the teleporters are back online and our guy can check out what has happened on Earth.
Unfortunately nobody remains, not even the monster. Only some machinery is still going, but the ecosystem is doomed, as the water supply is obviously polluted by green radioactive stuff. The once luxuriant planet is no more: its last beauty is a Christmas-like snowfall which is actually nuclear ashes fallout.
Humanity had a mining colony on an asteroid belt, but even that is now gone. So, to keep the voices (of the dead ones?) in his head quiet, our guy does the only possible thing and jumps with his escape pod right into the sun, maybe restarting a cycle.

Or it is a very very nice experimental game. You pick.

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I like to think that Mr. Red was observing these four worlds, and when each of them failed for different reasons (Pollution, Nuclear War, No livable land, Being stuck inside an ugly purple thing), he decided to end the experiment and move on to a different galaxy to continue his experiments elsewhere. First, however, he had to reclaim his observation orbs from each of the worlds, so he can reuse them for the next ecosystems he works with.

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Splendid! Love these experimental pieces that create a whole new world - in this case, quite literally.

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@ OfficiallyHaphazard: interesting interpretation... especially yours is the first one I've read that tried to explain the orbs we have to look for in each level XD

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and as a game of exploration... I feel the two pictures in the review should be under spoiler alerts... Although I guess that'd be weird.. and it does look very nice and appealing =P

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Doesn't seem to work for me... Only a black rectangle turns up, with not a trace of a flash program in my browser window (FF 3.5.3).

[Edit: This is most likely a browser extension conflict. Try disabling your extensions until you find the culprit. -Jay]

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Chiktionary Author Profile Page November 10, 2009 6:06 PM

The platform element to Small Worlds put me off quickly during the competition, but now happy to say I've played the whole game. Music was beautiful, and really added to the atmosphere of each small world. I don't know that interpretation is needed, it's nice to be able to excercise the imagination. But in saying that, here's my take:

Mother Nature has been killed in her sleep, and it is imperative for mankind to construct underground machinery in order to maintain the cycle of seasons and ultimately the precipitation of water.
Sadly, the new sciences of stem cell research, biomechanics and genetic engineering have created the unholiest of unholies, and essentially, mankind's attempts to prevent annihilation have resulted in the end of civilisation itself. Before joining the vessel of survivors, one of the few remaining sentient beings traverses the silence and wonders where it all went wrong...

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Very beautiful game! Deserves to win in my opinion. And great music too.

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This was my top pick and I'm so glad it won. But I have to say again, I really wish there was a save game feature.

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atomic1fire Author Profile Page November 10, 2009 6:26 PM

My initial interpretation is that you are nothing more then a explorer (exploring the universe), but its entirely possible that this is a doomsday scenario, I mean

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atomic1fire Author Profile Page November 10, 2009 6:28 PM

its not totally farfetched
(clicked submit too early, this place needs an edit button)

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I absolutely enjoyed every second of playing this game. What really cinched it for me was the music. It put more personality into the simple pixels.
I actually played a second time through just to fully explore the maps and to listen to the music again!

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Awesome game! ...just wish it was longer. Maybe a sequel? [^_^]

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It's wonderful! I had my doubts at first, but after everything got clear it really was beautiful.

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The replay value allows you to play it twice (both times uncovering all the worlds) and the music really adds to the ambiance of the whole thing.

Escaping to space, our hero, a general in charge of the United Peoples' Army, may have outran the unwanted war, but at what cost? The solar powered ship that he held his base of operations on, conducting meetings via teleporter transport, are no longer in any use now that everyone is gone.He slowly starts to lose his mind, knowing that his friends, his family, his country is all dead. He has never dared to venture down to earth, but to collect the necessary power cells needed to fly the escape pod, he must. Down on earth, he knows what he is going to find. Carcasses of horrible engineered monsters, monsters that he helped to create, designed to fight wars and demolish cities. Cities so overgrown with vegetation that they are almost unrecognizable, but still navigable. Bomb shelters and nuclear missile launchers that have suffered the longest-lasting damage-nuclear winters that could go on for decades. But the worst part is the cities. Once mans greatest achievement, buildings built to touch the sky, are now riddled with holes and so covered up in debris that no buildings are any longer habitable. Not that anyone would live in them anyway. Any people who were not killed by the monsters and nuclear missiles soon died from famine, disease, and radiation poisoning. So many nuclear attacks had been made that Earth's source of life, its' many oceans and streams and lakes, were now poisoned by a radioactive green sludge that seeped from every building left standing. An engineered virus that went horribly wrong. When our hero returns to his ship, knowing once in for all that everyone on earth had died because of a war that he helped create, what else is left for him to do? He detaches his escape pod and flies directly into the sun.

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Obviously a successor of the idea behind Knytt. (Can't go wrong with that.) Great imagery and music. It's simplicity is very well done.

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Congrats. I now copy my original comment.

I finally remembered that my username is not the same as my display name. Doi.

This was a very well made game, but it is surprisingly dark.

VERY DARK.

My very dark interpretation that is similar but may be darker and more fleshed out then everyone else's.

Before this game a colony of humans left the earth ( and the solar system. Ultimately the colony failed. The sole survivor returned to are solar system looking for hope her on earth. He finds an abandoned space station and is curious. Inside he finds 4 teleporters.

White:

A nuclear silo under a mountain during a nuclear winter. Most of mankind died in a nuclear war.

Red:

A village that wanted to avoid the war and went back to a more primitive live style. Unfortunately, a nearby city polluted its water and killed them. All humans on earth died.

Blue:

The corpse of a giant alien. The humans that left earth died in a war with aliens. That's the best I can get from this.

Green:

It appears to be a destroyed planet or moon. I have no idea what to make of this.

The man suddenly comes to the haunting conclusion that he is the last human. He then commits suicide by flying into the sun, extincting humanity. Sweet dreams!

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Woah, woah, woah. I put forward an interesting suggestion to you all: Who said those glowing light beam thingys were teleporters?

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TinyToaster November 11, 2009 12:48 AM

For me, figuring out the story wasn't as important as figuring out how exploration was used as the primary theme of the game.

In this game, exploration is sort of a placeholder for the general idea of discovery. Let's say that the camera--the view available to the player at any given time--is representative of the mind. In the beginning, there's not a whole lot there; you're limited by the things you already know. In the effort to broaden your horizons, you go out to discover new things, learn more about the world. As you do, your mind begins to grow.

There's a few noticeable things that come about as a result of this. First, although you start off with a limited view, just a single piece of a larger puzzle, you gradually add more and more pieces to the puzzle until you have the full picture. Similarly, though you may not start off fully understanding something with the limited information you have, adding to that information will eventually allow you to understand the entire process for what it is. You go from seeing the tree to seeing the entire forest, as it were.

Second, as you explore the world, your character becomes smaller and smaller in proportion to the rest of the picture; similarly, as you learn more about the world, you start to realize how small you are in comparison to the rest of it.

But I think the main point the game is trying to get across is this: Once you've discovered something, you can't undiscover it. Once the player has come across those particularly morbid pieces of the map, you can't wipe them off the face of the map again. They're always going to be there, staring at you, even as you try to focus on exploring the rest of the level. And even once you've closed the game, you're probably not going to have forgotten that they're there. Kind of like when you make similarly morbid discoveries in real life, right?

(It's probably silly to spoiler this next bit since people have mentioned it several times already, but I'm going to anyway.)

This theme isn't just limited to the main character, though. Think about one of the morbid discoveries in particular: Namely, the nuclear missiles. A lot of people think that nuclear weapons should never have been invented. However, it wasn't specifically the intention of society to create them; it was largely a side effect of the pursuit of science. In the name of exploration, discovery, and just trying to understand more about the world, we happened to learn how to manipulate the laws of nature to create high-powered weapons. Unfortunately, now that this knowledge has been made available to the world we can't just get rid of it; we have no choice except to live with it, as an uncomfortable fact of reality.

For me, this game made quite a few comments on the idea of exploration, more than the other games in the competition did. But even putting the messages aside, it really managed to set a heavy atmosphere, even with such simple graphics. So yeah, I think it's pretty appropriate that this won the competition.

(As a side note, did anyone else get the feeling of stop-motion animation from the way the character moves around? That really enhanced the disturbing tone for me. Old-school stop-motion is creepy.)

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Robynthegeek Author Profile Page November 11, 2009 1:43 AM

A hint to make gameplay a bit easier on the eyes (and you'll make fewer mistakes) is to use the zoom function of your browser. It's very helpful on a small screen. You don't get quite the same view of your surroundings, but I used it a lot because I just couldn't see where I was jumping.

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Thanks, jay. Disabling adblock did the trick for me.

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Great game... Beautiful environments, excellent presentation, and awesome music by Kevin MacLeod (how does he do it every time?).

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Regarding the red level

I wonder if it was the power sourse itself that killed the creature. It certainly looks like the power source "drilled a circular hole through the creature and lodged itself in there.

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Supremely creepy, steeped in melancholy and rather beautiful. I'm neither a fan of obviously pixelated games nor platformers and I loved this. I also enjoyed reading everyones thoughts about the backstory. A deserving winner!

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"It's easy to be underwhelmed by the simplistic look of Small Worlds' visuals upon encountering the first screen"

Isn't it though?

"...and those who let themselves be put off by it are missing a real treat."

Oh well. These things happen

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There's one problem with the "Apocalypse" interpretation of the plot:

If he's the only person left, why would he say "There is too much noise?"

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By Noise... perhaps Radio Static, or the lack of communication?

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Cool game.

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@ Sylocat
Perhaps he's crazy.

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I really like this game.
But it's not 'just a game'. There's a kind of story behind it, a sad story.
About a war or something.

I read a book:the macanoscript.In the book happens something that also is like the game:
there fly ufo's over the world and al live is gone. just two persons survived.

the music makes the game even better. i give it 10/5!!!

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hm... After reading all the comments,maybe it was he that caused this apocalyptic situation. He said "There is too much noise."
So maybe he unleashed the nuclear missiles, he created the monster(mutation by radiation?), he polluted the cities, and he ultimately destroyed things to bits. So, after being lonely for so long, he realizes he is still making noise. And he ends that noise. Forever.
But, it is all a theory. But the game is sad. Solidly melancholy.

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I absolutely loved this game. The atmosphere, the depth, the music that goes so well with it all. My favorite world was the one with the carcass, which had very fitting music imo.

As for the meaning behind it, I don't think it tells us a story, but it shows us the many faces of death. We see barren space, where life is near-impossible, we see the death of a creature, vicious, but silent, we see the death of a city, which fell under its own pollution and at last we see death as a nuclear winter, where man destroyed himself, he didn't even have to use all the missiles he produced.
In shrill contrast with this is the space station, which is much more complex than the four places it sends you to. The station is life, there's too much noise, it's too busy. The station is filled with everything you need to stay alive, the antenna can be used for communication and tables (and possibly beds) can be seen throughout it, which depict food and sleep. But our little guy doesn't want this. He doesn't want to be in this busy place, he wants to find peace. And this peace can be found only in death.

PS: Also note that there are 4 glass domes that can be found around the station, but if you were to look through it, you would see nothing but darkness. If you want to see more, you have to go deeper into the station, where you can find 4 other 'windows'.

PPS: This may may sound a little far fetched, but I think the domes each represent a stage: the two smaller ones are the asteroids and the carcass, they're small cause it's hard to envision the vastness of space, or to position yourself in the creature's mind before it died. The two bigger ones are the two stages which are closer to us humans:
The broken dome is the nuclear winter. It's broken, nobody is fixing it. The damage is done because of a mistake from the past.
The other dome is the city stage. It sits there, slowly decaying, eroding, and nobody thinks there's anything wrong with it. This is what caused the downfall of the city when you visited it, they didn't know how much harm they were doing to themselves. It's also where you start, thereby telling us that this is the situation we're in. We're polluting our planet and will eventually leave behind an empty city, such as the one shown here.

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My interpretation:

The goddess created some worlds, but all they achieved was to start fighting with each other, and their only driving force seems to be to create better ways to kill. She is driven mad by the noise and retreats to a lonely facility to try to regain control of her senses. She sleeps for many centuries. Eventually she wakes (alone, as always) and sets out to see if any of her creations remain. There is only a small part of each world she created remaining, and she finds nothing but evidence of destruction. In despair that she could not create a more noble form of life, she takes the remaining seeds of worlds, and blasts herself with them into the sun.

The red person is clearly female, I don't know what you are all on about.

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Wow. I still love this game. Of course, I'm not a very deep thinker, so I have no idea what to make of its meaning, but I do love uncovering the different areas. My favorite is

The world with all the water. How the green liquid mixes with the rest of the city's water, and flows through the whole city. It's all very interesting, though.

I've enjoyed reading everyone else's theories, even if I have none of my own. :)
Great game, great idea, very glad to see that it did so well in the competition.

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I have not played a game this amazing in a long time! One of the best games I have played ever (including console games)! I only wish there was a little something more to it. Cant say what though.

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You know, somehow playing this game made me think of Chrono Trigger, not entirely sure why.

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Steakhouse Author Profile Page December 4, 2009 12:28 AM

My theory:

The game is about the concept of Exogenesis, i.e. the theory that life on Earth has been transferred there from somewhere else.
Our character was part of a science team from a distant planet. They came up with some technology to create life on other planets (the orbs). When their planet started to near its end (global war or something) they were sent out to spread their race to other planets. They chose 4 planets where they placed their life devices and then went into artificial coma for a long time to see how the planets would evolve.

After awakening they checked out the planets and saw that the people on each of the planets managed to destroy themselves through war (=alien carcass), pollution (=city with green goo), nuclear weapons (=snow world) and exploting nature (=planet broken to pieces).

They realize that there is no point in spreading their race, because eventually every new population would destroy itself anyways. They all commit suidice and the player character is sent on a last mission to retrieve the life devices from each planet, after which he kills himself.

I know, there's not much evidence in the game to back this up but I like it. ^__^

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heres what i's think's:

the things arent teleporters, they are virtual stimulators. he goes into them and sees different possibles fates and thinks about how thess will eventually and then shoots himslef into the SUN

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All these interpretations have merit; all but Katherine's post. Katherine, was that sarcasm, or are you really THAT feminist? It made me laugh either way!

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I'm surprised that this is still the most top-rated game here at JIG... granted, though, I guess having 3000+ votes and still being 4.9 really helps.

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It was a great game! Quite enjoyable and er... interesting (this word can't quite describe it accurately, but it's close enough).

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Vertigobee Author Profile Page January 21, 2010 5:06 AM

There are some great theories here! It's nice to see so many people paying attention to details.

Not many people seem to think that the "noise" could simply be the alarm. The dome on the space station is busted, and the blinking red light and "noise" indicate that air is seeping out. The little red guy has to explore to see if he can find a more habitable place - but he can't. His last option is to try the escape pod, which is of course hopeless.

I like the idea that we have all the time we want to explore each world, but the little red guy's need for safety is probably urgent.

I would also like to think that dead monster and glowing light worlds are maybe a bit more metaphorical than the poisoned water and nuclear winter worlds. The monster could represent man's self destruction; the light could be a kind of heaven.

Anyway, it's a lovely game, worth replaying!

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my take on the game was

that the man was looking at certain planets that had been destroyed by humans. earth got polluted.earth 2 got destroyed by nuclear winter.earth 3 got destroyed by an alien eating them all then the alien dies.and earth 4 gets destroyed by erosion on the inside so he needs to tell earth about this so he gets information discs from each planet and goes to fly to earth but he accidentally flies into the sun and gets destroyed with the information

that's what i think

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The style of the game reminded me a lot of a cross stitch picture, especially after you zoom out a lot.

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Awesome game...
Beautiful and heartbreaking.

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I think it's an amazing game, make sure you play it with the sound on. Also, "too much noise" - the space station sounds pretty noisy to me.

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I may be the only one that actually disliked this game it seems :)
Never been a fan of interactive art genre, since they really aren't games. I'll always be againist flash works that blatantly try to be "artistical" by removing every gaming aspect. Jumping around isn't really my idea of entertainment.
Disappointed.

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Here's my (first person)take on the story:

It was March 30, 2030 when the message came. I had been up in the station for the past four years, monitoring the outer rings of the solar system for comets that could have been dangerous to Earth. After a strange meteor had passed my ship, my transmission had been cut off and my station damaged. I remember my heart pounding with excitement when I responded. Before I could say a word, however, a man spoke to me in a rasping voice. The transmission was choppy, but I understood him well enough.

"The creature came...we attacked. Nuclear war...pollution took over...I- I activated the teleporters...collect the memory orbs...flee...you're- you're our only hope..."

At this, the transmission ended. My heart sank. What did he mean, "The creature came"? Could that meteor have been...?

I shook my head. There was a procedure that I had been taught, that everyone in the military had been taught. In case of catastrophe, visit Earth and collect the memory orbs. The memory orbs contained all memory of our race and always hid in the places with the most important information. These were to be frozen for light travel in order to establish human societies on other planets by convincing aliens to raise the DNA encased in these orbs. How exactly they worked was a great secret, as it seemed quite silly to expect aliens to raise another species. That, however, was no concern of mine.

I began descending. It was quite a walk down to the teleporters. The scenery was majestic, but it was impossible to appreciate. Could everyone really be gone?

Finally, I reached the teleporters. There were four of them there, each with its own color. I closed my eyes and spun in a circle, and found myself facing the white one.

"White it is," I muttered to myself. The silence was deafening. The thoughts nagging at the back of my head created too much noise.

I stepped into the portal. My head spun for a moment, and in a flash I was somewhere else.

There was snow everywhere. I climbed through icy caves, feeling more alone than I ever had. Where had everyone gone? Then, I saw something that no one should ever see, should ever have to endure.

Missile silos. And two of them were empty.

Horror flooded through me. How could we have done this? Even if the missiles had killed the monster, the radiation would have destroyed our environment. But surely...

I shook off the urge to faint, and trudged on. I climbed higher and higher on the snowy peaks, and finally spotted the memory orb.

It was a shimmering blue sphere about the size of my head. As I took it in my hands, memories flooded my mind for an instant, memories of war. The creature had come, and panic had ensued. The creature did not attack: at least, not until we attacked it. It bellowed tremendously, and began to come forward. Blackness came over me. When I awoke again, I was in the lab. We hadn't given the beast a fair chance. Now it was over.

But I couldn't give up hope now. I had to go on. I climbed up the small ledge and walked into the green teleporter.

I was instantly blinded by a bright light coming from far away. I was in a clearing filled with floating rocks. I was astounded! They hovered peacefully, as if nothing was wrong. I began to climb.

Finally, I reached the top. There was another memory orb glimmering in the light like a diamond. I clasped it in my hands.

My mind was filled with explosive light as the shockwaves from the nuclear missile hit the clearing. The rocks were blasted into the air. Screams echoed in my ears. The rocks were hanging in midair, as if holding their breath. With a start, I opened my eyes, and I was back in my station. I climbed into the next teleporter. This one was blue.

The sound of gurgling water met my ears. There was the foul stench of death in the air. I began to explore.

It was a decaying city powered entirely by water. I wondered where everyone had gone. Then I saw it.

There was radioactive liquid oozing from every nook and cranny. The water was tinted green by it. I thought fleetingly of stopping it up, but what good was it? There was no one left to save.

I thought desolate thoughts as I touched the memory orb. Nothing mattered any more.

I saw exactly what I had just seen: radioactive ooze leaking out of buildings. Anyone who wasn't killed by the initial shock died of radiation poisoning soon after. A second later, I was in the lab. Only one memory orb remained. I entered the red teleporter.

I was inside a creature the likes of which you cannot imagine. It had been stabbed in many places and dried blood was everywhere. The stench of rotting flesh was overpowering. I crawled through its carcass, seething with anger. And yet I could not help but pity the beast, for it was the folly of man that led to the end. The end of everything. Besides, what good was hating it? Nothing mattered anymore. Nothing was worth living for. I touched the last memory orb without feeling, without caring. It was all over.

I felt a stab of immeasurable regret as I watched the explosion. I opened my eyes to the station. It was time to finish things.

Man did not deserve to live. I was bruised and scraped from my travels, and my red dress was in shreds. It didn't matter. If the memory orbs started life again, history would only repeat itself. Now I press the drive overload button. Destination: the sun. Mankind will never rise again. History will never have a chance to repeat itself. It is the time for silence.

You can call me feminist, but I still think that the red outfit looks like a dress.

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Sorry. That last post really was too long.

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Wow, just...wow. My own thoughts (heavily influenced by Willow's), from my point of view if I were the character:

I am our race's Memory Keeper. I live, secluded, on a space station. If anything goes wrong, I have a portal to each of the worlds we have created at my disposal. Suddenly, while I was having my dinner, I heard general chaos, sounds that appeared to be leaking through the portals. I retreated to my sleep-dome to escape the noise. It's too loud. I slept. I awoke, still in my sleep-dome. The noise had ended, but echoed loudly in my head. But...I couldn't remember anything at all! I had to go see the others on our worlds! I talked to myself as I made my way down to my portals. I would visit our 4 worlds now, see what had happened & why everything had gone so dead, cold, silent. I went over to my white portal, the portal to the land of Beginnings. I called, "Hello? It's me, Thinker!" (Yep, that's the name of the Memory Keeper!) The emptyness echoed back: 'Thinker! Inker! Nker! Ker! Er! Er! R! r...' The echo faded away. I explored around. It was...snowing? Impossible. Snow is cold, unlike this heavy flake falling on my skin. The sky was grayed...I walked underground, to where the Master had once lived. The Master & his Generals ruled our worlds. But not a trace of them was to be found. There was a map of the galaxy our race owns, with small dots lit on it. Then, I proceeded. "Whoa! That's new." I was so surprised, I spoke aloud to myself. I was the only one there to hear myself. There, before me, lay what the Master & Generals had made during the years I had spent in my secluded home. A base for the exceedingly dangerous weapons they had been planning. I knew of those plans, helped write them before I was relocated to my station. They were supposedly for self-defense only, never to be used wantonly. 2 of the huge missile pods were gone, charred metal under where they had launched from. I left the underground, heading to a rocky crag where one Memory Orb was. It contained all the memory of the Beginning world, for me to take to my station. I took it, spinning back to my home. My head flooded with thoughts that were not mine...They had heard a groan, enormously loud. Screams, a confused *snort?*, chaos. The Highest General ran to the missiles, jabbed LAUNCH on 2 of them, ran. There the Orb cut off. I was back in my own mind. I was confused, not quite understanding what had transipred. I quickly went to the portal of the Flow planet. I saw radioactive green sludge leaking from every nook & cranny, but it wouldn't harm me. It was aged, as I could tell by the stench of rotting fish. This particular planet had been the most advanced in technology, & full of the smartest. The underground water sources that had powered their masterful creations were infected with the green stuff. I took a chain-mover upward, where I encountered a Memory Orb. I took it, seeing many scientists talking as they worked on a massive missile. "Oh, won't the Master be pleased with our project?" "Yes, it's nearly finished, & well before the deadline!" "Our final one is nearly finis-Oh crap." The machinery helping their labors exploded, exploding with radioactive green slime. The people in the streets screamed, trying to escape the powerful radiation. The planet was empty within seconds...I awoke on the floor of my place, drenched in sweat. Well, now for the world of Truth...It had always been small, almost nonexistent. The little land there was, I knew, was on top of a deep void, an enormous pit. At the bottom, what would I see? I stepped into the portal...I was standing on-"Eeewww!" Something big, purple, & soft was underfoot! I climbed around, discovering that the land of Truth had a monster resting in its bowels. It was dead, blood oozing from gargantuine wounds about the size of those missiles...Right in the center of the creature's skull, I saw the Orb. Touching it, I was the monster. I came from my cave, wanting to make friends with the beings above me. I spoke to them, but they screeched horribly at the sight of me. I tried to show them I was good, slowing my movements & grinning widely, but there was a huge, long, weapon streaking out of the sky toward me! It went right by me, though, Weird. Another came, now finding its target! I roared as I tried to fight it off, but it thudded between my shoulder blades...The darkness rose up & dragged me down. I awoke with a start. Now, for the world of Hope. The world of Hope was always peaceful. But what would I see now? I steeled my nerves & jumped in. I was on a floating rock. Hope had always been a solid chunk of rock, what had happened? I jumped up, toward the light from above. I found the orb, after leaping up the floating rocks that now composed Hope. I touched it. The Hope people were enjoying a happy gathering, a fair. Suddenly, a misfired missile streaked out of the sky, hitting Hope. The people were dead, but the planet, now blown into hundreds of peices, was beautiful. The sun of Hope stayed, lighting the world. But I was still in Hope. I removed a rubber ball from my pocket, dropping it down off my chunk of rock. As it bounced, I said, "I, Thinker, hereby rechristen this planet Beauty, as my final significant act in this universe." I had renamed the planet, something I could do once, & only when I was not going to do anything else. If I kept humanity going, used the Incubus Dome in my home, we would just start another vicious cycle. These Orbs would not be used for that. It was time to give the universe the gift of silence. I grasped the Orb, saying, "Take me home, Orb of Hope." I spun back home, then seated myself in front of my navigation console. I said to the voice-activated machinery, "The Lava, now. Let the entire ship & everything & everyone aboard fly into the Lava." I knew I would die, but it would leave the universe in peace. We flew toward the planet we had named Lava. I should say I;I was the only living thing aboard the ship. We tilted into a dive toward the Lava...

I know that was long. Tell me if you liked it! Thanks to Willow for ideas! Peace out
^-^

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@ Willow:

There's nothing feminist about that; nice story! However, I couldn't discern whether or not you distinguished 'man' from 'Mankind' since so many people these days seem to get those two muddled up.

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5h0rty who doesn't feel like logging in =) July 16, 2010 10:06 AM

By the way, my loooooong interpretation had DIFFERENCES from the real world i.e. nuclear winter, I made all those facts up. Same goes for the sludge. They're a different kind of nuclear winter, one that doesn't exist. A different kind of sludge, one we'll never know. So yea...

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Person of Awesome July 23, 2010 9:12 PM

Sacrifice (Carcass World)

A member of the alien race that invaded Terra. Terra was the second Earth, the first being destroyed by what may have been the same alien species.
This particular member was captured for study, and was rent apart by the scientists in a brutal surgery on a lifeform that was not fully understood. The noble beast was merely fleeing from the carnage before stumbling upon a military troop. His innocence didn't matter to science. Why should it?

Luna (Winter World)

Luna was the artificial third moon-sized orbital colony built by humans. It had heavy weaponry systems as well as the 'Death Ring', the largest collection of nuclear arms in human history. The unnamed invaders saw the weaponry of Luna as a prime target, and so they invaded. After battling their way to the colony's surface, the alien inadvertently set off the 'Death Ring'. The strike force was mostly wiped out, but 2 billion human citizens were atomized or died of nuclear fallout as a result. The terraformed ecosystem slowly died out, until it eventually collapsed and the colony became mostly devoid of life.

Mining Colony 12 (Green Rock World)

Mining colony 12 was an enormous asteroid that nearly crashed into the original Earth before the first invasion. It was stopped using newly discovered kinetic manipulation technology (KMT). The asteroid was found to be rich in uranium, and since the majority of human technology was powered by radioactivity drives, the asteroid was kept on permanent kinetic tether and used as a mining base. Several millenia passed, and the second invasion came. After destroying Luna, the invaders enacted their plan B, IE, using their own kinetic tether to swing the radioactive mass into Terra. After replacing most of the mine workers with synthetic androids, the aliens inserted antimatter weapons into the asteroids core and sent it speeding towards the planet. The resulting catastrophe smashed off a chunk of Terra itself and left Mining Colony 12 on its surface, serving as a point of entry for the invaders.

Terra (Town)

All hope was lost with the destruction of MC12. Most inhabitants fled in space colonies, desperately searching for a habitable planet. The remaining organized a last stand of defense inside an underground complex. Using the most advanced stealth technology available, the humans attempted to hide underground permanently, all the while amassing nuclear arms in an attempt to launch a final attack to destroy the invaders.
It took one android.
One android found the underground colony. The nuclear arms were not safe.
One radioactivity leak ended the human race. Permanently. It wasn't noticed at first, the colony continued to prosper. Then came the diseases. Radiation poisoning spread through the colony like wildfire. They were left with three choices: Die of thirst, die of radioactivity, or try their luck on the surface. All 3 options were suicide. All the citizens smashed their technology, burned the nuclear arms, and repented before their god. There was nothing they could do.

Space Colony GK23100 (Starting Area)

Les awoke. His cryostasis tube had been smashed. His comrades were gone. Kidnapped? Disintegrated? Who knows?
Les got his emergency oxygen suit on and explored the wreckage of his ship. Broken memories flashed through his head... Explosions. Blood. Prayer. Horrific alien beasts. He could barely concentrate.
At the end of his search he found a room. He decided to enter, descending slowly down the ladder.
He found pictures. Pictures of the carnage that had happened before. Of his experience at the army hospital. Luna. MC12. Terra. Memories snapped together, fitting like pieces of a puzzle.
There was only one way out of this station.
'Silence'.


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I just noticed one small thing.....the winter world has green trees.

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Also the map on said level does not resemble Earth.

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Flaillomanz November 28, 2010 10:34 AM

Time travel?
Maybe that is what the "teleporters" are.
And the worlds seem to go in a logical procession ending at the space age.

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Some things I want to say:

1- The reviewer said that falling down and having to climb back up happens more than it should but I think that the repetitive nature of this game just enhances the message that silence isn't easy to get.

2- The simple art style with no animation, that looks pixelly and papery at the same time... It looks kind of like the art style on One Chance.

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Could be vaguely inspired by Harlan Ellison's classic short story "I have no Mouth and I must scream".

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@ Sylocat (I know I'm really late on this one)

perhaps he is plagued by insanity and thus hears the voices of all those lost...

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I found this game about a year ago and I've since found myself thinking of it from time to time. Very haunting. There are some great interpretations on this page, and I like what an open-ended story we get.

I see a world that fell into nuclear armageddon, with five missing missiles for five targets on the map (I just noticed crosses planted on the surface, in the distant background-- graves???); a planet that blew itself up entirely, and there's not even enough of it left to know what happened; a noble city that lost its identity, its health, and then its population in the ongoing rush towards modernization, boxy skyscrapers to the sides, with its older now-abandoned waterwheels still running as grandly as ever; and a big space monster that we destroyed. For me the space monster is the very saddest. I think we're supposed to mourn this dead thing, to get past its appearance and feel the wretched death of a fellow being. It was once powerful and alive, and with a quick stomp of weaponry it could never have understood, we ended everything for it. Like the end of "King Kong." Maybe we had to kill it in self-defense, or maybe not; I like the idea that it came along not looking for a fight but got slaughtered because of how scary it looked. And even if it was eating people and we had to kill it to save ourselves, the corpse is a sad thing to behold. Floating out in space, alone and dismissed. I see a reminder here to love thine enemy. Wouldn't a creature like this, any creature, once have known love? What do you suppose it felt while it died? Did it do any good really to save ourselves from a beast when we couldn't save us from ourselves?
As for the "too much noise", and then "silence", I feel sure that the noise is our little protagonist reliving the nightmares that brought him/her to this place. Survivor's guilt. Having nothing else to focus on but memories. And then flying into the sun to bring an end to the suffering. God this is a sad game. And I adore it.

Serious thanks to David Shute and Kevin McLeod for their works of brilliance.
Less-than-three.

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Anonymous October 16, 2011 9:22 PM

at this game (or all games), i should stop reading the comments before playing the games.

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This game blew me away. Your character is literally two red pixels and one pink pixel stacked vertically... that shouldn't even work, that shouldn't even feel or act as a character... and yet it does!

This game is a feat of minimalism and deep atmospheric ambience, inexplicably merged perfectly together.

An excellent game, and an excellent exploration of interactive art.

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S T U N N I N G

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You guys don't know what to type huh? Well, this is my version. Its in the "i" form.

I wake up from a looooong sleep. I think i slept for centurys. I rechieve an old messege (again) on my radio. it sais: The creature (unreichieveble words) fired missles... people killed... all worlds will corrupt... get here... fast... and then the message ended. I don't know who or what spoke it. The alarm rings and i need to get my oxygen or else even i will die. I activated the teleporters and got into the green one, representing "Hope". It was changed by something. normally it was just a solid rock and people were everywere. Now it's quiet and there were rocks floating everywhere. I found the memory orb and saw what happened. A missle (maybe coming from Winter Wonderland) got over to "Hope" and killed everybody. Also, with the giant explosion, Hope exploded into hundreds of pieces. I saw everybody dieing and Hope exploding. I opended my eyes and i saw i was back in the laboratory. I got into de blue teleporter. Then i saw a city. It was not a normal city because it was corrupted. Green, radioactive slime drope down from some windows and nothing that i could do about it. But was it worth doing something about it? I don't think so...

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Wonderful game! This soundtrack along with these beautiful scenery makes this game a work of art especially.

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9 Clues: The Ward> Dora A frantic phone call brings you to a remote asylum, but things aren't what they seem in this fantastic and campy thriller hidden-object adventure that's packed with detective work, explosive scenes, and a wonderfully creepy style.  ...

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