Click nothing to begin. It's obvious from that very first screen of Depict1 that you can't do what you're told if you want to progress. But what or who are you disobeying, and what exactly should you be doing instead? You'll need puzzle-solving wits along with platforming fingers to complete this thought-provoking game by Miroslav Malesevic, porting the original downloadable game by Kyle Pulver to Flash.
Ordinarily, this is the part where I'd blah blah blee at you about the controls, but not this time. Just learning how to move is a puzzle in this game. The voice tells you to use the [arrow] keys, but I'll save you some time and tell you they don't do anything. What other common keyboard control scheme is used for platform gaming? Not very difficult to figure out, right? Okay, how about this helpful instruction from the voice: "Press space to Jump." From that, can you figure out what key it actually is? If so, great; if not, experimenting a little won't hurt you much, since if you die in this game, you're only ever sent back to the beginning of the current level, and levels are fairly brief.
Figuring out the controls is only the beginning of the trickery in this game, which is appropriate, since the original game was created for the "deception" themed 2010 Global Game Jam. The goals of the levels may also not be what they seem. Put on your backwards thinking cap, because more often than not, what would be a help in an ordinary platformer is a hindrance, and vice versa. However, you eventually get to levels where there's no obvious reverse of the "right" answer. What should you do if you only know what not to do? That's the key to this game.
Analysis: The smug disembodied voice with questionable or even deadly advice for the player started as a parody or subversion of game narrators and tutorials, but it's now a theme in its own right. From the meme-generating mega-hit Portal to the recent art game Loved, these "don't trust the game" games are popping up more and more.
Depict1 isn't content to copy the big boys of the genre. The endings of the game are open to interpretation, but my understanding of the ending involves a twist I haven't yet seen in such games. This isn't yet another completely predictable Portal-clone. (Although I still say that someone needs to make a game where the main character completes the experimental course with the bright and cheery help of ethical staff and receives delicious cookies and a check to pay off student loans at the end. It would mess with people's minds so much.)
The platforming is fun and sometimes challenging but rarely needs razor sharp precision or perfect timing and reflexes. Finely honed platforming instincts may actually work against you in some level until you twig on to the "dangerous = helpful, safe = deadly" level design. The one really difficult level of the original game was updated by dividing it into two levels, thus making progress lost with death quite small. The game as a whole should be within reach of most gamers. Puzzle solving in the game relies almost entirely on keen observation, both through careful reading of the text commentary by your "helpful" friend and of the game field itself.
The game's puzzling and platforming aspects are well balanced, avoiding becoming another hardcore platformer with a few puzzling aspects clumsily grafted on to attract a wider audience. Neither does the game fall into that frustrating trap where the puzzles are awesome but the developer forgot little things like "collision detection" and "controls that respond." Depict1 is among that elite group of puzzle/platform games that I would recommend to fans of one genre who are wary of the other. For people who love the hybrid, it's not to be missed.