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Howard Glitch

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Rating: 4.1/5 (60 votes)
Comments (34) | Views (4,511)

BradHoward GlitchYouTube videos and Flash games are probably the two biggest distractions on the internet. If someone were to combine them, it could be the most glorious and destructive thing to happen in this modern era. Companies would go bankrupt from the loss of productivity. Well, the addictive union has arrived, and it's an art game called Howard Glitch.

Howard Glitch is about a space shuttle hurtling into the maw of a monster. You're on the shuttle, along with several other passengers, but there's no driver or controls. The shuttle is being controlled far away by someone who isn't paying attention. While you're rushing toward your doom, you have some choices to make. The first: should you sit by and await death, or delve deep into your mind to escape reality?

Designed by Robert Allmand, Howard Glitch takes place entirely within a series of YouTube videos. You'll get a bit of sparsely animated story and then be confronted with a choice or a puzzle. Click on your choice or what you think is the solution and you'll be taken to another video. What emerges is a strange little game that's one part choose your own adventure with a twist of an escape game.

Analysis: What Howard Glitch is all about is doing something new. First attempts at something different can be hit or miss and are always looked at with a skeptical eye by us, the general public. When you think about the limitations of making a game via YouTube. it's surprising Allmand was this successful. By the very nature of the game, puzzles are somewhat limited in scope, although one involves using the mute button, which is kind of clever. You can see a lot thought went in to each turning point in the game.

Howard GlitchLooking beyond the artistic portion of the game, Howard Glitch doesn't offer a great challenge, nor is it a very long experience. That's almost expected, as watching a YouTube video generally doesn't tax your brain too much.

Howard Glitch probably won't spawn a new wave of YouTube games, but Allmand says he intends to turn this into a series, so perhaps the concept could be further refined into something even more interactive. Until then, browse YouTube in a way you've never done before, and see what a modern Choose Your Own Adventure novel might be like.

JohnBTurning a collection of YouTube videos into an interactive experience (we like to use the word "game") is a lofty goal. Howard Glitch takes a few steps away from passive entertainment and engages you a bit more, asking you to make choices, hunt and click hotspots, change settings on the video, skip forwards and backwards in time, etc. You'll be hit with a lot of "oh, neat" moments during the game, smiling at the novel use of video controls and how well they're integrated into the experience. And the story Howard Glitch tells is a good, miniature psychological thriller, which is a genre I can never get enough of.

One question remains at the end of the day: which side of the line does Howard Glitch walk? Is it a game or is it a bunch of clickable videos? You would really have to open up that old chestnut about games being art to define this one, but I'm confident saying Allmand is taking the postmodern art approach to game creation, using new media in new ways to shake up an old industry. It provides something a little different from the rest, and while Howard Glitch may not be "different" enough or "game" enough, the end experience is a good, though not perfect, one.

Play Howard Glitch

Thanks to Robert and Simon for sending this one in!


I can't figure out what to do on the one with the

reality bombs

Livingpyramid September 2, 2010 10:28 AM

Huh. Nice game, but I've yet to find an actual 'good' ending.

Livingpyramid September 2, 2010 10:34 AM

Okay, It says for me to 'rewind the video to 1 second and find an alternate(?) path to escape.' Help!!!


For the "Rewind to 0:01" issue:

Look closely at the reality bombs.

What's the deal with the maze? Do I need to

follow the impossible directions, or play snake? If I play snake, how long doesn my snake need to be, or do I just need to not die? Or do I need to float him over an exit and click?


Interesting concept but the final maze is obnoxious.

There aren't enough directions for how to move. "Only when there is a wall 90 degrees from you" Huh? 90 degrees is to the side of me, not directly in front of me, which is what I think they mean. This also makes it sound like you don't use the directions when you enter a 4 way intersection, but you WOULD use them when you bump into a wall even if you're in an 'elbow' of the maze (could only turn one direction or go back the way you came). On top of that "backwards" doesn't explain if you turn around and walk or if you literally walk backwards (thus still facing the direction you were going), which matters when the other directions are left and right.

I feel like it's total trial and error for the maze due to this poor explanation of the directions.


Did anybody get

Rick Roll'd

in the maze?

arcticwolf15 September 2, 2010 1:09 PM



The maze made sense to me... Make sure you're in full screen. Here is how the maze works: (no spoilers)

*Your character is always facing the direction he just moved.
*You stop when you bumps into a wall that is perpendicular to your direction of movement. That is, you stop at a hard corner, but if the path "loops," you continue to follow the loop until you reach a wall 90º in your way.
*If the walls surrounding you say "Reality," do the opposite of the directions. That is, if you come to a stop in a Reality corridor, and the next step is "left", turn right instead.
*Directions are ALWAYS from the point of view of your character, who is always facing the direction he was moving! So if it says, "backwards," it means, "turn around and go back the way you came."

Hope this helps!

[Spoilers fixed. Please preview your comment first to be sure your spoilers are correct. Thanks! :) -Jay]


For the maze i randomly guessed the link and i got it! On my first try


I agree that the maze's directions aren't enough. I finally worked it out though, and for anyone else who is finding it frustrating, I hope this helps.

Preliminary hint:

Remember that the directions say you don't *have* to click on any exit you come to.

(In the following, North is UP).

1. Forwards

You are facing the direction that, inside the black box on the map, an arrow made of the word "forward" points. So walk north to find yourself in the center of the highest white corridor of the maze.

2. Left

Turn left - and yes, start walking. Go west until you hit the T-section wall near the NW of the maze. (There's an EXIT in a room just SE of you).

3. Left

Turn left and walk south. Stop when you hit the wall. (There is now an EXIT inside of yellow walls just to the SW of you).

4. Backwards

Turn all the way around and walk forward/north. (Yeah, that's not what I thought it meant, either.) This brings you north, facing north, not *quite* in the most NW section of the maze. You're in the yellow corridor along the top.

5. Right

You're in reality, so turn left. This means go west to the very west-most corner in the north-most corridor.

6. Right

Left again - this brings you south, and right on top of the EXIT in the yellow corridor. But don't click on it, you're going to keep going.

7. Right

Left again brings you east, to where you're almost (but not quite) out of the yellow/reality section.

8. Right

Left yet again brings you north. You're in the room with the EXIT in the NW corner, but you're standing just east of it.

9. Right

This time actually go right/east. You're in the NE corner of the same room.

10. Right

This turn will bring you south, all the way through the loop until you're going east, through *that* loop too until you're going south, and stop in the far south-east corner of the maze, in the white corridor just west of the purple section.

11. Backwards

Turn around and go north. You're just below the EXIT in the yellow corridor along the top of the maze.

12. Right

Right brings you east, past some holes in the wall to the EXIT in the yellow reality section floating along the east part of the map. Don't go through this exit, either.

13. Left

Left means right in reality again, so go south, past the EXIT above the purple bit, *into* the purple bit, following along the walls until they propel you along the purple corridor to the west. You stop in the only corner in the purple section of the maze.

14. Left

Still in reality, so go right, or north-ish. Finally, click on the EXIT when you come to it. (If you look at the NE section of the maze, you will see four EXITs in a shape that could very roughly be described as a rectangle. Of those four, this is the one in the SW, the one that most distorts the rectangle shape.)

Livingpyramid September 2, 2010 4:14 PM

Someone just make a hint-through already. I still don't understand the "00:01" puzzle. Please help!


I'm just going to throw this out there, this concept is not completely new. I saw it for the first time on another channel, Truth or fail, where it was like a game show. It was first aired on June 28, 2009. Just saying.


I remember that Truth or Fail thing as well. Wish I could re-subscribe to it.

There are multitudes and more of these things and it's not a wave per se, but it's hardly uncommon or a new concept. The biggest medium used lately are machinimas. The most recent one I played through a Team Fortress 2 one.


Am I the only one where the game just pauses when you click your choice?


As for the happy ending, I think I may have found a way to save the passengers:

I don't know if they intended this or if I'm just interpreting it this way, but any time before a "game over" screen when you see the shuttle flying towards the beast, look at the background. The word SPACE is flying around. This may be referring to the space out side of the shuttle, but if you press the SPACE bar, what happens? The shuttle stops. Any thoughts?


I was hoping for a better ending. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that

everybody dies


For the "Back to 00:01" puzzle,

Turn it to HD, and then look VERY closely at the words of the reality bombs, especially the ones in the top left corner.


Zengief: Happens to me in google chrome (v.6) with html5 video enabled for youtube - does not happen in firefox. I'm guessing that is what's happening to you.

cinder calhoun September 2, 2010 11:18 PM

@ Parmeisan
Thanks. I was doing pretty much that logic, but got hung up on step ll - I kept taking the 'backwards' back through the loops, not straight up. Sheesh (facepalm) :P


One of the 'reality bombs' is spelled out with 'ESCAPE' not 'REALITY'. It's the very top row, 2nd or 3rd form the left I believe.


The mute one was hard. I had no idea how to even know what he's saying when I mute it. Even if it is related, I don't know the code to escape reality.

Livingpyramid September 3, 2010 9:38 AM

Thanks Jomn and cinder calhuon for the hint and answer respectively. I'm gonna try it now.

Livingpyramid September 3, 2010 9:47 AM

SUCCESS! Now let think about the NEXT puzzle. Don't rush me here!

Livingpyramid September 3, 2010 9:57 AM

Okay, Now I'm here where you have to memorize words of shapes in a different shape. I know, nothing serious. Just Saying.


Calvin -- You have to mute the sound when the word "mute" is on the screen and unmute it when the words disappear. The spoiler gives the answer away:

bottom left corner

I found this a little disappointing, mostly because of the quality of the writing. It feels like most of the game is prose, and the writing has the flaws that Emily Short has recently discussed; vague, symbolic, big on ideas rather than concrete details. And is all this prose really the best use of the medium?

Livingpyramid September 3, 2010 1:48 PM

Actually, there's a way to save everybody without stopping the shuttle. But you'll have to sacrifice yourself. I'm not telling though!

KingfisherEyes September 3, 2010 3:22 PM

I'd like to warn those people who suffer with pure o ocd to think twice before playing this game.


... My maze doesn't have any links in it...


For anyone missing the links on the videos, make sure that you have annotations enabled on the video. I've got a script that turns off annotations (and autobuffers videos) by default, so I had to enable it on a video-by-video basis.


Could someone enlighten me on the point of introducing five random people if there is never any semblance of interaction with them?
Or how being unwinnable makes a game more artistic?


I guess you're missing the point here. Its an artistic game because it is describing futility, and how painful reality is.


It's an interesting concept, but one I've seen several times before.


That reality is futile/hopeless is a point I highly disagree with, but I don't think that's a point too readily derived from it. The best ending it has to offer appears to confirm that escapism is okay to a point.

What I am most disappointed about is the game TELLS you "Oh you can save them" and then doesn't present you with ANY challenges but merely skips that part altogether, a part which SHOULD have been, were this a decent storyline or a decent game, the climax and focus of the game.

Between this and a few other "art games", I'm beginning to suspect the term is just code for "sorta interactive but not really a game".


I agree with Duppy.


The link reroutes and I cannot find a place to play this game.


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