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Mercurial Story


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Rating: 3.9/5 (46 votes)
Comments (9) | Views (5,232)

Mercurial Story

[Please note that this game deals with physical and emotional abuse.]

Havana24.net's puzzle platformer Mercurial Story is about a guy whose unpredictable and uncontrollable mood swings impact his life in a very big way. Each level is divided in half horizontally, and up top is the brighter, happier world, while below is the darker, more dangerous world that turns his life upside-down. Literally, since when you're below, everything is inverted! Use the [arrow] keys to move and jump, or [X] to jump, and you can double-jump while you're "happy" in the world above. Below, everything is more dangerous, but you'll still often find yourself needing to delve into it to pass through the level. Where the two "worlds" intersect, your character will bob back and forth between them like a cork, so you don't need to worry about falling and dying, and you can actually use this momentum to reach new heights. (Press [R] if you get stuck!) This can be fiddly to master on some stages, and combined with the optional (prescribed, presumably) pills to collect, which of course doesn't describe everyone's situation but can be one person's method of coping, Mercurial Story won't be for everyone. More concerning is actually the implication that the main character is both physically and emotionally abusive to those around him, and while this is clearly as a result of the character's uncontrollable problem, it still might be upsetting enough to some people that the ending may not ring quite as sweet, though the intent is clearly to show a difficult situation and attempt to give hope to anyone else experiencing it as well.

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9 Comments

Interesting. Respect to the dev if this is indeed autobiographical. Just my POV here but I kind of wish there were some minimal comments/levels devoted to how both the MC and NPCs feel about the MC's struggles and lashing out. (More parts like the family having the character's back, but from both the positive and negative side of things, like how does the girlfriend feels about it all?) That said, what a great way to add meaning to platforming! It even made me wonder how so may platformers could have been made over the... decades (?!) ...that didn't take advantage of the medium the way this piece does.

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kanna, have you played one step back or the other side by coolioniato? Those are, in my opinion at least, better puzzles coupled with the whole idea of "game mechanic as storytelling".

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There's no reason to narrate some sort of depression or whatever this was trying to do. Made me quit playing after like 4 levels. Go see a therapist or something.

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kanna November 25, 2014 2:37 PM replied to Xindaris

I have played those, actually, and really enjoyed them both. Actually it's been long enough that I just might play through them again. Thanks for reminding me! :)

(I still wish there were more such games and from more points of view, but I didn't mean to imply this was the first one in existence.)

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https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawnrLT_DgOiK7Leoj0eRHY69GNEFT33XtTU November 25, 2014 3:31 PM

Fairly annoying because you can't double jump in the red side of the screen.

Gave up on level 7, couldn't get any of the pills after level 5.
Seriously needs a mute, that music gets annoying as hell.

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You can mute the game by hitting the "M" key. The only way to figure that out is by guessing though.

Not to brag … no, that's a lie … I'm totally bragging … I got every pill, including the pills in the hardcore levels you unlock by getting the pills in all the normal levels.

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I felt that Mercurial Story did a decent job of hitting that sweet spot between preachy and "just a platformer." After reading the description, I was wondering how subtle the moodswing theme was going to be. From 1 being the most abstract hint at deeper meaning to 10 being "Hey, guys, this is a game about..." I'd say it was about an 8. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though given that, I would have preferred the level design to be more directly related to the narration in question. I am quite fond of the "Sometimes it was like X..." followed by a level which illustrates X format, but Mercurial Story didn't quite do that. It was more that the levels just ended with "cutscenes" that conveyed the message rather than it being inherent in the levels.

As far as atmosphere, the changes in music and terrain color between sides were definitely good choices. That said, a few extra details could have enhanced it immensely - how about a few NPCs here and there to toss in a line of dialogue? How about background activity? I understand that browser games are never going to be "immersive" in the way that games like Skyrim are, but subtle details like that are engaging and make games of this sort powerful.

Anyway, it was a pretty good game. And bonus points because the characters all have computer monitors for heads.

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