Feeling Negative: Bars Of Black And White

By John Walker on February 3rd, 2009 at 3:43 pm.

My magazines say this about me too.

I love an Escape The Room game. This little lovely was spotted by the eagliest eyes in the world at Indie Games. It’s called Bars of Black and White, employing a barcode scanner as its central premise. this one’s by Gregory Weir, who you may remember from Majesty of Colors.

There’s a pleasingly oppressive tone to the short game, its hastily scrawled environments fitting the overall theme, with plenty of nice surprises in its ten minutes. My favourite being the radio. Once you have the barcode scanner, you can scan black and white striped items by clicking and dragging from left to right, revealing information at the bottom of the screen. Increasingly strange information.

The aim, as is ever the case with these games, is to get out of the room. Which is a nice way to implement gentle themes from point and click adventures, while using the experimental atmosphere of interactive fiction. Go play.

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43 Comments »

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  1. l1ddl3monkey says:

    Short enough for my afternoon tea break! Interesting take on the genre, not entirely sure what it was trying to say but still very enjoyable.

  2. James Brophy says:

    is…is it safe?

  3. Calabi says:

    Its quite good.

  4. steve says:

    John Walker loves to click screen

  5. Senethro says:

    Completed it, didn’t get it. At least one “try every item on everything” puzzle but thankfully there are few possibilities. 5 minutes diversion.

  6. IdleHands says:

    Ha ha. I played this yesterday and did think to myself ‘this is the sort of thing RPS would enjoy’. Was short but interesting enough to keep me entertained.

  7. Ian says:

    Erm. Cheery!

  8. Cooper42 says:

    Got this via jayisgames yesterday, and it filled a tiny slice of my afternoon. *spoilerish* Interesting idea, and, along with closure, another recent game to use psychological exploration as its underlying theme.

  9. Rob says:

    @Senethro
    What was the ‘try every item on everything’ moment?

    I thought it was a good concept fairly neatly executed, was just thinking about Majesty of Colors when I clicked onto this actually.

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    James G says:

    An interesting idea, and well executed. Had a suitably creepy feel reminiscent of finding the first ‘behind the scenes’ alcove in Portal. My only criticism would be that some of the barcodes were a bit clichéd the whole ‘none of this is real’ and ‘what is sane,’ which as a result felt like a slightly cheap way of building up the paranoia. This may however just be my personal dislike of nihilism, which I find a concept only worth entertaining for short periods, as it is ultimately a futile one.

  11. Thomas Lawrence says:

    Hmm, can’t find that 30th barcode…

  12. baf says:

    You’ll kick yourself when you find it.

  13. jonfitt says:

    A fun diversion. Gregory Weir is one to watch. Always.

  14. Lex says:

    Okay, I’m just gonna ask. How do I get the barcode scanner? I’ve beaten the game twice!

  15. Rob says:

    @Lex

    Spoiler alert to anyone else

    You do the colour puzzle on the computer, it arrives as you complete that, through the door to the apartment.

  16. Acosta says:

    I can’t even find the barcode scanner, lol, completed the game without finding. I must be a real failure.

  17. Flint says:

    Solve the ‘puzzle’ on the computer.

  18. Lex says:

    Thank you! I thought that was just the key to another puzzle.

  19. baf says:

    Hm, okay. If you won without finding the scanner, you must have taken a wild guess at one point. Perhaps this was Senethro’s “try every item on everything” moment?

  20. Radiant says:

    2 games in a row about the futility of playing videogames.
    It’s okay mate. I wanted to be a musician too!
    Curse these chains!

  21. Acosta says:

    haha, I actually solved the puzzle on the wall before I did in the computer. I guess that is why developers worry that much for straightforward experiences, to avoid dummies like me getting lost. Thanks! Going to try.

  22. John Walker says:

    How on earth did people know to use the baseball bat, let alone where, without finding the scanner?

  23. Larington says:

    The curse of the try using an object everywhere issue that can be directly attributed to those accursed pixel hunter games.

  24. Acosta says:

    Well, I would love to sound clever but I didn’t “know” anything, it was just experimenting. I was so lost trying to get the barcode reader that I simply used what I had (the pills and the bat) in anything that would make any sense or was in someway interactive, leading to my characters hitting microwaves, televisions, badly drawn zebras, doors and eventually the lamp, which funnily enough turned the light to the wall, and given I was in middle of furious rampant, I hit that too. Voila.

    It´s a shame, I think I accidentally killed a nice experience, it would have much more impact if I had read the codes for first time.

  25. Pags says:

    How on earth did people know to use the baseball bat, let alone where, without finding the scanner?

    Incredible leaps of broken logic. That, and a whole lot of pixel-clicking.

  26. DeliriumWartner says:

    Thanks for that guys. Very pleasing. Anyone else try to scan the images at the end? (Trying to avoid spoilers there)

  27. Senethro says:

    My own “try everything” moment was using the pills on the spider. As soon as I saw the spider I tried first the electric knife, then the pills so its not like it held me up a long time, it just rubbed me the wrong way.

    I’m alarmed by the people who batted their way out without the barcode. That suggests that there are people who ENJOY lots of random clicking.

  28. Pags says:

    That suggests that there are people who ENJOY lots of random clicking.

    Not if all you’re clicking is a light switch though. As that recent post amply proved.

  29. Nihohit says:

    disconcerting.

  30. Tei says:

    |||||| ||| ||| ||||||| |||

  31. El Stevo says:

    “I’m alarmed by the people who batted their way out without the barcode. That suggests that there are people who ENJOY lots of random clicking.”

    The barcode scanner is only really needed when working out what to do with the baseball bat.

  32. Lizard Dude says:

    Didn’t find the latter half of the barcodes until my second playthrough.

    I also didn’t realize until the second playthrough that

    -spoiler-

    The barcode obsession derives from the mental patient’s only view of the outside world: his vertically-barred cell door window.

  33. Shakey-Lo says:

    Oh wow, its got a Wholphin DVD! It’s got my interest.

  34. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    James G:

    Yeah, I was definitely getting Portal flashbacks in my first playthrough.

  35. Bret says:

    The aperture science bar-code scanner will not threaten to stab you and in fact cannot speak.

  36. Down Rodeo says:

    I liked that… as others have said, use pills on spider is a bit weird. But then, you are a bit insane…

  37. CreativeShadows says:

    hmm cant find the last barcode :(

  38. CreativeShadows says:

    never mind just found it :) obvious barcode is obvious………. too obvious

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    Vandelay says:

    I didn’t find using the pills on the spider that weird. It is obvious from the barcodes you’ve read that you are a prisoner in this place and being studied, and I think one of them might have even said something about drugging you or some such. But still, I tried the knife on the spider first too, though I hadn’t picked up the pills yet.

    Quite liked it, but I agree with James G that many of the messages were too heavy handed and clichéd. I got a little bit of the seen it all before from it. But not a terrible way to waste a few minutes.

  40. Tei says:

    I like the game, is a sucess as a game, and a trippy experience.
    What I don’t know is why is so taxing on the CPU, maybe is the chat thing on the right.

  41. Igor Hardy says:

    Figuring out that the computer monitor is a touch screen was way too hard!

  42. Alex says:

    I can never do these things, so perhaps my success in finishing it makes me like it more but: I thought this was really good.
    Yeah, it’s a bit derivative (Portal meets They Live!) but every step seemed really logical to me (being shit at adventure games); atmosphere was really well-done, and I don’t think it’s ever occured to me just how sinister the basic concept of Escape the Room games are.

  43. Thomas Lawrence says:

    baf was right, I kicked myself.