Don’t Look Back

By Jim Rossignol on March 16th, 2009 at 9:22 am.


This feels like the polar opposite of what I should be doing, which is playing ultra-graphics RTS World In Conflict. Don’t Look Back is a simplistic, but very tricky, pixel-art platformer by Terry Cavanagh. It’s really well done, and escalates into insanity. You can play it over on Kongregate, and I found it via the mighty TIGSource. Right, time to get back to listening to this and writing about the apparently endless march of strategy games.

__________________

« | »

, , .

50 Comments »

  1. teo says:

    This game is really neat
    Especially once you figure out what it’s about

  2. kyrieee says:

    It’s not insanity, it’s the story of Orpheus and Eurydice

  3. Ian says:

    I got bored long before I found out what the point of it is.

    Though I’d be interested to know.

  4. A:\Big.bat says:

    I found it to be deliciously old school. Sort of reminded me of Knytt (only less sublime).

  5. Helm says:

    Sadly the music here is Obvious Emotion-tugging Strings but I did like the rest of it and I appreciated the sentiment. I enjoyed the ancient Greek mythology reference and I’m glad to see people pick up on it.

  6. A:\Big.bat says:

    Just finished it – fantastic stuff. I definitely dig the fact that he game Orpheus a fun. Lyres are for pussies :)

  7. Rob says:

    Fun little game, good start to a morning

  8. feitclub says:

    Very nicely done game. I would have liked something more than a simple “respawn” if you looked back though – say a different ending? It’s such a short game I replayed it just to see if things changed whether you looked or not. They don’t.

  9. Elbo says:

    The video is awesome. Reminds me a bit of Venetian Snares.
    As for the game: I found it was annoying if you had to correct a jump.

  10. El Stevo says:

    “While fleeing from Aristaeus, Eurydice ran into a nest of snakes which bit her fatally on her heel. Distraught, Orpheus played such sad songs and sang so mournfully that all the nymphs and gods wept. On their advice, Orpheus traveled to the underworld and by shooting them in the face softened the hearts of Hades and Persephone (he was the only person ever to do so), who agreed to allow Eurydice to return with him to earth on one condition: he should walk in front of her and not look back until they both had reached the upper world.”

    I found it atmospheric, but really frustrating.

  11. Meat Circus says:

    Nice concept frustrated by poor execution.

  12. Kitt Basch says:

    It’s so hard it made me cry. Also there’s a bit of Greek tragedy.

  13. sassy says:

    I played this a while ago and loved it <3 far too easy though. I have now finished it five times for various reasons but no chance I will go a sixth

  14. MacBeth says:

    Spoilerific but can anyone explain the ending?

  15. FhnuZoag says:

    Too hard.

  16. cyrenic says:

    Having finished it, I will say the game was so frustrating any other point he was trying to get across was lost :P.

  17. Xercies says:

    Yes its quite frustrating, and the jump is very sticky and sometimes when you need it it doesn’t work. Good game though.

  18. klei says:

    not half as frustrating as other free games, but still not easy enough for gamers new to the genre (of OLDSCHOOL platformers) :)

    and the ending got me sniffing

  19. apnea says:

    Nice youtube remixes : RPS have good music taste after all !

    :)

  20. Sulphur says:

    Got to the end, frustrating at parts (gosh-darned rope jumpin’!), but damn if it isn’t a pretty affecting experience. You really do need to play it to the end.

    I’m quite impressed at how Terry managed to evoke the story without any text or speech whatsoever. And I think the choice of music/sound effects was inspired.

    Kudos, Mr. Cavanagh, that was brilliant.

  21. El Stevo says:

    As an art piece game, isn’t it shooting itself in the foot with the difficulty level? How many people will have given up before even finding out the significance of the title?

  22. Dorsch says:

    I think the difficulty underlines the point the ending tries to make. The harder you work for it, the more it gets to you. Explains the difficulty, doesn’t excuse it.

  23. PleasingFungus says:

    Brings back the old days – difficulty for the sake of difficulty! Just how I like it, especially the levels where the terrain was invisible!

    Oh, wait, I hate that.

    Never mind.

  24. PleasingFungus says:

    Well, okay, the invisible-terrain levels weren’t really the worst. The worst things were anything requiring you to jump, per Xercies comment. (Got sick of it before the end.)

  25. Ian says:

    Okay, thanks RPS comments-dwellers. Now I just feel stupid.

    So as nobody was saying what happens if you perservered through the challenging/too hard/annoying gameplay I decided to go back in and finish because I wanted to know what happened. But I don’t get it.

    =(

  26. eoy says:

    Way too easy, played through it in less than 10 minutes.

  27. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    Yeah, the ending was a real gut punch.

  28. Aaron "El" says:

    After playing I Wanna Be The Guy, this is cake. Ending was superb.

  29. Thirith says:

    Anyone want to spoil the ending for those of us who are wusses, e.g. me? :-D

  30. El Stevo says:

    Man’s lady friend is dead, he is sad. He goes to fetch her from the underworld, à la Orpheus and Eurydice. They make it out and it turns out it was just the grieving man’s fantasy.

    (The title comes from the fact that when you’ve found the girl and are escaping with her, you aren’t allowed to look back at her. Look up the legend on wikipedia.)

  31. Heliocentric says:

    You get back, find a person by the grave, he looks at you and both you and the spirit fade to dust.

  32. Thirith says:

    That’s kind of neat – although not enough to make me go back to the game. I don’t do “insanely difficult” any more. I broke enough Competition Pros back on my trusty C-64.

    (Also, I originally misread the title as Don’t Look Now. Am wondering what a computer game adaptation of that one would be like…)

  33. kyrieee says:

    It’s not insanely difficult
    I just beat it again in like 15 min

  34. Tei says:

    I Hail you, insanne awesome old-school platformer.

  35. Sulphur says:

    Thirith, it’s difficult but persevere-able-ish… if you know what I mean. Insanely difficult would be I Want to Be That Guy, a game which I had to quit after a coupla screens.

    The concept loses a lot when conveyed in words, suffice to say it’s best experienced right to the end because of how the gameplay evokes the story.

  36. undead dolphin hacker says:

    Reminiscent of Braid, though it didn’t try so hard to be Art where it became obnoxious like Braid did. Like Braid, the ending is chilling and somewhat unexpected (I’m talking about Braid’s final, titular level — not the bizarre post-script).

    In both games there’s a pervasive sense of inevitable failure, futility, and disappointment — and how both managed to work all those aspects into both a surprising and revelatory ending was really impressive.

    Gameplay. Many of the jumping puzzles were similar to Megaman. Specifically Megaman 2.

    If I hadn’t wasted my youth playing NES-era platformers I might have found this frustrating. But I didn’t because, hell, you respawn instantly, often on the same screen, and have infinite lives. However, I am going to lord my prowess over you. Ha ha whiners, you’re bad at the game.

    The entire mechanic of not looking back after nabbing MyEurydice was great in how it deconstructed what we take for granted in platforming games, just as Braid did with its later, more complex time manipulations.

    Anyway, for now, I’m waiting on the inevitable Cleansing of Sodom and Gomorrah expansion.

    If we had to fart numbers I’d give it an 8/10 and throw it in the bin with Majesty of Colors and… whatever that game was with the boy in the boat and the girl on the moon and you moved elements around the screen to get different endings.

  37. Thranx says:

    Just completed this. Fantastic.

  38. Ian says:

    Ahh. If I’d know the Orpheus thing it would have made more sense then. Fair enough.

  39. Kieron Gillen says:

    Orpheus is the best of the myths.

    KG

  40. Ian says:

    I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have you down as an Oedipus man, Kieron.

  41. Kieron Gillen says:

    If my mum was your mum, you’d be an Oedipus man too.

    KG

  42. Ian says:

    Would your mum still be your mum as well?

    Because that’d be an odd sibling rivalry.

  43. Blaxploitation Man says:

    Hurray. A mediocre game that only got an article because it was made in some dude’s basement instead of a corporate office.

  44. futage says:

    What if it was made in some dude’s office? Or a corporate basement?

  45. Jetsetlemming says:

    I liked it, though I don’t remember Orpheus exploding into dust when he had returned from Hades (I don’t remember at all what happened at the end of that myth, just that he went to hell and back to retrive his lady friend, highschool english was a long time ago).

    It was not insanely hard you big babies.

  46. Thomas Lawrence says:

    What happened in the original myth was that he got almost all the way back, and then he looked back (the fool) and lost her forever.

  47. the north face denali says:

    Well said! This was a really quality post. In theory I’d like to write like this too – taking time and real effort to make a good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and never seem to get something done.

  48. North face says:

    It’s so funny that so many people are complaining about an event…not every event you attend is going to be exactly as you’d like it to be.

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>