Judith Is A Game About Control

By Jim Rossignol on April 15th, 2009 at 12:33 pm.


Judith is a short narrative game by Terry Cavanagh and Stephen Lavelle. It’s a strange little story that is somehow all the more creepy for its extreme lo-fi 3D telling. I can’t really add much more to it than that, aside from finding it oddly familiar. First-person and pixellated it is, and yet Wolfenstein it is not.

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30 Comments »

  1. Smurfy says:

    l0oks gay lol

  2. Butler` says:

    That screenshot is just plain creepy.

  3. jay says:

    Great game (very creepy) but this comments thread is not off to a good start.

  4. jay says:

    Opps, my post would have made more sense if I was the second poster.

    @Butler
    It gets creepier!

  5. Mort says:

    I liked it, despite having even less definition than wolfstein 3d, it still managed to freak me out some times, especially since the music is perfect. Short samples play at exactly the right time to create tension or suspense.

    If nothing else, it´s at least a good example on how some sparse but well chosen music and sounds can create a scary mood almost by themselves (some dialog does the rest). The music isn´t even scary itself, just regular tunes on a piano mostly, probably making it all the creepier when you enter a room and it starts playing and you´re “OMG OMG OMG somethings gonna happen, something BAD” :O

  6. Gap Gen says:

    That’s rather nice.

  7. Jubaal says:

    **CONTAINS SPOILER**

    I really enjoyed that, very creepy. Nice interaction between past and present. However the Jeff ending did seem rather lame, I was expecting a little bit more at the end.

  8. Mort says:

    —-(maybe a minor spoiler)—

    @Jubaal
    Totally, I was expecting a low blow or something myself to cap the overall experience

  9. Jazmeister says:

    I got totally stuck really early on, so I’ll say this:
    IT’S A PIXEL HUNTER!!!

    There, you may now play it without needing a tea break.

    Also, I saw this on increpare’s blog and didn’t really see how it was about control.

    One of these days, though, you’ll download a game like this and it’ll be totally procedural. Graaww!!

  10. sbs says:

    Interesting.

  11. Sinnerman says:

    Walk around a bit in a very simple map then press space to trigger the next block of text. That’s an arty narrative game for you.

  12. Nexus says:

    Judith has indeed wonderful atmosphere and rather nice (although a litte repetitive) narration but it’s hardly a game. There’s no challenge at all, no riddles to solve or enemies to defeat – simply go from A to B to C and game over. If nothing else it’s still an interserting experiment in videogame storytelling and it reminds me of Path.

  13. Helm says:

    Interactivity gives the narration an element of complicity on which the theme builds fittingly. It is however in the end more vague than I had hoped. But it’s a space worth exploring in gaming, I think.

  14. Kieron Gillen says:

    Helm: “Complicity” is totally the word.

    KG

  15. Markoff Chaney says:

    That was an enjoyable experience. I liked the interplay between the locations in time and parallel storytelling to gain the whole narrative. Another excellent example breaking down the boundaries between simple linear storytelling as told through an interactive medium as opposed to a static one. Another fine iteration of a good idea whose time is here.

  16. roBurky says:

    The complete lack of choice in anything was disappointing. Made worse by the way it even takes movement control away from you for a lot of the game.

    Is that it means about being a game about control? That you don’t have any?

  17. Jubaal says:

    **Spoiler Alert**
    I don’t think the reference to “control” is about the gameplay itself, but more about the subtext of the plot i.e. Judith’s husband keeping control over his former wives and their lovers. That is the way I see it anyway.

  18. Xhumar says:

    Indeed, that was very creepy. I thoroughly enjoyed the 20 minutes of solid storytelling

  19. Gap Gen says:

    Jazmeister: Yeah, but the pixels are about 5 feet wide.

  20. l1ddl3monkey says:

    Whats with that opening comment? Did Smurfy get lost on the way to Youtube?

    That was a weird and unnerving experience so consequently I enjoyed it quite a bit. I’m off to shove some more bees down my trousers and then go for a walk in a pollen rich field.

  21. Dave Gates says:

    What an odd ending… interesting though. Look forward to more work from them.

  22. Richard J says:

    Interesting, the first computer game I’ve ever seen to be fairly explicitly modelled (right down to the music) on a Bartok opera.

  23. noexes says:

    Whats with that opening comment? Did Smurfy get lost on the way to Youtube?

    I think we are being trolled people :p

  24. Jetsetlemming says:

    How weird of an ending. I think I maybe know what was going on, but not really. Not really at all. Was there some hints as to why the husband was locking people in his dungeon, had a pile of bloody gold, had a blood soaked armor, had a hidden secret garden, had an underground forest of dead trees that has storms apparently, has an underground pool, and has an dark hidden room full of his past loves? It feels like there’s another two minutes or so of Judith that is missing from the end, probably involving a jump scare of the guy main character seeing the husband, possibly in ghost-form.

  25. Richard J says:

    Making my slightly cryptic reference slightly more explicit, the Judith section of the game’s plot is based on Bartok’s (amazing) opera, Duke Bluebeard’s Castle. The rooms encountered pretty much play out in the same order as in the libretto.

    (There was an amazing concert performance at the Barbican earlier this year.)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bluebeard%27s_Castle

  26. Chris says:

    Wow… how does a game that is so low-res it can’t POSSIBLY contain any scary pics stil manage to make me scared to turn the corner??

  27. Moonracer says:

    I nice experience. While playing it I couldn’t help but feel that it did a better job of being dark and moody in some ways than The Path did (though I still like that experience too).

  28. Hajimete no Paso Kon says:

    Is there an alternative ending or something?

  29. Meib says:

    @Moonracer: This game definitely did a better job at being dark and moody than The Path did. I was never scared while playing The Path event though it’s supposed to be horror game, while I was sure afraid of going into all the rooms and finding out what was inside them while playing Judith.

  30. SofS says:

    *** Spoilers begin ***

    I laughed out loud at the bit where you’re given the ability to choose and only one thing to select.

    I enjoyed this a fair bit. Specifically, I liked the reversal of expectation in the storylines. At first, the storyline in the past seems like the mystery to solve. By the time you get back to the present and open up the passage, though, you’ve already been really heavily clued in that the past is going to be based on the Bluebeard tale type. For me, this meant that the present was brought to the forefront as the real mystery; the past is over and done with, but who knows what’s happened to Emily until she’s found? Using tragedy as a way to add tension to a mystery is pretty cool in my books.

    I would like to know whether or not Emily’s necklace is actually the same necklace as the one in the past, though. Also, are Judith’s dreams commentary on her story alone or on both of them? I read the ending as being essentially a happy one, with Emily and Jeff rejecting the deceit that destroyed Judith, but I’m not sure how much I would bet on it (without hearing some odds).

    Formalism is fun.

    *** Spoilers end ***