Body Shop: Feign

By Alec Meer on September 22nd, 2010 at 9:35 pm.

you are the ninth body. No, just winding you up

Feign, Ian Snyder’s moody, disorientating maze game, is a marvel of minimalism and inversion. Dialling everything down to a bare minimum and intermittently switching between dark and light textures, it transforms what would otherwise be a broadly simple affair into an atmospheric exercise in pleasant bewilderment.

Nominally, this free browser game is about navigating around the near-monochrome maze to collect nine ‘bodies’, which is the kind of terminology that immediately adds a tastefully sinister air to the proceedings.

Really, it’s about screwing with your spatial awareness, using the unsure borders of its washed-out world to turn simple puzzles into more complex ones – and frustrating the hell out of you when you come to track down the ninth and final body. It’s convoluted and a little cruel, but I’m sure you’ll find assistance in the comments below all too soon.

Those of you who do work it out/already know: please flag your tips up with suitably screamy SPOILER ALERTS first, ta.

Oh, and Feign features a sombrely giddying soundtrack by someone called Brother Android, who it appears is something of a respected personage in such fields.

In case you can’t be bothered to navigate this word-maze back to the link at the start, here it is again.

Thanks, Michael Cook.

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47 Comments »

  1. Quasar says:

    Interesting game.

    And yes, I’m stuck on the last one.

    Any hints to be had?

    • Quasar says:

      Ok, figured it out.

      That was… Chilling.

    • Fetthesten says:

      So, yeah. Any hints to be had?

    • Quasar says:

      SPOILER: it’s all about ignoring your instructions

      MORE SPOILER:

      The reason I found the end so chilling is that, even though you can refuse to collect the bodies throughout, at the very end you have no choice. There’s no way to -not- collect them.

      Also got a bit of a chill when I realised that the blocks add up to the number of bodies collected.

      Do I understand the game’s point? Not really. But it was definitely art.

  2. Wooly says:

    Stuck just after getting the 7th body. :(

    • Wooly says:

      I got it! Now I’m stuck on #8! Hooray!

      Spoilersish?

      I’m not sure if I can explain how to figure it out though, I don’t really understand how I got it myself. There’s like 6 cubes leading up to the room with the 7th and you have to muck around walking in and out of the 6 cubes until something happens… And then the room with the body disappears and looks different. Or something?

    • giohas says:

      Yeah, I’m stuck after getting 7 too.

      SPOILERS:

      So you grab 7 and leave the room, and either take the first left or right and get back to the previous area, or go straight and get to the space where you can see the columns from the outside but without the square; the walled in area which you first entered through is still there, less the door, but it’s black now. I just can’t seem to figure out where to go now. Any help?

  3. Eggy says:

    I got all nine but idgi. clearly I am a philistine

  4. sarah says:

    I keep getting stuck after 6….

  5. FernandoDante says:

    SPOILER maybe

    So, I’m supposed to restart the game and redo the entire fucking thing without collecting any bodies? The hell with that.

  6. GreatUncleBaal says:

    I haven’t completed it yet, but I’m trying to figure out why the whole concept is playable rather than irritating the piss out of me – normally this kind of spatial muckabout would have me turning away in annoyance, but I find this quite relaxing. For some reason it reminds me of the Spectrum game Skull (scary red jewel eyes chasing me undendingly – shudder).

  7. Unaco says:

    I got 8, then I had to give up, as I now have motion sickness. I wandered around a lot looking for the 9th, but couldn’t find it.

  8. Antsy says:

    I get to a certain point then start screaming BLACK BLACK BLACK! while mashing the keyboard.

  9. TCM says:

    I found this game terrifying, because I have a primal fear of lost perspective.

  10. FernandoDante says:

    SPOILER
    …but you really shouldn’t care, this game is not worth reaching the end

    Guys, DON’T COLLECT ANY BODIES! You’ll just have to start over.

    That was incredibly cheap, and misleading. And for what? “Goodnight, Darling”????? What’s the point being made here? The perspectives and mindfucks are cool and all, but this is really quite unsatisfying. And is there a reasonable explanation as to why you’re not supposed to collect any of the bodies, then collect all of them at once?

  11. pupsikaso says:

    I’m stuck after picking up 8. Any hints?

  12. Dozer says:

    A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?

  13. itsallcrap says:

    Too frustrating for my attention span. Starts to become like a little like finding the secret rooms in Wolf3D, i.e. walk into every wall to see whether it’s really a wall.

    I was however impressed that finding a new body in a place I could have sworn I’d already been genuinely startled me a couple of times,

  14. bjohndick says:

    I played it twice, first time I got 8, second time I got none, but just ended up in a u shaped room, with what seemed liked infinite blackness in all directions. Gave up after I spent what I deemed far too much time getting lost and being unable to find anything.

  15. airtekh says:

    I got hoplessly lost after around the seventh body.

    However, it’s left me with a strange urge to play Doom…

  16. DrGonzo says:

    Really not sure what I’m meant to be doing. Apparantly not actually doing as they ask. But I just keep moving throught he maze then eventually reach a dead end and don’t know where to go from there.

    • DrGonzo says:

      When collecting bodies I get to the 6th one and it’s a dead end. Giving up now, it’s very cool looking, but not fun or particularly interesting. I think it would make a cool animation or screensaver though.

  17. Consumatopia says:

    Increpare’s Mirror Stage meets Wolfenstein 3D.

  18. Octacon100 says:

    Got tired of looking for the 9th person, stumbled across something

  19. Gamma says:

    got to 7…

    Spoiling

    noticed you get to different “level”s if you go through certain passages walking forward… or walking backwards

    tested a bunch doing this… results consistent on some passages… tried to figure more “magic” passages (walking backward) but wouldn’t find no more to proceed to unfamiliar places

    doing that I found what seamed to be a paralax error… something of a white cealing and floor, but I couldn’t reach it anyway it would get obstructed by some walls that made no sense to be there according to allowed movement (either forward or backwards)

    now that I read what I wrote… its like describing a parallel void.

    its all in my head… lol

  20. reginald says:

    I ended up in a void (skybox) where there were absolutely no floor/ceiling/wall markers to indicate which direction I should go in to find “civilization” again. I would have to consider this an absolute design failure.

    interesting game, but you can’t throw people in a pitch black room and expect them to “guess” where the door handle might be without any hints.

  21. Berzee says:

    [spoiler?]
    [maybe not a spoiler]
    [but maybe]
    Clearly this game is about going throughout your day avoiding temptation to be inappropriately close to folks you aren’t married to, even though voices around you or in your head may instruct you otherwise — and then finally dodging through that disorienting maze to get home to your beloved spouse. So that instead of collecting a lot of shallow relationships (one each of many different poses/people) you cultivate a deep and meaningful one (nine times one pose/person) and drift off happily to sleep.
    With all that philosophizing, I like this game a lot. But I wouldn’t have liked it if I didn’t read spoilers to tell me not to collect the bodies. Sure the game is called Feign but I’m not that clever. I quit and wouldn’t have gone back to finish it or appreciate it, without reading spoilers. =\ Ah well, it was excellent. =)

  22. Noah says:

    SPOILER ( i guess )

    I’m just not sure how I’m supposed to feel exactly. Is the whole point of this game like a big “HAHA YOU SUCKER!!! YOU FOLLOWED THE INSTRUCTIONS!!!!” I actually just feel kind of annoyed, and that feeling is overriding any sense of artistic wonder.

    I had actually started going through not collecting any bodies, and then I restarted after I accidentally touched one and realized you could actually pick it up. So yeah, I’m calling shenanigans on this game, and all further games made by this “artist”.

  23. name says:

    Although atmospherically interesting and a bit original, I’d have to say, like others, that the game is simply unsuccessful in design; in the attempt to be abstract, it comes off instead as ambiguous and somewhat unintelligible. I assume either the creator felt that the message was easily extractable given the product or that the message was supposed to be as vague as so many have interpreted it to be. In the case of the former, I can’t say it is; the game can be abstracted from so many different perspectives, each as valid as the intended message that the intent is lost in the multitude of possibilities. Am I helping these sorrow-ridden individuals? Am I participating in some kind of “exchange” with them? What is “collecting” them supposed to be abstracted to in this game? What about “touching”? What about their poses? What about the maze itself, are any of these supposed to be an abstraction of something? I feel that the things that are supposed to have meaning and the things that don’t are arbitrary to the player. The author put together a game that does feature the important content, the content that illustrates the intent, but that content is indistinguishable from the unimportant stuff. If there are no unimportant bits and everything does indeed have a meaning, what it all means is really lost on me as a player, I’m simply not given enough information to come to the conclusion I’m “supposed” to come to.

    All in all, interesting but not very meaningful. A bit harshly, but Calvin said it best, “Provoking a reaction isn’t the same as saying something significant. Look, pal, there’s no point expressing ideas if you can’t make them understood! You’re just babbling to yourself!”

  24. sexyresults says:

    Gave up after 8 but it was neat

  25. Unaco says:

    OK… So, now I’m going to try ignoring instructions. I’m not going to collect the 9 Bodies, and I’m not going to use the A/D and arrow keys to move. While I’m not doing all of that, I’m going to go into my office, and maybe install Dwarf Fortress, because that diary has got my interest piqued yet again… although I remember it not working last time I tried it.

  26. noggin says:

    argh, got to the end and picked up the row of 9 bodies in the same pose and missed the little message that flashed up in the bottom right corner – can someone tell me what it said?

  27. Aubrey says:

    Nice stuff. Love the style.

    The UDK art game Hazard does an awful lot of the same tricks (plus some more), and it’s probably worth at least name checking it here.

    http://www.udk.com/showcase-hazard

  28. JonFitt says:

    I got through he maze again without collecting anyone, and I found the area where the blocks appear (or don’t) depending on if you have collected anyone.

    How do I get from there to the unlocked ending part?

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