Reprogramming The Dog: Oíche Mhaith

By Alec Meer on December 19th, 2011 at 10:17 pm.

:(

It’s the season of goodwill. Thus there is no better time to play Terry Cavanagh and Increpare’s Flash game about a family who start off swearing at each other and wind up somewhere far, far darker. Unutterably bleak yet strangely moving with it, Oíche Mhaith is an emotionally brutal but deeply compelling and occasionally perversely funny few minutes.

It’s almost more a short story than a game, but the slight freedom of movement you do have succeeds in making you feel a part of the horror. As does the one moment of real choice also being the one glimmer of hope, but one that is ultimately dashed.

I will say no more as forewarning would reduce this vignette’s effectiveness, but must warn that you should not play it if you are easily offended or in the presence of those who are, or indeed are in an even faintly good mood and hope to remain so.

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57 Comments »

  1. Keymonk says:

    I didn’t really play much of it, but I will say… the music and sounds made me uncomfortable for some reason.

  2. Enzo says:

    I don’t like it.

  3. Andy_Panthro says:

    It is unpleasant in many ways, and there was a point where I thought I could get a “good” ending, but alas no.

    I didn’t realise at first that it’s the character you’re controlling (Eimear) that’s talking to the doll, but after I realised, it made more sense (probably the saddest part for me).

  4. vecordae says:

    Ha! Good times. Says a great deal about the nature of abuse.

  5. Lambchops says:

    Bleak is the word. I’m sure Terry and Increpare are lovely folk but based on this and some of their other work I might just sidle away quitely if I ever saw them.

    Though use of the word “wheesht” made me smile despite the context!

  6. DeathHamsterDude says:

    Oíche Mhaith means good night in Irish, just in case anyone was wondering.

    • identiti_crisis says:

      I though it looked funny; it’s similar to the Scottish Gaelic, spelled Oidhche mhath. No doubt the pronunciation is different…

    • Vandalbarg says:

      Ee-Ha Wah, basically. Dressed down, our language looks vaguely retarded.

    • roryok says:

      Nonsense.

      Tour Dumb Un Caw Caw Millish.

    • Donjo says:

      CHUCKY AR LAW.

      Yeah… …sorry.

    • DeathHamsterDude says:

      @identiti_crisis – There’s a wall in Edinburgh that has all these sayings and whatnot in Scots Gaelic, and as an Irishman, I could read every single one with only having to guess at a word or two. They’re very similar in a lot of ways.

      @Vandalbarg – I say oíche mhaith whenever I’m going to bed, and I just so happened to say it while at a relative’s in America. She said it sounded like Native American! ;) Eh Ha Wah! Ever since then I can’t get it out of my head when I say it.

      @roryok – ‘Caw Caw Millish’. That sounds like crow-speak to me. Is é an cáca milis bréag.

  7. bhlaab says:

    These indie devs are really breaking new artistic ground by making games where you walk to where you are supposed to walk and then watch things happen.

    Maybe if Homefront 2 has 2D sprites and music by Phillip Glass it can be just as artistic

    • Ateius says:

      Damn it, now there’s water all over my monitor. Thanks, bhlaab.

    • randclovis says:

      yep, removing any emotional reaction to what you experience sure does make the game seem stupid!

    • Grape says:

      yep, removing any emotional reaction to what you experience sure does make the game seem stupid!

      …Which it is.

    • lurkalisk says:

      Emotional reaction? It was the tired “bad family situations are bad” scenario with unusually psychotic parents, and it went nowhere interesting (odd, not interesting). It garnered no emotional response from me.

    • Buttless Boy says:

      <3

    • Bobby Oxygen says:

      This didn’t do anything for me neither. The buildup was much too short and the storytelling was too clumsy for me to get even remotely emotionally invested.

    • soldant says:

      SPOILERS:
      It’s another clumsy attempt at being “hard hitting” with all the subtly and delicacy of a sledgehammer to the face, or possibly a comically oversize codpiece. It’s almost as if they spend the whole time going “You get it, right? They hate the little girl! And they’re mean to her, right? Get it?!” only to then give you another sledgehammer hint that they hate her and preferred the son they lost.

      Got no response from me at all because it’s just an overplayed, stereotyped case of emotional abuse taken to extremes, because apparently gamers are too dumb to figure it out otherwise. On the plus side, at least they’re not making people pay for it. Tale of Tales, I’m looking at you!

    • Juan Carlo says:

      Yeah, this was really dumb.

      I agree about the “Sledgehammer” aspect. It’s like the video game equivalent of that movie “Precious” (which I hated for so many reasons that I won’t go into right now).

      The dad fapping to super pixelated porn was kind of funny, though.

    • Eukatheude says:

      That pretty much sums it up.

      And yes, the pixelated porn made me chuckle, too.

    • bhlaab says:

      I had no emotional reaction to it, but that’s beyond the point anyhow.

      It’s like opening a book that’s full of nothing but blank pages but then defending it with “Yeah, but check out the smell of that paper! What a fantastic literature!”

    • haowan says:

      Wow. None of you, amazingly, seems to have grasped the point that the child still loves her parents despite the abuse, and has come to accept that reality so completely that any substitute, even of a better life with loving parents, would be uncomfortable for her.

    • Bobby Oxygen says:

      @haowan
      Well, you can’t really fault us for that, it being delivered so subtly and with such finesse.

      [This is where the world's largest rolleyes emoticon would go]

    • lurkalisk says:

      @haowan

      (edited) I had a response, but decided to let this end with Bobby’s post. Nothing I could really add there…

  8. Jubaal says:

    Very moving and disturbing.

  9. skinlo says:

    Got stuck on the shape puzzle thing =/

    • bhlaab says:

      Each shape represents on family member’s personality. The only way to find out which is which is trial and error. You’d think this would empower the girl (and the player) to mix and match to create their preferred family but no the only correct answer is to return each person to their own clearly defunct personality even though that is counter intuitive. There’s a story to tell, don’t bother trying to get in the way of it– just keep pressing spacebar and take what you get.

  10. undead dolphin hacker says:

    Ok, so the gunshots.

    The first time you hear three (Mom, Dog, Dad suicides). The second time you hear two (Girl, ???).

    What’s the second shot for?

  11. DickSocrates says:

    Filty is Irish for filthy, in case anyone wanted to know.

    ‘Look at dat filty little fecker.’ for example.

  12. Drake Sigar says:

    Well this isn’t so ba-OH WRONG, SO SO WRONG!

  13. mickygor says:

    Oh dear… what’s probably gonna be the only game to make me cry this year and it’s a 5 minute flash game on rails. I always was a sucker for kids with sob stories :’(

  14. Duke Nukem says:

    I actually cried. Really well done, Cavanagh is a genius.

  15. Buttless Boy says:

    Well, I enjoyed it but it’s not really a game, not by my definition. It’s a movie where for some reason I have to move one of the characters to the next scene.

    By the theme I’m guessing it’s a Ludum Dare thing, so on that basis it’s fine. Still, Binding of Isaac did this theme far better.

    • Burky says:

      Exactly. The little re-programming section was kinda interesting, but otherwise it was just “press space to receive trite story”. Why do people waste their time making these, when they could be making interesting actual games instead?

    • 4xis.black says:

      Go make an ‘actual game’ and let us know how it went. :P

    • Coriform says:

      I felt the same way about “To the Moon.” Not to say I didn’t enjoy it – I just felt it was a story that would be better expressed in writing or on film.

    • Blackseraph says:

      What do you consider interesting actual game out of curiosity?

      I would throw a guess, that that would be one where you shoot people? Perhaps zombies? That’s at times only thing people who say such things consider as an actual game. Kinda sad!

    • Dr I am a Doctor says:

      Some gameplay in a game would definitely be nice.

    • rayne117 says:

      Somebody’s projecting, huh Blackseraph?

  16. Electricfox says:

    Keeps crashing the browser for me…

  17. Chuck84 says:

    Eh, I normally like this sort of thing, but it seemed clumsy to me. Abusive blah blah, catholic hypocrisy yada, this message has been put forward, and far more elegantly, in other media before.

    Damning with faint praise it may be, but i must commend the hallway art for conveying well the dank scariness of the dark hall on a cold Irish night. It has to be kept off to save electricity and all that.

  18. Coriform says:

    What a strange autobiography.

  19. Sutoi says:

    That was stupid. It’s like it’s the new fad to make short, bad retro styled depression stories. It wasn’t emotionally engaging, interesting, or fun.

    I will, however, concede that the audio was well done. The music was creepy, and the gunshot startled the shit out of me because it was loud with my headphones on.

  20. ScorpionWasp says:

    I don’t understand all the hate for this. It’s a nice, short, entertaining piece

  21. MadMatty says:

    Well, the wow factor definetly went down after seeing Mike Dianas work:

    warning, its not for kids or offended people:

    http://www.testicle.com/mikediana.htm

  22. Dizzard says:

    I didn’t feel particularly moved by the game to be honest. Although I did feel for Eimear a little, especially at the ending. Although I was probably more sad at the concept rather than this particular instance.

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