I Cannot Figure Out What To Do In Starseed Pilgrim

By John Walker on March 14th, 2013 at 7:00 pm.

The game isn’t new, but we’ve stumbled our way past it like the blundering fools we are. Starseed Pilgrim is a puzzle game that offers you a peculiar set of abilities, and no instructions. No guidance how to use the “seeds” you can plant to grown variously coloured blocks, nor any guidance as to what you’re supposed to be doing with them. Finding out is the point of the game. I failed at this game.

The game was in the Bundle In A Box, which I am hideously guilty of not having explored nearly well enough. It’s now available directly from Droqen (he of Probability 0)

Pressing the Spacebar plants a seed, of the colour based on the lowest of three dots above your character’s head. Each grows in a different way – pinks very slowly grow straight upward, greens grow a grassy area with hearts in them, and browns grow a strange swampy sludge from which you cannot jump. There’s a black block somewhere below you that gradually corrupts the blocks surrounding it, and a black block above you, that when the game switches dimensions for some reason, seems to have a key in it.

That’s what I’ve learned. Um.

Perhaps you’re brainier than me, and can figure it out. I feel thick. I’m going to see if YouTube can tell me the answer.

Heh – nope, a video of someone having the very same experience as me. And as he puts it in his being defeated by it, “Strange little game, but I like it.” (This video also appeared in my search results, and perhaps sheds equal light on the matter.)

The issue here is that the game costs $6, without a demo. Not a big price, obviously, but it’s rather hard to suggest you pay for a game I haven’t fathomed. I wish there were a demo so you could prove yourselves far smarter than me and them commit to paying.

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31 Comments »

  1. ChrisGWaine says:

    I know that feeling. It was worth getting past it.

    Keep trying to expand and see what you find. The objective isn’t anything particularly outlandish.

  2. Lucas Says says:

    You can also pay 10$ for it, Probability 0, and two other games I know nothing about!

    Not that I know anything about Starseed Pilgrim. Or Probability Zero. I’ve just heard a lot about both of them, and 10$ for them and two lotto tickets is pretty much my breaking point.

  3. Pilmer says:

    I love this game, although I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. Thankfully the meditative pace and lovely sound design ease the confusion. Wot I Understand: pink seeds make heart blocks, which you break to acquire new seeds. Planting blue springy boxes next to heart towers is the only reliable way to hop on top of a pink tower and harvest all of its seeds. The goal seems to be to grow your tower to a star, which hides a key in the nether-world that you enter when consumed by the black goop, get ensnared by an exploding red block, or when you hit a nether-world block. And that key lets you open up the floor when you return to square one once you’ve entered the nether-world, at which point you return to the start screen. The challenge comes from trying to balance the randomization of your seed bank against the seeds you’ve already planted. Still trying to figure out what the next step is — so far I’ve only gotten the key a couple of times, and I can’t tell the difference between “level 2″ and the starting point…

  4. jonbro says:

    I am blown away by the lack of spoilers on the web for this game. Perhaps with the IGF nomination it will get some more players and someone will spoil it.

    Needless to say, it is pretty darn deep. I am about 8 hours into it (tho it probably took me a while), and there is still stuff I am working towards.

  5. SabreWolf says:

    If Farmville and Tetris had a baby…

    ———————————————-
    http://www.indieinformer.blogspot.com

  6. Kamos says:

    I only know two things about this game.

    1) Jonathan Blow is *so angry* that people are talking about Tomb Raider and not it.
    and
    2) John Walker doesn’t know what the hell he has just played.

    I’m interested.

    Edit: I might suck at this game. Damn brown seeds.

    • RagingLion says:

      Yep. I saw all of those tweets from Jonathon Blow on this. It’s now one of his top games fo all time. And Bennet Foddy of QWOP and CLOP fame says if he could only recommend playing one game to play it would be Starseed Pilgrim. So some very high praise.

      I started playing a couple of days ago and have put in an hour or two. I know just a little more than John and have reached some further places but haven’t progressed hardly yet. Seems like I definitely need some more revelations. I think this is the kind of game I could really like though. I’m appreciating the exploration in all senses – everything is just so strange and that’s pretty rare in a game – there’s normally a lot more knowns and common elements from other games to lean on.

  7. Shepardus says:

    The trailer on the website piques my interest. I want to explore the mechanics and whatever world there may be!

  8. honuk says:

    RPS complains about hand-holding in video games

    makes a post disappointed in a game for not hand-holding

    • ChrisGWaine says:

      He didn’t write any such thing.

    • Shepardus says:

      Where does he express disappointment in the game? Confusion maybe, but I’m not reading disappointment.

    • valz says:

      Consider reading the next article before you comment on it. No one is impressed with your implicit illiteracy.

      • honuk says:

        I’m not sure what “implicit illiteracy” means. Which is fine, because neither do you.

        It is, in fact, my rather better-than-yours reading comprehension skills that allow me to read beyond the exact words that were written.

        • The Random One says:

          Curious, then, that everyone read the same article as you and understood it between the lines as “I don’t like hand-holding in games, and this game has so little hand-holding that I didn’t understand what to do, which I found awesome. I’d like to recommend it but as I don’t understand it I cannot.” whereas you understood it as “GAME NO TELL WHAT TO DO, BAD, NOT PLAY”. Obviously your comprehension is a cut above all of ours and you’ve understood what’s double implicit in the article then.

    • Contrafibularity says:

      The only thing I can ascertain disappointment from is that there is no demo to try out if this would be a thing someone would be interested in.

  9. Norskov says:

    Just bought it, and don’t regret it. It’s a charming little thing and it’s quite rewarding having to discover everything yourself.

  10. Baf says:

    The game was in the Bundle In A Box

    Wait, what? When did this happen? I thought I had all the Bundle in a Box iterations.

  11. wu wei says:

    Any chance of an RPS interview with Droqen? I tend to follow his TIGSource threads pretty religiously as they’re always fascinating & fun.

  12. MarkB says:

    I think I like it? I’ve played about 1-2hrs and I’ve had two game changing epiphanies so far. I think I finally have an idea what the overall goal might be.

    I’m hoping further experimentation will shake things up again because it currently seems like I just need to repeat what I am currently doing over and over, which not hugely appealing.

    Packing this in with Probability 0 was a great idea, they are fantastic for completely different reasons and complement each other quite nicely.

    • MarkB says:

      I’ve made it a bit farther and it appears that Droqen knew I would be getting over confident and set up a relatively subtle trick to humble me. Awesome

      • RagingLion says:

        I think I’ve got as far as you by the sounds of it.

        • MarkB says:

          I like that it’s the sort of game you can describe in vague experiential terms and have other players understand what you are going on about.

          I think I’ve beaten it but it’s hard to tell if it’s really over, appropriate for this game I guess.

  13. DickSocrates says:

    Atmosphere is a massive part of what makes a game worth playing for me, so the stark white background and simplsitic blocks mean it’s a world I don’t ever want to visit.

    • Shepardus says:

      Because sounds and gameplay don’t contribute to atmosphere at all, and stark backgrounds are equivalent to no atmosphere, of course.

  14. Cloudiest Nights says:

    http://indiestatik.com/2013/03/15/starseed-pilgrim/

    There. That helps to explain some of the design choices. It also made me purchase said game.

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