FireShock Infinite: No-One Has To Die

By Alec Meer on April 10th, 2013 at 8:00 am.

Everyone? No, no-one.

Reality is mutable. The universe is not one, but many. In one existence, an Alec Meer types these words. In another, he drinks a cup of tea. In a third, and one I wish I was in, he types these words whilst drinking a cup a tea. Like BioShock Infinite, free browser puzzler No-One Has To Die toys with how the concept of alternate realities can create game mechanics (no, I’m not spoiling Binfinite, you all know what Elizabeth’s Tears do, for heaven’s sakes), but this one’s a more sideways, and violence-free, take on it. Essentially, there’s a fire in an office. You, as an unseen visitor able to fiddle with the security system, can close doors and activate sprinklers to try and contain the fire. But every time, someone has to die.

Is there any way in which no-one has to die? Well, try out every permutation of fatality by essentially hopping to a reality in which you made different choices, and answers may reveal themselves. Or everyone may die.

Short and simple, occasionally slightly challenging but far more interested in making you choose who will die based on limited information about them, the power of NHTD comes from repeating its tiny levels with different casualties. What you thought you knew first time around is coloured by what you’ve found out since. Someone who seemed to deserve death turns out not to. No choice is the right choice. Maybe, if you just keep trying again, you’ll make it all work out. Maybe no-one has to die. Or maybe not.

A little harmed by its over-expository writing as mysteries are revealed, NHTD works best when demanding choices, not giving answers. No matter, it’s a short thought experiment in gaming choice, in equal parts sweet and bleak. Try to find yourself in a reality where you can spare 20 minutes for this.

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30 Comments »

  1. Slinkyboy says:

    Please write something about Sang Froid – Tales of Werewolves. Please RPS. I mean, you do love indie, right?!

    http://www.sangfroidgame.com/

    GOTY

    • idiotapocs says:

      THIS, only problem, it has no replayibility, as it’s lacking any other modes besides story. No skirmish, coop, multiplayer, survival mode, whatever. In other words, huuuge DLC/sequal potential.

    • The Random One says:

      Is it out already? I was under the impression it was still on paid beta.

  2. Shazbut says:

    Really enjoying this. Thanks.

  3. Harrington says:

    What a great find. I can understand your criticisms about the writing, though it’s still a lot better than I typically expect from web games. The central mechanic’s a lot of fun and very clever, and the art and music have a lot of charm. Well spotted, Mr. Meer.

  4. razgon says:

    Nice – I have trouble with the last one (For me) with only Steve and Chris… Anyone have a hint to have that is possible?

    • austinhallock says:

      Steve is standing on a door – if you move him the right way, you can lock him in a run. Otherwise you can move him up to the switch and let the water run (but know when to stop the water too)

  5. solidsquid says:

    Actually I’ve been avoiding articles because it’ll be a while until I can play Bioshock and I had no idea there was a significance to Elizabeth’s tears. I knew there was a weird reality bending thing she could do, but not what the trigger was

    • Harrington says:

      That’s really funny. I’d correct you but I don’t think I’d be helping you avoid spoilers then.

    • SiHy_ says:

      I’d even managed to avoid that. Other than it taking place in the sky and there being a man and a woman in it I had no idea what it was about. Oh well.

      • Jae Armstrong says:

        I, too, managed to go into Binfinite completely unspoiled. Happily I’ve finished it now, but anyone who was spoiled here has my sympathies.

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      Thermal Ions says:

      Agreed, though it’s hard to judge how grievous this hint is, seeing as it’s still on my wishlist. These days it’s not unreasonable to expect that until a AAA game goes on it’s first decent post release discount (subjective I know), quite a number of people who want to play it, won’t have played it. It’s a natural progression from the don’t pre-order line that’s extolled by RPS itself. This post release discount is probably the line in the sand after which no one should expect to get any spoiler warning flags.

      • solidsquid says:

        Honestly I don’t think it will be a massive spoiler, I was mostly just pointing out that not everyone does know there’s a significance to her tears. Ironically, if he hadn’t claimed that it wasn’t a spoiler I probably wouldn’t have realised that it actually was one

        • Harrington says:

          I’ll restate my earlier comment: you’re operating under a mistaken assumption. The game remains unspoiled. Trust me.

  6. Kitsunin says:

    Well, there are a few choices which are wrong…but they involve going back on the reasoning for the choices you already made, so it kinda makes sense.

    It’s a pretty cool little game! It really reminds me of 999 in both the way the narrative is delivered and its ultimate plot contrivance, and the way the two support one another…urgh can I not wait to return to the US so I can buy Virtue’s Last Reward.

    One thing I didn’t quite get: Why did they teach the cockatiels the phrase that they did? I have some theories, but it feels like there might be something obvious I missed.

    • StenL says:

      They kept sending the cockatiels who were taught the phrase back to before they were taught the phrase, hoping to prove their theory that a consciousness can find its own universe again with the retained memories.

      • Kitsunin says:

        I did get that…but why “Christina Lives”? I guess it would have to do with that character’s mother? But it doesn’t really make sense.

        • Harrington says:

          I think there was a line in there somewhere that Christina’s mother was named Christina.

          • epoxy putty says:

            Christina as in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-GqSWsISVs ?
            El Psy Congroo.

          • Kitsunin says:

            Yeah, but how does that explain it? Is the experiment in her memory or something?

          • DrollRemark says:

            Because receiving a cockatiel that already knew the phrase essentially proved that “Christina (the mother) lives,” albeit in another universe. Up until that point, there was no way of knowing that she hadn’t actually just died.

          • TechnicalBen says:

            Although a bit muddled (time travel + multiple universes breaks logic in it’s own conception), the cockatiel was presumably from a different universe. Hence it could say “Christina lives”. Other universes in different settings were sending animals back in time. But one got crosswired (more than one, as there are infinite universes in the pretend universe of the game), and they discovered it.

            A much more efficient experiment would be sending trained chimps back in time until you receive one trained in making even better time machines. ;)

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    drewski says:

    Awwww. I has a sad now.

  8. Ernesto25 says:

    I enjoyed this alot bar the ending which seemed a little but of a cop out . Nice pacing and music.

  9. TCM says:

    Strongly reminds me of the Zero Escape games (“Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors”, and “Virtue’s Last Reward”), for multiple reasons.

  10. junsumoney says:

    This is literally a flash version of Virtue’s Last Reward. Down to the flow chart and timeline jumping mechanic and character endings. Pretty cool game though.

  11. DrollRemark says:

    Cool game, but an anti-climax on the ending. I actually expected there to be more game to play after that.

  12. TechnicalBen says:

    Hmmm. Not sure if I can call it a “game”. As the puzzles are far from it. But as an interactive narrative, I’d give it a A*.

    PS, if you take multiple universes to equal multiple saves, this is how I play most games. DX:HR was one of those games that I was determined to get certain endings/results from. :P

  13. SwobyJ says:

    This is basically Mass Effect 3.

    You heard it here. Seriously.