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