Continue? Stars A Game Hero Making Peace With Deletion

By Nathan Grayson on November 16th, 2013 at 1:00 pm.

And also giant teeth monsters.

The game’s full name is actually Continue?9876543210, but fitting all of that in a headline would’ve required a piston-powered clamp, a really big hammer, and a shrink ray. This one looks magnificently fascinating, though. You might recognize the Swords & Sworcery-esque art style from the surprisingly solid Skrillex Quest, which developer Jason Oda also infused with his glitchy sensibilities. Continue, however, is far less tongue-in-cheek, aiming for heavy heartstrings over light and flighty giggleboxes. You play as a recently deceased videogame hero wandering a world of Random Access Memories. Ultimately, you will be deleted, but as you wander a fraying, pixelated landscape behind the scenes of our favorite games, your goal is to find peace.

Continue was inspired by an actual brush with death Oda endured while lost in the mountains of New Mexico. He calls it a “quest for wonder, contemplation, and peace,” which is pretty far removed from the blood-drowned holy grails of most defeated game characters (revenge, vengeance, and revengeance). Here’s the basic setup:

“In the garbage dump of the Random Access Memory, you travel from town to town, meeting people who offer you their lightning and their prayer. Each prayer builds a shelter in a distant town where you must frequently hide to avoid being deleted into nothingness by the garbage collector. Along the way, you are thrust into many battle challenges. There is ultimately, no way to escape the garbage collector, but running from it buys you time to think, wander, contemplate, and hopefully be at peace with the inevitability of your deletion.”

It’s pretty interesting from a structural standpoint too, given that each new game randomly assigns you one of six characters and six of eleven locations. Oda hopes to offer a different experience each time – all of which will be very much open to interpretation.

Continue is on Steam Greenlight right now, and it should be out sometime next month. Assuming it’s not too heavy handed, it could be quite an illuminating adventure. We die in games all the time, but it’s usually meaningless, a minor setback. It’s high time we start digging a little deeper.

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29 Comments »

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  1. Ultra Superior says:

    ugly ass blocks strike again

  2. Premium User Badge

    yhancik says:

    From the “small head, long limbs” Sword&Sworcery school of character design ;)

    Looks intriguing, although most gameplay parts seem to only consist in killing large blocky mouths and running.

    • lautalocos says:

      don´t forget short shorts. i can see the hero´s pale legs from a mile away

  3. Marmalade Man says:

    I love the idea of a dead character exploring the fractured worlds left in memory.
    I just wish they had been a bit less conservative with the art style.

  4. LVX156 says:

    “We die in games all the time, but it’s usually meaningless, a minor setback. It’s high time we start digging a little deeper.” I think Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls dug quite far enough.

    • Kitsunin says:

      Yeah. It’s a really hard task to make dying feel like anything or than either “Meh” or “Oh goddammit now I have to do crap over again”.

      The second is meaningful, but in a frustrating way. If we can have it meaningful but in a satisfying way, I’m all for it, though.

      • Philotic Symmetrist says:

        I quite like the way death and consequences work in XCOM in ironman mode. Since it’s not “you” who dies it isn’t simply a game over, restart response but you have to deal with the consequences of losing significant soldiers and try to press onward, seeing if you can claw your way back from disaster. It’s a more persistent significance.

        • Kitsunin says:

          Absolutely, and Fire Emblem is pretty much the same but better (As long as you’re playing on the right difficulty and not resetting), since the characters you’re trying to keep alive are actually characters rather than randomly generated guys you name.

          • bill says:

            I vaguely remember that in the Fire Emblem I played, if they died they just continued in the cutscenes, but weren’t available in the battles… though I might be remembering wrong. I don’t think the game made a big deal of them dying.

            then again, I got fed up and gave up on it when 3 of my best characters died in one mess up, and then it wanted me to replay a few hours of gameplay. It seemed like a nice-enough game until that point.

          • Kitsunin says:

            When I think about it, you’re right. It’s a great idea, but FE does too much to botch the systems for it to work as well as it should. The majority characters do die when you lose them, but any that have a place in any cutscene won’t. It’s pretty stupid when a character that could have had more impact by dying instead just “Retires” and pops up in a scene to say something completely inconsequential. Would it really have been too much work to change the script a little based on who is dead? I could understand if it were one or two more important characters (Just Lissa and maybe Frederick from Awakening, for instance), but when it’s everyone who can have a kid it’s kind of dumb.

            In addition, because enemy reinforcements act the turn they arrive it can lead to really stupid shenanigans, like a mage with Rexcalibur and an archer both popping up from one edge of the field with no warning, and blam down goes your Falcon Knight and your Griffon Lord in one stupidly unfair shot.

          • Philotic Symmetrist says:

            I prefer the feel of the consequences in XCOM actually because they are more generic, since in Fire Emblem I feel that I absolutely have to make sure everyone survives so that I can see their stories (I’ve been playing with death being permanent but have been reloading- contemplated trying self-imposed ironman on a second playthrough, not sure if I’ll really try it though), whereas in XCOM I am more comfortable in trying to continue on in spite of losses.

            Also, because the characters don’t have their own scripted stories in XCOM the interesting stories resulting from the gameplay come to the forefront a bit more, like in my current playthrough where due to a couple of failed missions and essentially a complete squad-wipe I’ve been without a real sniper for a few missions and instead I’ve ended up with a rookie who stepped up as a heavy who has held my team together as we’ve rebuilt, made his way to becoming a major (before I managed to get a sniper even to corporal) and earned the nickname “lights out” (randomly generated) which I felt fit perfectly with his tendency towards using excessive quantities of explosives to make sure his men survive.

  5. realitysconcierge says:

    Wow what an amazing concept. I applaud the developer for finding such a unique subject to explore and look forward to playing this when it comes out.

  6. TechnicalBen says:

    Looks at a fitting and actually unique art style. Notes it uses voxels to some degree in a fitting environment and story.
    Sees comments on this page.
    Looses faith in the internet.

    • Ultra Superior says:

      Voxels. LOL

    • sirdavies says:

      I don’t mind voxels. Voxels+ridiculous lighting+overexposed colors and shading? Not attractive at all. It’s the difference between S&S’s characters and the blurred figure featured in the video.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        I think it looks absolutely gorgeous in its own right, as well as being a perfect fit for the subject matter.
        Oh well.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Standard argument over whether rendering them via polygons disqualifies them as voxels.

      (Actually I don’t see any evidence of so much as a voxel terrain model here, so it really is just “ugly cuboid polygon meshes”.)

    • dE says:

      Why did you lose faith in the internet? Because there was only one negative comment about cubes and you had expected more? Or did you make the common RPS mistake of seeing that one comment and extrapolating it to EVERY commenter ever in existence? :P

  7. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Now I get to feel guilty every time I uninstall a program. THANKS GAME

  8. jonahcutter says:

    Love the idea of a game exploring the inevitably and perhaps permanence of death.

    It’s one reason I like a game like Project Zomboid so much. There’s a very real sense that death is inevitable, no matter how resourceful or determined you are in putting it off.

    The recent Robert Redford film All Is Lost another (excellent) piece of work with a similar theme. Quiet and contemplative, but with a constant level of tension as drive.

    Plus, it feeds into the sense of impending doom I normally carry around.

    Jokes aside, I’m definitely interested in this one. I hope they can craft a compelling experience while biting off a chunk of arguably the biggest theme there is.

  9. Monkeh says:

    Sounds interesting and all, but the actual gameplay looks a bit generic IMO.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yeah, it looks like a horrendously arty-pretentious “deep” layer thinly draped over an unimaginative and shallow hack’n’slash action game.

  10. DanMan says:

    Speaking of Revengeance – why hasn’t that one arrived yet?

  11. Eight Rooks says:

    Just posting to say this is out on iOS devices and, yeah, despite some rough edges I rather like it. Controls are somewhat wonky but that’s not going to be a problem for the PC, obviously. The writing does feature some clumsy stabs at meaning but there are plenty of other times it’s very, very emotive.

    The main sticking point is that yeah, under the esoteric presentation it does seem to be a fairly simple, and occasionally annoyingly tough dungeon crawler. Run around, do simple fetch quests, claim your reward (escape the current level faster or get more “lives”, rinse, repeat. The aesthetic might change but the core loop doesn’t alter that much. Still, this doesn’t really bother me – it works, basically, IMO, and I find the whole “What are you struggling for, give up, accept the inevitable” approach to the narrative surprisingly moving. But lots of people will find their mileage varies considerably.

    All the same, on balance this is definitely one of my favourite things I’ve played this year, on any format. I’m all for creator intent but games with a Message don’t always sit well with me – I absolutely hate(d) Braid, for example. But I’m loving this. I hope the (somewhat questionable) decision to stick it out around the end of the year doesn’t bury it.