12 Games of Christmas: You Have To Burn The Rope

What could be in a name? Clues. Instructions. Jokes. Anagrams. Inspiration itself?

For the eighth game of Christmas, my true blog gave to me…

You Have To Burn The Rope.

(Warning: this article contains spoilers)

Jim: Whatever we write about this game, it can’t be long… Kieron always says that you should be able to joke about anything, but perhaps you should also be able to make anything into a joke. Games as one-liners? Puns? They’re already heavy on the slapstick. Anyway, what a peculiar phenomenon this was: an out-pouring of riffing on the idea, as if people want to absolutely confirm that they got the joke. It’s this kind of sudden surge of unexpected enthusiasm that makes bloggery so much fun.

Kieron: Totally. You sit down in the morning with the tea, turn on the computer and never know what the world’s going to present you – and never really know what the world’s going to do when you present something back. And, yeah, it’s the sort of thing you could totally write a proper clever piece of deconstruction around. But why would you dissect that particularly butterfly? Totally commendable. Totally lovely. And – wankmodeon – probably a better artifact of what gaming is about in 2008 than anything you’ll find in the all format top 10 at Christmas. And funny. Funny always helps.

John: I think it’s possible to spend a considerable amount of time being quite specifically wanky about why this was such a good idea, and why it caught so much of people’s imagination. But I also think it’s pretty self-evident. Regarding Jim’s comment about wanting to join in, it was like a viral meme that was just for us gamers. A special piece of smart nonsense designed to make us knowingly laugh. My need to play along was the walkthrough I wrote, which took me a frightening amount of time to create as I painstakingly created the ASCII title, before someone told me that – obviously – there are sites that generate it automatically for you. Now all I have to do is figure out how to complete the game and my year will be complete.

Alec: I just feel so sorry for that poor rope… Anecdote time – whilst visiting a university chum a couple of weeks back, he surprised me by bringing up YHTBTR. This is guy for whom, love ‘im, GTA IV and COD IV were the biggest gaming events of the year, so I wasn’t really expecting him to be so enthusiastic about something that didn’t involve man-killing. Turns out he’d picked up YHTBTR from RPS and adored it – as he proved by singing pretty much the entire credits music at me. “You need to blog about more games like that”, he demanded afterwards. He’s right, y’know. And for that reason, I’m far more excited about what next year will bring in terms of indie and flash micro-gaming than I am about any or all of the big-name stuff we’re due.

And finally, the walkthrough:


  1. The Hammer says:

    The rope – you have to burn it!

    This had me in fits of giggles, and I absolutely had to show everyone I know it.

  2. cyrenic says:

    I love the smell of a good meme in the morning.

  3. monchberter says:

    Surprised you didn’t slip in the comment “this years Portal”. ;)

  4. Dormouse says:

    I honestly found it a bit difficult. I couldn’t figure out how to burn the rope. It was obviously designed for a hardcore audience.

  5. Heliocentric says:

    You have to open a set of holes and go through them to defeat a super computer which has you as a lab rat? Not so catchy.

  6. AndrewC says:

    I found the enthusiasm around this to be annoying, not because the game wasn’t wonderful, but because there isn’t loads of stuff like this around. The overflow of joy cam from it’s rarity, and this is a shame. Joke games about invisible walls, unopenable doors, inventory management and all the other conventions and cliches – they should be everywhere, made by terribly smart people with too much free time. The sorts of people which gaming seems to have a lot of.

    Plus any repetition of a meme always works to kill it, full of second hand, and less inspired, regurgitation, like people endlessly trotting out catchphrases.

    A joke game about memes perhaps, where success only brings the Game Over sooner.

    And, unfortunately, the end-song is just second hand memery of the Portal end-song, and inevitably less funny.

  7. Pace says:

    Well, just 4 games left I believe. I’d assume World of Goo, Left 4 Dead, and Fallout 3 are gimmes, I wonder what the 4th will be? (and whether Goo or L4D will be game of the year?)

  8. Fede says:

    King’s Bounty could be the fourth. But after YHTBTR entered the list I believe we can expect anything.

    Time to go and play this one once more! :)

  9. Cigol says:

    I still don’t get it! lol. :(

  10. Malagate says:

    This always reminds me The quest for the crown.
    Beware of those man-eating plants!

  11. Ian says:

    Where’s the sequel?

  12. egg says:

    Damn it, it’s the second time I misread this game’s title.

    “You have to burn the Pope”, eh?!

  13. eyemessiah says:

    Sequel? You Have To Put The Rope Out Before It Burns Down The Whole Fucking Castle?

  14. Tom says:

    Well, that was amusing. Painly true as well.
    Think i must be getting old. 99% are boring imo. Fallout 3 being a cracking example.
    Role on another decade, then i’ll take another look… fingers crossed. I have high hopes.

  15. ZenArcade says:

    Okay, it was funny the first time but lets drop it now.

  16. fulis says:

    I can’t really articulate it but I like this game for not really being about some challenge, or even about playing the game itself

    It’s just a joke, the way a picture is a joke. It’s more creative than you might think at first

  17. Larington says:

    I think YHTBTR really needed an inventory system that could provide a multitudinous variety of ways for burning the rope.*

    *I don’t really believe that.

  18. Mike says:

    Screw you, Rossignol! The development team behind You Have To BURN ROPE WITH TORCH worked for days on that game! Slaved! And for NOTHING.

  19. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    “You need to blog about more games like that”

    How about this’un?

  20. SuperNashwan says:

    On the subject of little flash games making a point about modern gaming: link to armorgames.com

  21. Fede says:

    I don’t know of sequels, but YHTBTR’s demake is kind of a prequel.

  22. AndrewC says:

    link to armorgames.com

    I like this game a lot, linky people.

  23. AndrewC says:

    OK, now it’s old. Next.

  24. Gap Gen says:

    Yeah, it’s looking a bit ropey now.

  25. jonfitt says:

    This one is in my pile of shame. I still have to go back and complete it at some point.

  26. James T says:

    It would’ve been great if I could get it running at more than 15fps. Volumetric lighting should be OPTIONAL.

  27. drewski says:

    This is such a crappy game. Bad character animation, stupid NPCs, annoying voice acting, dumb plot, crappy combat, you can’t kill children, loads of bugs…Bethesda should be ashamed.

    Wait, what?

  28. TooNu says:

    I have just played this for the first time and thought it was pretty funny :) It has gone well with my Tea and Crunchies, thanks guys!

  29. KindredPhantom says:

    What an odd game.

  30. cocain says:

    maybe watch a video
    maybe press refresh and start again

  31. hydra9 says:

    Here’s my pick of an ingenious, funny little game with a bit of a comment on the internet and things. Highly recommended – Don’t assume anything from the unassuming name!
    link to maths.tcd.ie

  32. Gap Gen says:

    hydra9: I like.

  33. hydra9 says:

    Gap Gen: I’m glad :)

  34. Geb says:

    You Have To Burn The Rope is only half of the story. It has an evil twin, and I’m not talking about that version where the rope attacks you. Its opposite is called I Wanna Be The Guy, a game where you can reasonably measure how often you die in Hertz.

  35. BooleanBob says:

    Actually, wankmode was activated when you started talking about “proper clever piece[s] of deconstruction”. Not that its impossible something to be suitable for deconstruction (the kind of things that are so suited are usually the kinds of things written with being deconstructed pretty much exclusively in mind, well, that and garnering their preening creators the praise of their preening peers), but this is no such thing. This, as Jim pointed out, is a joke. And we all know what happens when you break down a joke to work out why it’s funny.

  36. BooleanBob says:

    @Hydra9: Do you read Dawn of Time, by any chance?

    With apologies for the double post.

  37. hydra9 says:

    Nope. I think I read about this one on IndyGames.com.

  38. Michael America says:

    I find this a nice, relaxing contrast to I Wanna Be The Guy.

  39. G says:

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