La Femme D’Argent: Air Pressure

Yeah, this screenshot makes us look well cool. Yays!

Going through the RPS mail from when I’ve been away, I hit upon Cooper bringing Air Pressure to our attention. It’s a conversion of Bentosmile’s original into Flash, and is a short visual novel with three endings. It involves GIRLS again. I should turn this into GIRLS! week at RPS or something. Actually… I’ve had worse ideas. Inverting the straight to the sexy approach and… nevermind. This is slight but atmospheric, and suitably open to interpretation. Go plays.


  1. RobF says:

    I thought this was rather wonderfully constructed.

    I shall say no more for fear of SPOILERS but yes, excellent stuff and an unusually adult treatment of its subject matter.

  2. jsutcliffe says:

    You’re just rubbing in the fact that my Moon Safari is too scratched to play :(

  3. terry says:

    Man, that’s some awkward-ass dialogue.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      Was reminded of this.

    • Wulf says:

      It was, there were some parts that were a little… cringe-inducing.

      Still, a very interesting idea and rather well executed, nonetheless!

  4. Linfosoma says:

    I think I got it, she’s a dinosaur in disguise am I right?

  5. Helm says:

    The writing is not very well done but there’s more to writing to writing (??!! you know what I mean). The idea is solid and the interactivity of it makes one think about the point of this more fully than they’d allow themselves to perhaps if it was a fleeting thought. It could be fleshed out but perhaps some of its charm is that it feels like something someone made to get off their chest in a week.

  6. Vinraith says:

    That was… interesting. I played it twice, I’m not sure I understood the second ending I got.


    What was up with the hospital?

    • Tiny says:


      Prretty sure


      he tried to kill himself. He was being all gloomy when I got to that part, and no vital nerves or arteries were hit this time or summat? The nurse also asks “why did you do it”, so yeah.

    • Vinraith says:



      That’s what I got out of it. Well, that or drug use. Either way I can’t seem to make the metaphor work, though.

    • Gap Gen says:


      In mine he ended up in hospital after feeling positive about life, so I suspect it’s not suicide. The hazy edges around Leigh also suggest that something’s iffy. I’m gonna go for the drug analogy as well.

      Interesting game, though.

    • Michael says:

      I may just be sleep deprived and completely missed the point but never realized how stalkery dating sims were. I kept half-expecting someone to get stabbed.

    • Stromko says:

      Just think about what the choice was that got you that ending, why such a choice would be something you can’t take back, and the implications of your motives for making that choice.

    • Stromko says:

      *SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER* (As if I was too vague before, I think it is likely that he’s trying to get closer to the girl hint hint)

    • Wulf says:


      I think I figured it out by the second playthrough, and it took a few more playthroughs to confirm it for me, but this is a highly subjective game so your mileage will vary.

      I took it as drug use, a very specific kind of drug that allows him to hallucinate her, basically it makes an imaginary friend real, and it lasts for quite some time, whenever he wants to get closer to her he takes another hit, but he keeps feeling he’s too dependent on her, which is indicative of his addiction. In the hospital ending it’s interesting because he talks about the drug use (Leigh) as if it were part of him, and allows him to express himself, and he’d feel less of a person without it (coincidentally, Leigh likes to point out that he’d be less of a person without her).

      However, in one ending, I totally brushed her off and forced her out of the house, and he was pleased that he was no longer dependent on her, that this had opened up many doors in his life, that he’d realised that she was bad for him, and that he had no clue where he was going from here, but the freedom felt exciting and liberating, like nothing he’d ever done. In other words, he’d kicked his drug habit, gone cold turkey with it.

      And another one ended rather abruptly with him thinking that he couldn’t deal with this, but he couldn’t let his life go on like that any more either, and Leigh was looking pretty sad too, so I took that as a suicide ending.

      You may have noticed that she was sort of phasing in and out, too, right at the end, and this is where they do talk about getting closer, so I’m taking that as the drugs wearing off, and in order to perpetuate the fantasy he has to take another hit to keep Leigh around, to remain entrenched in his own fantasy he has to keep up the drug use.

      And there you have it.

      That’s my take, anyway.

    • ExplosiveCoot says:


      My take was he woke up in the hospital after a drug OD. The key line for me that cements the game is about drug addiction is “From the second we met, she wrapped herself around my left arm, and has stuck there ever since.”

      Really the writing is a lot better when you read it keeping in mind the girl is a metaphor for addiction, it sounds very awkward as actual dialogue between two humans.

    • Rich says:


      I managed three endings; kicking her out, ignoring it and just carrying on (although that may have been suicide) and going to hospital. I guessed she wasn’t real because she flickers, but I didn’t make the link to drug use. I thought the fact that he ended up in hospital and the nurse said he “didn’t hit any major nerves or arteries” suggested that “getting closer” to the girl was self harming that had gone too far or a suicide attempt.

  7. Lambchops says:

    I got the ending which pretty much made the point of the thing clear the first time; which probably lessened the effect of it all, but it was a fairly neat idea.

  8. mbp says:


    This is not why we stormed the beaches of Normandy a thousand times. This is not why we stood defiantly with handful of Roman legionaries against a thousand screaming Gauls. This is not why we single-handedly slaughtered a million caco-demons before emptying a smoking rocket launcher into the exposed brain of the icon of sin. This is not why we catapulted ourselves through the air in order to bludgeon the NiIhilanth with a monkey wrench.

    What has happened to us Kieron? How on Earth did it all come to this?

    • Rich says:

      Monkey wrench? HIERATIC!


    • Ryuga says:

      YES! THIS! I wholeheartedly agree! Give me vehemence, give me anger, give me something.. not this lukewarm melancholy.

  9. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    What’s considered an “ending”? I think I’ve seen different texts describing a similar ending, though I’m not sure if those are different ends or simply the same end with slightly branching ways to drive the point home.

    So far I’ve seen them ending together, the guy getting his independence and the hospital bit. Am I missing something?

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      They’re the 3. Stay, she gets closer, she leaves.


    • Diogo Ribeiro says:

      Oh. Guess I’ve seen them all.

      Hmm. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a bad experience and it’s not like I was expecting a soap opera, but the brevity of it and the way it hammers in the main points of the story so quickly and with little effort (the hospital ending and the visual corruption) kinda undermine the strength of it. By comparison, Today I Die and I Wish I Were the Moon are also short but also more… Subtle yet revealing and powerful in more meaningful ways?

      Not sure those are the words I’m looking for though.

    • Idle Threats & Bad Poetry says:

      Diago nails exactly how I felt about the game. It wasn’t a very rewarding experience. It was light and without much substance. I’m sure the author/creator can learn from this experience, though, and make something more powerful.

  10. haircute says:

    It is heroin. He is trying to quit heroin. Right?

    • Quasar says:

      That’s how I interpret it. Was pretty smartly done, really. Things started to seem a little odd when she was being extra needy later on, made me think something like that would be behind it.

    • haircute says:


      I suppose my first hint that this girl wasn’t really there is her habit of distorting every time you make it sound like you are about to be done with her. The hospital bit, especially talking about the arteries and nerve endings, made me think heroin. It has to be something nasty like that. I guess I’m surprised that the protagonist was able to live for a few years under the yoke of heroin. I knew two people in the last few years that became addicted to the stuff and both were dead within a year of first injection.


      But, yes, I really enjoyed this too. The music and story just seemed to mesh well with this dark, laid back afternoon I am having.

    • A-Scale says:

      Yep, hence the arm metaphor.

    • Wulf says:

      Oh damn, I should’ve read further down.

      That’s what I took from it, too. Drug use. My favourite ending was basically kicking Leigh out the door, and freeing up his potential, that was pretty neat.

      Heroin(e) though, haha, that’s a pretty neat pun.

  11. sana says:

    I don’t understand.

  12. Jugglenaut says:


    It seemed to me that she wasn’t really there, just a product of his imagination to symbolize something else, based off the dialogue I got after the hospital. It was all about he needed her to be able to be himself, kind of like a mood regulating drug. But who knows.

  13. OptionalJoystick says:


    There are no ducks.

    • zak canard says:

      I’ll be off then shall I?

      Interesting little game, it made me think a lot about two people who meant a lot to me at various times in my life. One was a long gone ex girlfriend, the other a uni colleague. I’d rather not go into the details but as both kinda fit the game theme you can imagine. Nuff said I guess.

  14. WilPal says:

    People, it isn’t in any way related to drugs.

    Other than the fact drugs are addictive, and what the game is about is also addictive. That’s the only similarity.

    • Shazbut says:

      Have you got all the endings?

    • KillahMate says:

      Not about drugs? Then what the hell is it about? ‘Cause that’s the only metaphor that comes to mind, but I can tell it doesn’t fit perfectly.

    • RobF says:

      It’s definitely not about drugs.

    • Vinraith says:

      @WilPal and RobF

      I’d be interested in hearing your interpretation of the hospital ending, then.

    • RobF says:

      To be honest, it’s rather unfair of me as I was privy to the story regardless but Lilliput King meets Mr Nail with Mr Head a little further down.

      One of the things I’ve found most interesting about it is that there seems to be a certain mindset which gets it within a few seconds yet most people tend to correlate the game with a general addiction of some nature, invariably drugs. It’s fascinating stuff.

      I wonder if that’s because for most people this stuff is outside of their experience or if it’s just something that perhaps doesn’t hit their personal radars?

      As an aside, I played through only the once. I found it (even as someone who’s not an SI but has fair experience of it with others) rather uncomfortable. Rather well done but definitely uncomfortable.

    • Wulf says:


      You’re making a logical error: You’re assuming that the creator of the game knows anything about drugs. That’s another thing I got from it too, funnily enough. It isn’t about drugs as drugs are, it’s about all the metaphors and myths that have ever surrounded drug use.

    • Lilliput King says:

      “I was privy to the story”

      “You’re making a logical error”


      “I wonder if that’s because for most people this stuff is outside of their experience or if it’s just something that perhaps doesn’t hit their personal radars?”

      This might be it. It’s not something a lot of people know about or are affected by. It doesn’t get a lot of coverage in media either, so I suppose people just aren’t prepared for it.

    • Atalanta says:

      This might be it. It’s not something a lot of people know about or are affected by. It doesn’t get a lot of coverage in media either, so I suppose people just aren’t prepared for it.

      Really? I mean, it doesn’t get as much coverage as drugs, certainly, but I wouldn’t exactly call self-injury unknown, either.

      Then again, my perspective may be skewed — I know a couple of people who struggle with self-harm in one form or another.

  15. Shazbut says:

    This is brilliant

    • WilPal says:


      I agree, it’s amazing.

    • Lack_26 says:

      Yeah, I really enjoyed it as well.

      Having it as a drug metaphor was the only one that made sense to me (I had the hospital ending first time round, pushed her away the second time, erm… went and watched TV instead of the third time).

  16. SteveHatesYou says:

    I got the hospital ending first. Between that and the game’s title, I assumed that the main character was a hallucinatory pervert who had romanced his vacuum cleaner. Maybe I read Warren Ellis’s blog too much.

    • Shazbut says:

      That was my first interpretation.

      The more I think about it though, the more I’m agreeing with WilPal. Can anyone get Word of God on this?

  17. Sagan says:

    Spoilers in this post.

    Yeah I also enjoyed this game a lot. You really have to play it again after you understand that it’s not really about a girl but about quitting a drug addiction. Suddenly it makes sense that she would be so clinging.

    Also I would like to tell RPS again to get on with the moderators on the forums. (and also turn links on the forum into nofollow links) Because this game was posted on the forum, but I missed it among all the spam. I only discovered the thread later through sheer luck and by then it was already old so I didn’t respond to it.

  18. penor says:

    Too much player/character dissonance. I got the “mass effect-effect” where I didn’t mean to say what I said, just because my interpretation of the dialog options was different.

  19. derp says:

    in most of the endings, there was stuff and stuff.

    And by that I mean he wakes up with a headache – which lends itself to drugs.

    I played through 3 different dealie-whoos, and I think that one makes the most sense.

  20. Sobric says:

    *Spoiler mcSpoilery*

    It seemed like heavy drug reference to me. I mean, once I got the hospital ending, the opening bit with “she just attached herself to my arm” seemed really obvious. It was a nice game though, a bit sad at times but that’s a good thing.

  21. Sir Digby says:

    Ah, that would be an excellent interpretation.

    I originally read it that she was depression or perhaps the comfort of suicide but both of those ideas would have to be contorted serious to work properly, heroin seems more fitting.

  22. Tiny says:

    OK so I’m quite embarassed I didn’t figure that out after playing it four times. As it’s really quite obvious. I think I was too busy looking for gameplay mechanics or presentation quirks to figure out it was all a giant metaphor. Yes, that’s my excuse and I stand by it.

  23. terry says:

    The article title sort of gives it away too.

  24. SteelMilquetoast says:

    Yeah, I figured drugs. The whole “relying on her” thing, the theme of dependency. It makes more sense that way.

    • SteelMilquetoast says:

      Well, this was SUPPOSED to be a reply to something else, but it didn’t post that way, and I’m not sure how to edit my comment, so if this possible spoiler without warning ruined it for anyone, I’m sorry!

  25. KillahMate says:

    Dammit! It’s not drugs. “Without me you’d be like everyone else.” “They’d hate you if they knew about me.” “You missed any major arteries or nerves. – As if I’d be that stupid.” “I should rely on her more.” Not drugs, but doesn’t sound like depression either.

    • Kavika says:

      Uh, doesn’t look like it is replying, tho I hit reply…

      I thought you were being sarcastic, until the last thing you said: “but doesn’t sound like depression either”

      Here’s counters to all your quotes

      “Without me you’d be like everyone else.” – As in, normal people go through life as slaves to the wage, don’t know the bliss, etc.

      “They’d hate you if they knew about me.” – As in, he feels alienated because he thinks people won’t like him if they find out he’s a junky.

      “You missed any major arteries or nerves. – As if I’d be that stupid.” – OD on intravenous drugs and suicide are both possibilities here.

      “I should rely on her more.” – People who DO self-medicate often think this way, even if not quite that explicitly. Like, I can enjoy life, be normal, etc, if I take drugs, so maybe I should just keep on them all the time. The way it is phrased is a story device to blur the metaphor a bit farther.

  26. Lilliput King says:

    Totally self harm.

    “Why did you do it?”

    Guy is cutting.

    • TCM says:

      That’s the impression I got, yeah.

      Hm. Odd that you can only discover that on what might be considered the ‘worst’ ending.

    • KillahMate says:

      Yeah, that’s it isn’t it?

      It’s like, once you see it one way, it becomes so hard to see it for the other things it might be…

  27. cjlr says:

    Is… Is she heroin?

  28. Vitamin Powered says:

    Does it have to be something exactly specific? It could just be a destructive presence in his life, that he could either reject, leave to linger or embrace?

    Though, as rough as it sometimes is within the game, I’m okay with the leaning towards drug use.

  29. Bill says:


    I’m pretty sure it was a suicide attempt. He somehow stabbed himself. If you do heroin, you are trying to get a vein or artery, so I don’t think what the nurse says would make much sense.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Nah. She points out he missed veins and arteries, and his response is “of course, I wouldn’t be so stupid.”

      He wasn’t trying to kill himself, I’m fairly sure.

  30. malkav11 says:

    I did not click with this game at all. I guess it’s supposed to be a metaphor, but being as horribly, interminably single as I am (all my life and counting), every fiber of my being rejects a portrayal of long-term relationship as confining or damaging, even if it’s really not a girl at all.

  31. NieA7 says:

    Interesting game, I’m impressed by the atmosphere it created in such a short time (the music is particularly good).


    I never got the feeling the girl was a personification of Something Bad, but I don’t really know how to interpret it either. I had a vague feeling that I was damaging for her, for at least as long as I was indecisive one way or another (like she was a god – without my faith she’s nothing, hence the fading). The moral I took away was that you need to be sure of your faith (presence or lack of) before you can move forward, but just having it or not doesn’t guarantee a direction (seeing as you were happy with or without her). Maybe I’m too stuck with “cute girl = good person” in my head.

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      The first time I played through it I aimed for the “good” ending – being nice to her and sustaining the relationship. I ended up in hospital nearly dead. That suggests to me that she’s not good for you.

    • NieA7 says:

      @somnolentsurfer – True, but correlation doesn’t mean causation. The drugs thing makes more sense, it’s just that it’s not what I was thinking when I was playing it: it made me feel like the bad guy.

  32. achso says:

    She’s like cocaine, heroin, alcohol and vicodine
    She’s my addiction, my addiction

  33. DMcCool says:

    Haha, brilliant. Made my day. Inventive use of established mechanics to tell a new type of story ..what more can you ask for? The fact we have two different interpretations of what the story means is fine, as it works for either. People will relate it (rightly or wrongly) to whichever story has the bigger emotional significance for them.

    More like this please!

  34. Edawan says:

    When you get it, you will shit bricks !

  35. PleasingFungus says:

    I am and remain deeply confused.

    Interesting, though.

  36. kulak says:

    Man, why do indie games always have the most insightful outlooks on relationships?

    That angsty “im not sure if I like you” kinda feel is a lot more interesting than the common movie/tv tropes on relationships.

    if a little tawdry on its umteenth repition.

  37. Gentacle says:

    She is an ipod.

  38. El Stevo says:

    I think the guy is left-handed. And a chronic masturbator.

  39. Stromko says:

    I think the reality of the situation is pretty obvious once you get all three endings, even though nothing about the true nature of things is ever truly stated. I don’t think the introduction to the story is factually wrong either, just not always literal.

    Maybe a couple of the endings are a bit murky, but the way you get the shocking ending, or more precisely your reason for making that decision, makes it fairly clear what the nature of things is I think.

  40. Vinraith says:

    Interesting. My first thought was suicide attempt, but there’s all that stuff about “of course not” with regards to serious harm. Then I noticed Kieron’s METAPHOR tag and figured that, ill-fitting as it was, maybe it was the drug thing.
    LK’s suggestion didn’t occur to me, and indeed wouldn’t have as it’s both outside my experience and outside my comprehension. Plus if that’s the deal, then it’s not a metaphor at all, so Kieron’s in error.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Vin: So you think the girl exists?

      LK is, as far as I can make out, correct. But I think until you tie it down that tightly, you can apply it to all sorts of similarly rooted psychological behaviour.


    • Vinraith says:


      I haven’t come to a firm conclusion yet, but it seems like if LK is right then the girl is real (which, in turn, doesn’t make a lot of sense to be considering the distortion in her image towards the end). Maybe I’m still not getting something with the “cutting” explanation, though. Are we positing that the girl is a personification of self harm, as opposed to the literal cause of it?

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Vin: Yes.


  41. nine says:

    I Did Not Find This Fun. Maybe I’m missing something crucial, but even now I’ve read the comments here and understand it a little better I don’t find the game compelling or even that it has something interesting to say.

  42. MWoody says:

    SPOILER, of course

    I don’t think this is as much of an allegory as we might think. The obvious explanation is much simpler: he’s addicted to a dating sim character.

  43. geldonyetich says:


    I didn’t really get the drug reference out of playing it – the way she wavers towards the end, I thought she might have been a malevolent hologram or something.

    It makes a lot of sense once drugs are mentioned. Attached to his arm since high school – heroin is injected in the arm, the way she holds him is like a user would hold themselves during an injection. When he decides to get closer to her he ends up in the hospital – he overdoses and is lucky to have avoided the full impact by missing a vein. When he chases her away, life is full possibilities again. A middling path results in the problem never going away. The titular Air Pressure – it’s how syringes work.

    On other aspects, the “addiction = cute girlfriend who won’t go away” analogy doesn’t work quite as well. The moral of the story is almost “be sure to be mean to girls or you’re never going to be able to give up a drug addiction.” Then there’s one aspect of the story where you’re trying to play some music to see if she remembers your song, and she can’t — it doesn’t make much sense, not that you’d try to play music to get your drug addiction to remember, not that your hallucination doesn’t remember what you want it to remember.

    Despite its flaws, in the end, it’s about as successful art game as any. It hits the right cords.

  44. ShadowNate says:

    Initially, I thought he was some kind of a split personality (if there’s a kind that allows personalities to discuss with each other like the Gollum in LOTR). Leigh was part of his personality, and he could either fall back to her or decide he didn’t need her anymore. If he totally gives into her, he becomes crazy (and attempts suicide, or something close enough to feel special and alive).

    Then, I thought it was drugs (or another addiction).

  45. Pew says:

    Obligatory SPOILERS bit:

    I figured it was about dependence. It doesn’t really matter if it is drugs, some kind of coping mechanism to deal with anxiety, or whatever.

    One ending has the main char (it doesn’t even tell if it’s a male or female?) going all out, and ending up in the hospital for cuts and being able to release himself. Doubtful that that would’ve worked with a drugs related incident. Then again, do they just let you out with self mutilation or a suicide attempt?

    Another ending lets you be free from her oppression in a certain way, free to unlock your “potential”. Probably just having free will again, I suppose.

    The last ending lets you stay with her after an attempt or so, but you say “Maybe we won’t be happy but I know we won’t be sad either”. Whether that implies a marital slavery relationship or another form of submitting to something outside of your perceived control, remains unclear. “Too scared to be with her, or without her” would imply a definite dependent relationship with something, combined with the anxiety that tends to come with it. “I can be satisfied with a comfortable life. I don’t need any answers or solutions”, you could easily insert something here like Institutionalized Religion or any kind of societal element that requires the dependency of its subjects. Just forget about your potential and go along with the common stream of life?

    I guess it’s up to us ourselves to define what the dependency is. It’s kind of an art game isn’t it? Of course they’d want us to relate to this dependency in our own ways. An interesting this is that so many people expect it to be drugs. Is it because it’s the most logical or easy conclusion, or are we all drug addicts or peers of addicts/passed away addicts?

    • toro says:

      I was starting to write something like this: “I don’t think is really related *especially* to drugs, it think is a more of a generic allegory for addiction. It can be addiction for drugs, but it could also represent addiction/dependency to someone else.” But then I saw your post and I agree completely.

      I would also throw some wood on the fire: In any relation, there is a moment when the hormones are not working anymore. That is the decisive moment of the relation, when you realize that you have to do a rational commitment to go on with the relation. This game depicts such a moment. But who knows. ;)

  46. Chemix says:

    If nothing else, it’s an interesting metaphor, and like others I didn’t get a drug reference until I read the posts here, upon which, it makes perfect sense. I was expecting SHODAN Home Edition

  47. haircute says:

    Hmmm…I guess I don’t understand how so many people could not get the drug reference. A malevolent hologram? Seriously?

    • Lilliput King says:

      I can’t believe how many people think there is a drug reference!

    • HermitUK says:

      There’s always the less popular “She’s an AI program wired into your brain gone horribly horribly wrong.

      It’d be like living with SHODAN in your head.

    • Vinraith says:


      Different endings have different implications. The “break up” ending comes across, to me, as though they were actually just a codependent couple. The hospital ending has a few possible interpretaions, like the heroin idea and the self harm idea. Ultimately, it’s the “stay” ending, wherein she gets angry at you, that most strongly supports the “drugs” idea and most strongly undermines the “self harm” idea. “No one would find you interesting if it weren’t for me” and “everyone would hate you if it weren’t for me” don’t fit self harm, but they sure as hell fit drug abuse.

    • Lilliput King says:

      ” “No one would find you interesting if it weren’t for me” and “everyone would hate you if it weren’t for me” don’t fit self harm, but they sure as hell fit drug abuse.” ”

      Don’t they? Self harm can help someone to define themselves in the eyes of others, much like drug abuse. The guy is worried that without it, he’s nothing special, just like everybody else. ‘She’ isn’t telling him the truth here, just voicing his fears.

  48. phlebas says:

    I can’t believe this is the only entry under METAPHOR.

  49. bento says:

    “Then again, do they just let you out with self mutilation or a suicide attempt?”

    Yes, if you can convince the doctor the morning after that you’re not suicidal. (It’s not hard. Just smile! :D )

  50. Ryuga says:

    Interesting idea, good-enough execution, but too depressing. Sigh.