Raise Your Game: A Mother In Festerwood

Yeah, I already used that headline for my Parliamentary Games Day article but this time the pun is different! It is so different. A Mother In Festerwood (via the indefatigable Indie Games blog) is a browser game from the creator of Covetous about rearing a tiny two-pixel baby to survive in the terrible forests around your isolated cottage. The further you let your precious child wander from the cottage the faster he’ll gain experience, but let him wander too far and he’ll disappear off into the forest, leaving you to chew your nails and pray for his safe return. It totally plays up to my fascination of games which cast you as someone who merely supports the hero. I don’t want to spoil anything else, so go play!


  1. SOAD says:

    is that pedobear in the forest?

  2. Shazbut says:

    My child won’t come home despite being on the verge of death. I am a bad mother.

    • OJ287 says:

      Wrong! The real culprits are the teachers/police/government/Marilyn Manson.

  3. Giant, fussy whingebag says:

    It’s bugging out for me – for some reason it keeps kicking back to the menu every few minutes…

  4. Ian says:


  5. slM_agnvox says:

    While it is arguably fresh gameplay to play the support character -so commendations for that- this example just carries on randomly until RIP. So yeah, dead 14 year olds.

  6. Malawi Frontier Guard says:

    It’s an interesting concept but it needs a lot more work. I’m wishing for a more complex sequel using this as a foundation.

    Edit: Nevermind. It has an “artist statement” so it must be Art. Art never has sequels.

    • godgoo says:

      hahahahaha as a Fine Art grad I support this sentiment!

    • johntheemo says:

      To his credit, though, if he’s writing an artist’s statement, he’s probably in school for it, and re-creating past work is anathema to most professors. Also: capital Art. Ohhh, yeah.

  7. roBurky says:

    This is lovely.

    The ending came rather abruptly, though.

    This comment on newgrounds amused me:
    “This game is just… bad
    The childs movement is unbelievably stupid and he oftens gets out and there is no way to get him back.
    The child constantly gets lost and dies which pretty much erases all of your progress too”

    • Gpig says:

      This comment is good too:
      “I’m not sure this can even be classified as a game. So you move around your mouse, which controls the mother….. then you have this kid, but you can’t control him…. OK….so how much fun is it to swing around your mouse and wait for a giant creature to kill your kid?
      The thing I hated the most was when I see this kid walking towards a huge monster, and what can I do about it???? Nothing”

      helicopter gamer

    • Neut says:

      One day we’ll have a generation of parents wondering why their kids don’t come with gamepad support.

    • Jahkaivah says:


    • Foxfoxfox says:

      I mean you don’t even press one butten

  8. jolson42 says:

    Yeah, I’m getting the resetting bug too, on Chrome / Mac OS X 10.6.6.
    It’s pretty bad for me personally, because I’m very susceptible to ragequitting. I was all “No little guy, don’t go near the bat! … … OMG, you killed it! Awesome!” Then it reset twice, and I closed the tab.

    • James G says:

      Same here, Opera. I kept having my kid die at 10 years old, then on coralling him until 19, he made a break for it, spent three years in the wood killing stuff and butting up against the right hand side of the map. Then, poof, back to the main menu.

  9. bonjovi says:

    on 4th try : age 23 dragon killed him.

    no idea how can he replenish life thou. been back to house couple of times but never recovered.

    edit: 5th try finished the game. i think. 25 or so, i was lucky he didn’t fight and rkeept running away form big monsters.

    I was hoping he can carry on until old age :-)

  10. CMaster says:

    Some AI on the part of the child would be helpful – being down to 1 heart – ie badly wounded – and not coming home seems a bit daft.
    Also, surprises me a bit that there’s no real summary or judgement at the end, when the intro implies that there will be. You can keep corraling them in until 25 in practice it seems.

    • snitchy says:

      What did it say at the end? I got to 25 and then the game kicked me back to the main screen. There was a message, but it flashed for less than a second.

  11. Bennus says:

    First go, died at 17, second go died at 7 (yeah, that’s progress). Third go, he wandered off aged 18 and survived, as far as I know.

    I was thinking whether it’s the case that the more you deny the child from straying very far, in early years, the less likely they’ll come back in later years. Leaves room for an expandalone.

  12. HermitUK says:

    If I’d come across a man-sized spider at the age of ten, I suspect my first thought would have been “Blimy, that’s a massive spider”. At no point would I think “I can take this bastard on with my bare hands”, though maybe kids in Festerwood are born without the self-preservation and common sense genes.

  13. Moonracer says:

    An expansion should make you as the mother have to work for a meager living and have the son come back once in a while and go “Hey mom, my armor wore out, can I borrow 500 gold?” or some such.

  14. johntheemo says:

    I played for about 5 minutes thinking, “How do I control the stupid kid?” Then I pulled my head out of my ass and realized what the creator was going for.

    I fear that some damage has been done to my brain that doesn’t allow me to view games from any other perspective apart from “you’re in control. Save the world. Or make complicated chains of bonders to form a molecule to output.”

    Edit: stuff like this also begs the question of what playing a game really is, which is something that excites me. I love metafying things. It’s a great way to gain insight into the reasons we, as humans, make the things we make.

  15. Josh Brandt says:

    Huh, chasing a baby who seems determined to head straight for MORTAL PERIL? This is pretty much what it’s like to be a parent.

    So, yeah– I suspect that nobody else who has commented so far has kids. I do– he’s a little over a yeah old, and that thing where the baby heads straight for DOOM? That’s what he does. Even since he learned to crawl he’s been determined to find the places in the house and around that can do him the most injury. All we, his parents, can do is try to head him off. This requires eternal vigilance– block off part of the house? He learns to climb!

    There’s also a movement called “Free Range Kids” (google it yourself…) which is a reaction to the overly-protective parenting of the past couple of decades. Parents in the US have become incredibly protective of their children, to the point where they don’t get to do anything interesting and don’t get to explore the world around them– every minute is scheduled, they are driven from driveway to school and picked up at the school door in the afternoon and driven straight home. I’ve even heard of parents who would rather drive their children (age 8 or 10) 2 blocks than let them walk down the street, in case they just happened to be outside while some kind of child predator happened by to kidnap them from the street a hundred yard from home. (Spoiler alert: This pretty much never happens.)

    Anyway, did any other parents find the core gameplay here as familiar an activity as I did?

    • Richard Clayton says:

      @Josh: Just played it and enjoyed. I’ve got 3 children (10,9 and 7) and I lost my first child (in the game) at 8 years.

      Odd as I was only thinking the other night how tough it must have been when I went travelling aged 19 and they only got the occasional post card or phone call. At one point in the heart of Turkey I believe we went about 3 weeks without making contact. Long before the advent of mobile phones and email!! And then I think of my brood and how I could simply let them go off to another country with nothing but a rucksack on their back. I think I’ll corall them in from the forest a few more years but then I’m going to have to let them make those steps . Only by having children can you really appreciate that level of anxiety!!

      So yes it had an added poignancy.

      I agree that a button to call the child back (even, as in real-life, it was rarely ineffective) and a little increasing self-preservation on behalf of the growing child would have helped.

      Mine got to 24 before he got eaten by a dragon. 24 years of hard work gone. Kids, eh? Ungrateful sods.

  16. snitchy says:

    Reminds me a bit of Majesty which I thoroughly enjoyed as a kid. I liked the feeling that it was a wide open world filled with monsters that you couldn’t protect all your citizens from and that many times they willfully ran headlong into danger.

    Also, watching the mother in this game grow old – that tugged at the ol’ heartstrings a bit.

  17. OJ287 says:

    Its his mother.

  18. JackShandy says:

    This game needs a button to yell to your son, to bring him back home. But then if you abuse it eventually he would eventually stop listening, leaving you crying on the doorstep.

    Also, taking him into your home should definetly heal him.

  19. DOLBYdigital says:

    Interesting that my kid did the best when I got stuck on the fence and couldn’t move. Its almost like that bug was a statement in itself :)

    I could really see this expanded a bit with the ability to heal him and also call for him. It could also go into how you have to eventually let you kid go off on his own whether he dies or not. Sometimes he can bring back a chick from another town. Simple cool game

  20. kulik says:

    Wait till his around 12 and then let him wander of to the direction with the lowest danger.

  21. Froibo says:

    That boy aint right.