Cruel World: Q – Compressing The Heart

Big Ben originally had legs like this, until Oliver Cromwell ate them.

Despite looking a lot like Limbo, Kieron and other haters will be pleased to learn it doesn’t play like it. The deeply peculiar Q – Compressing The Heart is instead controlled by single mouse clicks, as you explore a twisted, dangerously organic world of shadows, in pursuit of your own heart. And if that sounds sweet or romantic, then you’ve quite the wrong impression.

Q is a strangely brutal game, in which your character does some terrible things. It’s very short, and it makes not a lick of sense, but the superb animations ensure experiencing its grimly surreal progression is always engrossing. And grossing.

Hello, I am not Limbo.

Your character possesses the ability to let loose his own soul, presumably a by-product of losing his heart, and possess other living creatures. By doing so, albeit only about three times, you can solve puzzles, usually at others’ expense.

It’s not an enormously brilliant game in any way, other than the art, and that’s why I’m bringing it to your attention. Let down by a ludicrously abrupt ending, the journey is just astonishing as the walls, monsters and characters twist and churn. You can play it here.


  1. Jimbo says:

    Woah! Whoever that Keiron guy is, he’s staggeringly wrong about Limbo.

    • InternetBatman says:

      But even then, I’m left rolling my eyes and thinking “Well done – you have complete control of reality and have managed to make me do something stupid. You must be a fucking genius! I’m so impressed. And with a dark and edgy aesthetic too!”

      Nah, he got it spot on. Honestly, I thought it was cheaper than that. The frequency, inevitability, and gruesome nature of child death in that game was a cheap emotional shot to create atmosphere, and the game had nothing but atmosphere. It was all used artifice to cover up mediocre gameplay and expected to be rewarded for it. It must have been hard to program with those giant hamfists.

    • sneetch says:

      I think he started with the assumption that the designer was laughing at him somehow and took it personally.

      Although I think that having instant, unsignposted death in a game is a complete pain in the ass I thought it was great, I didn’t feel that anyone was laughing at me as I made my way through the game.

    • Oozo says:

      I was not very fond of it, too, but for different reasons. Eric Swain put it pretty well in two (lenghty) blog posts.

      “Limbo, on the other hand, falls flat on its face. The first third is strong with set up for the hostile, unforgiving, mysterious environment where it takes place and then does nothing with it. After the set up point you get the feeling the game doesn’t know what to do with itself other than more puzzles. That’s all the game is. Some set up and no delivery.”
      “In fact Limbo goes on too long because of the puzzles. They ran out of creepy imagery and concepts long before they ran out of puzzles. The final third is full of padding. The shift in setting doesn’t help the game any either. We go from the forest to industrial environments with nary a word or pictorial why. This hurts the game overall.”

      …but that’s not really the subject of this blog post, it?
      (This game is much more likely to spurn the un-game discussion once more…)

    • Fabio Volta says:

      This was an interesting flick to see, actively annoying to play. Whoever created it probably needs a few days of exercise under the sun to sweat off the dark mood.

      From what I remember, Limbo wasn’t as trial and error as Kieron complains.
      I found it brillant because hinted the upcoming dangers, gave you a chance to survive by predicting them, rapidly parsing unexepcted changes in the situation and reacting swiftly. It felt a survival challenge, seeing if or how far I could get unschated in every new area. Loved it.

      The most basic example is as the start of the game. Kieron wrote about it:
      “I sort of suspected I’d hate it from the second I jumped off the first log and it kills you for it. “Prick” I think at the designer.
      Go to the first log and jump off it. If you fall, you’re fine. If you jump off it, you die, because you fall just too far.”

      You are a kid with short thin legs and clumsy running animation. At the log’s edge is a fall already higher than you are tall, going down in a steep slope . Judging the scene realistically, is obvious that kid would easily break a few bones by jumping into the slope.
      That’s not a death of trial and error, it’s failing an elementary puzzle.

      Maybe farther it became more unfair, I can’t remember. Even if so, deaths were a minimal setback and entertaining to see. They didn’t ruin the gameplay because dying didn’t provide the puzzle’s solution, as in more shallow trial and error experiences.

  2. Heliocentric says:

    Limbo had a duff ending too…
    My God its similar in those screenies.

    • Premium User Badge

      Hodge says:

      It’s like he’s taken the fine line between homage and misappropriation and straddled it like an uncooperative pony.

    • Untruth says:

      Web-based round of applause post-of-the-day award to Hodge

    • Jesse L says:

      Very fine job, very fine.

    • Meat Circus says:

      It sounds very dirty, but isn’t.

      A nontendre?

    • Premium User Badge

      Hodge says:

      Well, thank you! In fairness, I’m now almost certain that I’ve subconsciously pinched that line from somewhere, but I can’t think of where.

      Of course, if I have then that makes it self-referential in the worst of all possible ways.

      Oh dear.

  3. Nevard says:

    While I like the atmosphere this just seems to be “click things randomly until something happens: The Game”

    • eks says:

      Isn’t that the formula for pretty much every “point n click” adventure game?

    • Nevard says:

      Usually there’s at least some way you can click on the wrong thing and kill yourself, here there’s only ever one thing that you can click on (and it doesn’t tell you what this thing is)

  4. Tuco says:

    I’ll be honest, that was excruciatingly boring.

  5. Jackablade says:

    You weren’t kidding about the abrupt ending.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    I sillt think it is a lot like Limbo, apart from the gameplay.

  7. jrodman says:

    Well, it was bad, but at least it didn’t make any sense.

  8. Miltrivd says:

    What the hell… It was pretty nonsensical, as a game and as a story.