Cat’s In The Bag: Exoptable Money

Idle games are one of the many guilty secrets that live in the windows and tabs that accompany me through a working day*. There’s something comforting about clicking across to a series of steadily climbing numbers, particularly when there’s a narrative involved.

Exoptable Money is Cookie Clicker without the clicking and, indeed, without the cookies. The closest analogue I can think of is Little Inferno, a game that I formed a powerful bond with for the few hours that it smouldered on my screen. Exoptable has two forms of input – the first is a lever that activates the Money Machine, causing it to spew dosh, and the other is a pull rope that brings down a shop menu. Your goal is to make as much money as possible. How you’ll make it and why are revealed as the story unfolds. It’s grim.

You buy things, you watch the numbers rise, you occasionally open a letter from the increasingly sinister Mrs Sinclair or important man of business and politics Dr Money. Simple. I had the game running for most of the afternoon yesterday and reached the ending. It’s worth getting to that point. Nothing happens unless you’re watching the screen at the time so there’s no danger of missing out on the messages that form the narrative, and there’s enough humour sprinkled among the macabre goings-on to make it worth the small effort.

There are hints of a war reminiscent of 1984’s far-off conflicts (which, I suppose, makes it a war like many others) and people in the East and West giving up the fight because they don’t have the energy to battle for ‘their cardinal direction’ anymore. There is a creepy current running through the correspondence. There is a sad interlude involving a cat.

Exoptable Money isn’t as polished or pointed as Little Inferno but it made me smile and it made me cringe, and it made me think about things as well. Mostly about the poor cat and…well, you can download it here to see for yourself.

* yesterday’s other dirty secrets that aren’t particularly secret included Supergrass, last night’s Hell in a Cell pre-show (haven’t watched the rest yet so don’t spoil it, ok) and a highlight video of Bury FC’s 1-1 draw against Southend at the weekend.

9 Comments

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    Harlander says:

    According to my sources, ‘exoptable’ is an obsolete term meaning ‘very desirable’ . That said, that source is things referring to the same 1913 dictionary whence came ‘revengeance’, so take that with the seasoning you deem fit.

    • Llewyn says:

      According to the OED, exoptable was defined as “to be desired or wished” in Blount’s Glossographia, published in 1656. It’s hard to tell if Blount was aware of revengeance, or considered it a suitably Hard Word to include, as the only obvious online version of the Glossographia is not Blount’s at all. However he might have been, as the OED cites 15th century sources for revengeance.

  2. Llewyn says:

    Edit: Replying is advanced commenting, apparently…

  3. iainl says:

    I was interested in this until I heard about the cat. I’m not up to games that do nasty things to cats, for I am a wuss.

  4. sub-program 32 says:

    Can I ask if what happens to the cat is explicitly gory or sudden? (Its probably a deciding factor in my willingness to play this game)

    • Kitsunin says:

      It’s not exactly a jumpscare , but (SPOILERS, IF YOU AREN’T SUPER SQUEAMISH DO NOT READ JUST PLAY) you control the moment “it” happens and you’ll probably know when it’s coming, but it does happen after a bit of very subtle rising dread, and it is a bit bloody and otherwise graphic, though there isn’t viscera if I remember correctly.

      • sub-program 32 says:

        Thanks for the info! If you control the moment then at least I know when it might happen.

        • Idealist says:

          Actually, even if you are actively avoiding doing what your instincts are telling you is risky, the cat is still a goner. I was so pissed when the game forced it on me in a way that no one would expect. The only winning move is not to play.

  5. JimmyG says:

    I beat it in just over an hour. I’ll agree about Little Inferno’s superiority, since that game made me feel like I should never play another videogame ever again — in a wonderful, upsetting way. With Exoptable Money, I couldn’t understand what the game wanted me to feel — if anything — and I couldn’t really create any meaning by myself, either. I was looking hard to do so, too, because “lol nihilism” isn’t good enough and it’s certainly not somethin’ you play for the mechanics.

    But if you’ve always wanted a Kafka/Kubrick mashup in GameMaker, you might dig it. Except for, you know … the cat.