Have You Played… My Father’s Long, Long Legs?

Free Twine game My Father’s Long, Long Legs manages to capture some of the uncanny horror of Junji Ito’s Uzumaki using nothing more than a fine selection of words and some cleverly applied sound effects. There are no jump scares here, just a gradual build toward…something. The story gains much of its power through the distorted vagueness of the threat – if it is truly a threat at all – and the obscure reasons for the changes that are occurring.

Although it’s the story of a family, with the player firmly planted within that family, I think Michael Lutz’ writing is suggestive of overheard rumours and neighbourhood legends. With both this game and the later The Uncle Who Works At Nintendo, I’m reminded of stories about neighbours, and about the one creepy house on the next block. They feel like part of the larger, weirder tapestry that is suburban horror.

Lutz looks behind the twitching curtains and the closed doors of seemingly ordinary homes, and finds things that crawl and shriek. Despite the eventual excess of the events in Long, Long Legs, it is, at heart, a family portrait with a single feature out of place. Something – someone – is weirdly and impossibly out of proportion, but the devil in the detail is only seen in passing, at the corner of the eye.

8 Comments

  1. Al Bobo says:

    Yeah, that definitely had that same vague, growing terror that Uzumaki has. Good stuff.

  2. drygear says:

    I’ll definitely have to check this out later. The comparison to Uzumaki definitely got my attention.

    The second paragraph about neighbors and suburban horror brings to mind the song/ spoken word piece What’s He Building? by Tom Waits: link to youtube.com

  3. golem09 says:

    Junji Ito has made way more than Uzumkai though. His series of short stories he’s written since the late 80s (18 Volumes and counting) is pretty amazing. Images more unsettling than anyhting I’ve ever seen paired with lovecraftian stories and pure despair. Just google “Junji Ito Long Dream” for a first taste.

    • ElVaquero says:

      Junji Ito also has a wonderfully charming, hilarious, and still-sometimes-spooky autobiography of his life with his cats. It’s delightful and well worth tracking it down (I think I was linked to an online fan translation so shouldn’t be too hard to find)

      Also this game is solid stuff

    • Niko says:

      Even more Ligottian than Lovecraftian (although Ligotti is obviously a Lovecraft’s spiritual successor).

  4. jrodman says:

    I reached what I think was a .. terminus.

    However, I was sufficiently confused that I’m not really sure. Are there multiple outcomes or did I miss something?
    I don’t quite have the energy to go through it all again to check.

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      zapatapon says:

      As someone who at some point was confused if I had reached the end of the story (but had not, yet) I will just mention that there are credits properly marking the ending. I don’t think there are multiple outcomes, it is essentially a short story.

  5. Hidden_7 says:

    Had a slow day at work a month or so back, and to fill the time I played both this and The Uncle Who Works at Nintendo back to back (ssshhh don’t tell anyone).

    Despite being in a brightly lit office, surrounded by people, in the middle of the day, I was deeply, deeply unnerved by both of these. To the point that they stuck with me and prevented me from getting a restful sleep later that night.

    There’s something so effective about the vague wrongness on display in both of those that works far better at lodging the fear inside my brain and sticking than anything more explicit Amnesia style scare-em-ups can do. Those games make me tense and stressed out while playing, and can get me to jump from time to time. But Lutz’ more reserved approach — no jumps, no images, just words and ambient sounds — literally haunted my dreams.

    A+ would definitely recommend to a friend who I was a bit annoyed with and wanted to freak out a bit.