Have You Played… Photobomb?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

In the wake of a bombing in a crowded public place, can you pull together tracking data and photos from social media to figure out who planted it? Can you execute a suspect even if you can’t? Photobomb [official site] is a fascinating, chilling, and free puzzle game sending players into a virtual recreation of the crime scene to point the finger – and pistol – at someone.

The near-future premise is plausible: the plaza is crowded, but all expect six people are wearing tracking IDs. With a simulation recreating the movements of everyone in those final seconds beyond the bomb detonated, you can identify and follow the untagged people by restaging photos taken from nearby social media. Suspected and landmarks captured in photos are coloured, and your job is to apply that data to the simulation by restaging the photographs. Once they’re marked, you can follow them around and see who’s responsible.

Oh, but you only have two minutes. This likely won’t be enough time to identify everyone and be certain. In the rush to deliver a verdict, will you end up making a ‘good enough’ guess when ordered to execute someone?

It’s a chilling little tale about possible futures and present-day self-declared Internet detectives. Look at what happened after 2013’s Boston Marathon bombing.

Photobomb could be bigger, I suppose. It’s only one scene (generated differently each time for variance) and shouldn’t take you many runs to master. I suppose it could have a story campaign with bigger locations, new technologies, and new difficulties to overcome. But I think I quite like it this way. A dystopian short story.

Normally I wouldn’t do this, but the explanation of how it works makes so much more sense when you see it so here’s the video I made before:


  1. Bahumat says:

    I played it, loved it, and was absolute rubbish at it.

  2. Nevik says:

    Played it a long time ago and liked it very much. Too bad that the game doesn’t offer you more variety.

  3. RobbieTrout says:

    Never heard of it, but wow, it looks good! Adding it to my “to-play” list.

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    Serrit says:

    Really enjoyed this when I played it after RPS originally mentioned it. Took a few attempts of thinking “how am I ever going to do this in 120 seconds..” before things started to click into place about what to focus on, after which you can usually reliably solve it.
    Still on my hard drive – think I’ll give it another go later :-)

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    particlese says:

    Gah! I intended to but completely forgot. Thanks for the reminder!

  6. Llewyn says:

    Finally got round to giving this a go last night. I hadn’t realised that one half of Milkbag is Matt Rix, whose Trainyard is one of my favourite mobile puzzle games.

    Despite various control frustrations which probably stem from it being a jam game, it’s a great concept. I’d happily pay for an expanded version.