A Haunted Operating System: Archimedes

I like playing games that are about a character sitting in front of a screen, using an operating system or playing a game. Essentially, if the window onto the world is a computer’s screen, I enjoy the sense of being in front of my own screen and pretending it’s the fictional one that the character is interacting with. Uplink is still my favourite example of the form but there are many others, including Her Story and recent freebie The House Abandon sort of fits as well.

Archimedes [official site] is a game about interacting with a haunted operating system. Think Pony Island, without the laughs.

I’m bluffing a little here. I haven’t played the game yet, so for all I know it might be full of laughs, though I very much doubt that’s the case. It’s a short one, so my only excuse for not seeing it through yet is that it’s Monday morning and far too bright outside to be dabbling in horrible things. I’ll try it tonight.

Here’s what to expect if you decide to take the plunge:

“After you purchase and install Archimedes, an old operating system appears to be running, and a strange man asks for your help as you start to discover the terrible secrets behind the game.

“You will be required to interact outside of the game, with instances ranging from steganography and cryptography to real-world geographical puzzles and use of various external applications. The deeper you go, the more frightening and personal it will become.”

You’re going to be dicking about with things outside the game, on that there internet. I believe there’s a point where you have to download a file, which is probably going to be more terrifying to some digital germophobes than anything else that could possibly happen. My hard drives are such a garbage dump of unfinished stories, unflattering screengrabs and half-forgotten prototypes that I don’t think any contamination could make them worse.

Archimedes is available now, for Windows, Mac and Linux, and is only £1.69 on Steam during its launch window. It’s on Itch too.

From this site

14 Comments

  1. elder_pegasus says:

    As a former(ish) acorn fan, I feel like I’m being trolled…

  2. vahnn says:

    I believe Duskers would also fit into the style of game you described in the opening paragraph.

  3. internisus says:

    “I like playing games that are about a character sitting in front of a screen, using an operating system or playing a game. Essentially, if the window onto the world is a computer’s screen, I enjoy the sense of being in front of my own screen and pretending it’s the fictional one that the character is interacting with.”

    I love this. I’m a sucker for a game that includes a fictional operating system or largely involves interacting with a pretend computer, and I don’t feel like it gets talked about much. I was suddenly inspired to put together a quick list of games that are like this. I’ve tried to leave off anything that breaks the rules, although I’m not 100% sure about all of these because I haven’t played all of them. One example of a close call that I left off is Street Hacker, which doesn’t always have you interfacing with a computer system even though it’s the primary mode of gameplay. Generally, though, games about hacking or chatbots are likely to fit well.

    Uplink
    Her Story
    Digital: A Love Story
    Hacknet
    Hackmud
    Duskers
    Pony Island
    Archimedes
    Memory of a Broken Dimension
    TIS-100
    Shenzhen I/O
    Emily Is Away
    SUPERHOT
    Analogue: A Hate Story and Hate Plus

    The House Abandon is an interesting close call. The entire game takes place at your computer desk but not merely your computer screen, so the game and your computer don’t correlate 1:1.

    I’ll bet there is a bunch of interactive fiction that works this way. One that comes to mind is Infocom’s classic Suspended (which probably influenced Duskers). Maybe this is a good idea for an IF Only article, eh?

    • phlebas says:

      Also Experience112 (aka The Experiment) – an interesting take on a point&click adventure where the room cameras are actual cameras and you communicate with the protagonist by activating devices around the place.

    • Darloth says:

      Also Deadnaut, which is sortof a little similar to Duskers except with a lot more shooty and overt horror.

    • Synesthesia says:

      Which is the horror one that changes files on the install folder, and needs you to create text files in order to continue? That let’s play left me jumpy for a few days.

  4. Vedharta says:

    With that name i am *deeply* disappointed it doesn’t resemble RISCOS

    Extra sad this isn’t called out on a British games site ;-)

  5. Jetsetlemming says:

    I’m interested, though I feel a bit weird about their use of common internet meme pictures in a commercial game, even if it’s only $2.50.

  6. thither says:

    Well, I got this and rather enjoyed it, but people who are curious should be aware that its total playtime is probably around 90 minutes or so. Still cheaper than a movie, or five late-game turns in Civ 6! It’s sort of one of those old-school “write things down on scrap paper” type adventure games, told through an Uplink-style virtual OS. The OS, sadly, seems to have more in common with Windows 95 than Acorn.

    Overall it was reasonably fun and engaging and pulled a few lateral moves on me that I didn’t expect. There isn’t tons of time for a super-involved story or anything, but it made for a diverting hour and a half. I hope the developer makes more stuff like this.

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