Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
There are games of which I can see screenshots years later and remember them fondly, or otherwise. And then there are the ones where a screenshot tears me asunder. Time and space lose their usual meaning, as my present and past selves collide, and my mind struggles to accept the decades of separation between them. Repton is one of those.
I played it as a child. It seemed like the height of technology. I cannot entirely believe, even to this day, that is not. I see images of it and I am transported thirty years into my own past. A specific room, a specific table, a specific screen, a specific sense of wonder and frustration.
Repton was a BBC Micro game – at least as I first experienced it – that concerned a sort of egg-headed lizardy alien lad digging his way through a space I always presumed was underground, in search of treasure and escape.
A collection of abstract ideas that made perfect sense to an eight-year-old mind, and which speaks to the benefits of not trying to explain your game’s story in the slightest, it was partly maze puzzles, partly sadism sim (whole lotta boulder-squishing) and partly the first time I remember a game having a mood as well as light and sound.
Repton seemed so lonely. Lost down there in the dark, collecting gems he surely had no way to spend. Just passing the endless hours.