Jason Oda’s indie development Continue?9876543210 has sparked up quite a stir within the gaming community. Its largest criticisms suggest that the game is pretentious and tries too hard to be “artsy”. However Continue? doesn’t try anything, it simply achieves. Continue?, although not officially stated, comes across as a direct sequel to the developers previous game SkrillexQuest.
Both games share a similar character design, dungeon layout and themes of death and existentialism.
Continue? is not a game with achievements, nor is it very rewarding to play. There is no real test of skill, however there is a lasting effect of melancholy and abstract introspection towards death. The game cannot be played once, nor can a complete conclusion be drawn from just a single run through. With a random set of characters and levels to play through, each player is given the opportunity to create their own interpretations of the themes portrayed in the game.
In a way, the game, much like life, is not about living but rather, it is about the approaching inevitability that is death. The game is unforgiving; death comes quickly and without mercy. Players are given a short amount of time in which to attempt to prolong their lives, and although it gives no chance of survival, it buys times to contemplate, explore and "hopefully be at peace with the inevitability of your death" (Oda, 2013).
The dialogue’s romantic character is profound and non-linear. NPC’s offer a variety of lore within each level. If it weren’t for the impending death facing the character, you’d want to talk to every NPC to gain an understanding of the world they live in. The Wild Shores of Love was indeed one of the most romantically poetic levels. The dialogue matched the blue hues and lighting schemes engineered a sense of innocence lost. Like all the levels, there is a consistent theme and a clear purpose; love, culture, war and second chances all relate back to the notions of inevitability.
Continue? has a way with linking the death of a fictional character to real life events. Oda’s own near death experience translates into the game through NPC dialogue and character monologues. Who’s to say that during our final moments we wouldn’t give a prayer to a deity or higher body, asking for salvation and protection? Continue? touches our childhood and our deepest fears.
This is a critique, not a review, however if you’ve read a review on Continue? as it’s been out for some time, then I feel sorry for you. The whole point of the game is to not know what’s happening. There is much more enjoyment in finding things out for yourself. The less you know, the more of a connection there is between you playing the game and the character dangling on the strings of death; in our final moments we don’t know what to do, we can run around, flail our arms in the air but in the end, we’re scared of the unknown.
Continue? is something poetic, something memorable. It does not boast to be the pinnacle of gameplay and graphics, nor does it try to be something it’s not. If you were to take the poetic literacy of Mary Shelley and combined it with a sublime art style that changes to suit the level design and moods of that given level, then the result would be Continue?9876543210. Conintue? is not a game meant for speed running or achievement hunters - there is a clear audience target and if poetic observation and romantic literature is something of an enjoyment, then Continue?9876543210 will offer something very rewarding.
my lightening. my prayer.