How the Pretentious Game trilogy taps on gamers’ imagination
How do you know if a game is good? Is it because of the graphics, or because of the game play? Or is it because of the story?
After playing the Pretentious Game by Keybol Games, I realized that good games aren’t about a single thing that carries the rest, but a combination of all that manages to leave a lingering feeling in your little gamer’s heart.
The Pretentious Game is a story-telling platform trilogy by Keybol Games’ Bari Silvestre and is about love, hope, and tragedies with unexpected plot twists.
The game is a series of stories told by four different characters, who are all mere colored squares. There are as many stages as there are scenarios in the game. Each stage requires you to use the story lines as clues to solve puzzles, which will get your character from one point to another. The mobile version of Pretentious Game will be a trilogy, while the web version on Kongregate has it split into three different games.
Simplicity is beauty
Normally, people rely on their basic senses to appreciate games. Graphics often play a big role in immersing the player in the game’s story and environment. Complicated and interesting gameplay is also essential to keep the player engaged in the game. However, Pretentious Game does the opposite of that and instead relies on the human imagination to create a unique experience from simple and basic game elements.
Visually, the game is flat. You play as a square. The geometric background comes in black and white. The environment is also made up of basic shapes, with flames being triangles and everything else made up of rectangles and squares. There isn’t a single curve in the game.
This plain environment is complemented by slow and soothing audio, which sets the mood for each black and white stage. The game controls are simple: I only needed to use the arrow keys or the WASD keys for the browser version. The mouse was only occasionally used for certain stages.
You might think the simplicity would make it bland, but what happened was the opposite. The overall design allowed me to focus on the task at hand, and where the story was at each point. Since there is only a single line from the story that serves as a clue to beat a stage, I also got to experience that certain line in my own way. When my character was blind and lost, I felt blind and lost, too. When my character was desperate, I felt the same in my own way. There were times when I felt frustrated that I couldn’t figure out how to solve a certain puzzle, but wanting to know what happened next kept me playing.
Your imagination plays the game
All the characters were nothing but squares, each with a single distinctive color, but that was what’s amazing about Pretentious Game. You are not bound by any definition of what that character is. Instead, the game makes use of your imagination to help you create a scenario of your own. Players will have a different idea of each struggle in the game, and of what each character square represents. The game allowed them to create their own images with a character who is gradually introduced through amazing story telling.
The black and white environment plays a part in making your mind focus on the vibrantly coloured character square, helping you to be absorbed in the story. As my imagination formed images and scenes from what I was experiencing, I found it helped keep my mind on the in-game scenario. I found the combination of all these simple elements brilliant and very creative.
Pretentious Game is for everyone, but only if you allow yourself to play it with an open mind. It won’t be enjoyed by people who play games solely for the graphics, or for nerve-wracking masochistic game play. Each player will have his own interpretation of the scenes and his own understanding of the characters, and whether you pity the little blue square or sympathize with the little pink square, the game will find a way to connect with you, but only if you let it.
The three games are currently available as browser games, and may be played independently. However, I recommend that you play them in order to experience the game’s story-telling at its best. The first, second, and third parts of the trilogy are all available on Kongregate.
Pretentious Game also won the Director’s Choice award and was nominated for Best Story Telling in Casual Connect San Francisco 2013. It is also currently an entry in the 16th Annual Independent Games Festival (IGF) 2014. The mobile version of Pretentious Game will be available on Android and iOS on December 5, 2013. With the game already translated to 11 different languages and with more chapters to come, I definitely think it’s worth a try.