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[I] doesn't exist - a modern text adventure Review

[I] doesn't exist - a modern text adventure Review

I doesn't exist - a modern text adventure is the first game from the developers, LUAL Games KIG, and it is a surreal experience. It's hard for me to put this review into words because this feels much more like a narrative journey than anything else.

As the title suggests, the game is played by typing orders for the character on the screen. You have to input your orders via your keyboard, and if you've ever used any coding program, you'll recognise the format of the text. With a beautiful pixelated background, you would think this is just a simple puzzle game with some delightful tunes to listen to as you play. Alas, you would be wrong.

You go to the mushroom in the tutorial stage.

Described as "Classic Zork meets Existential Crisis", [I] doesn't exist explores themes of control, isolation, and mental health. It hits pretty hard, and while it's recommended you play it with headphones, I would also say that if you have any sensory issues — maybe don't. I can get pretty sensitive about sounds, and I can't lie, some of the audio was so disorienting that I felt a significant sense of vertigo. I don't often feel nauseous because of sound, but in this case, it was a lot.

[I] doesn't exist is the type of game where you are very much a part of it. You're not the character, but the character is their own person. Hell, even the game is a character. It's a very meta game, and I personally really enjoyed it. I named the character Gilligan, and it starts like any other game. You order the character to move to complete each puzzle, but that's where your problem lies. As I gave Gilligan orders, the more he broke down. While the puzzles are easy enough, you need to order Gilligan around to complete them.

Gilligan has to pass through to get to the obstacle.

Your first goal is to open a safe, but you don't have a code. Instead, you need to use the items in your surroundings to find a way to pry it open. It requires a lot of walking back and forth and figuring out how to get your items by using a verb and a noun. It's all about using your words and ensuring you can get Gilligan to the door.

However, Gilligan doesn't want to go through the door. If Gilligan goes through the door, he ceases to exist. Hell, I didn't even want Gilligan to go through the door — I'm empathetic to his plight. Instead, the Game is trying to control the narrative, so it tries to make manipulating Gilligan a part of the game. I need to distract him with a riddle that we need to solve, and the riddle all leads to that door. The problem is that Gilligan thinks that the Game and I are the same person, and it's clear that this has happened before.

Gilligan doesn't want to go through the door.

Gilligan always says that I don't remember how I treated him. And I think it hit me pretty hard on my first playthrough. The Game, when it realises that Gilligan has a panic attack and doesn't want to go through the door, has you control them. It even tries to distract you before this by giving you a very strange art game using mysterious figures and uses the Mushroom Mascot as a way to distract you with cute things. It doesn't make it cute either; in fact, this was a very disturbing part of the game.

I do not like the mushroom and it's art.

Upon taking control of Gilligan, the Game convinces you to go to the door, but instead, you have the choice to turn around. Gilligan asks you questions, and upon answering them, you'll be brought to a puzzle where you need to find the entry code by angling your camera in the perfect spot. Then, you'll be able to ask the Game questions, and Gilligan and you will be brought back to the entrance to the door.

I dont like the door

I won't go into too much detail here. After all, I don't want to tell you how the story ends. But, I will say this: [I] doesn't exist doesn't mess around with the themes it wants to convey. The developers have created a compelling story that I thought was well done. The ending almost gave me some Doki Doki Literature Club! vibes, but not as intensely.

It's only a short game, with my first playthrough only taking roughly an hour or an hour and a half. The only reason it gave me that little extra time was because there was an issue where the game crashed upon me entering the settings after talking to Gilligan at one point. But the good news is that there was an Auto Save feature, so all I had to do was go back to the previous save point. It wasn't far back, but I would say that it's an interesting one.

If you're into surrealist games with a metanarrative, then I would recommend it. However, if you have sensory issues, please turn the volume down a bit. That was pretty jarring, and although it had the desired effect of making me uncomfortable, it was a little too disorienting for my liking. But I would play it again, just to see if I can do anything at all to help Gilligan. 

Want to try it for yourself? The demo is free on Steam, and after a short delay, [I] doesn't exist - a modern text adventure will be out on the 5th of October. Feel free to let us know what you think about it in the comments! 

8.00/10 8

I doesn't exist - a modern text adventure (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.

Despite some minor issues and some disorienting audio, I appreciated the metanarrative and surrealism of [I] doesn’t exist. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys story-rich games.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Bex Prouse

Bex Prouse

Staff Writer

Writing about all sorts like a liquorice allsort

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