ENOUGH by Kerry Turner might be the most depressing game ever

Sure the ending of Shadow of The Colossus is all sad and stuff, and some other recent games have tried to hurt our feelings, but it’s been a while since I’ve played something that’s just bleak.

Enough is a new flash game from reallyfancy.com, made by Kerry Turner. It’s a little bit brilliant.

You’re a rabbit. A cute little bunny.

Your whole world is a barren brown chunk against a black void. You can movie back and forth and jump.

There is a swarm of crows that swoop around randomly and try to hit you.

At the top of the screen it says Please Stop.

Any time you get hit by a crow the message changes. It progresses to I’m so tired, Just stop, Please, I’ve had enough, and finally I don’t want to go on. When you’re hit the final time you disappear from existence.

The whole experience is ominous. The black void, the inevitability of you perishing. The fact that the game itself is asking you to not continue.There’s no music, and there’s only about 5 sound effects total. Every little bit, there’s a sound of cawing crows, ugly, and preceded by a half second of white noise. It happens to remind you of the unavoidable threat that surrounds you, and it’s frankly a bit unnerving.

It’s hard to know what to make of Enough.

From the instant you start playing you’re under attack, and the common survival instinct says that you should jump to avoid player death. But you cannot survive. You cannot win. The bunny itself tells you that there’s no point, and that all you’re doing is making things worse. The game itself has already accepted the fact that there is no pleasure in the game, that there is no winning, so the real game is accepting that as a player.

It’s like the movie Funny Games, whereas in the film, horrible things only happen to the character because you, as a viewer, have chosen to watch. In Enough, the rabbit/the player suffers only because they choose to play.

Unlike Canabalt, another game, where death is inevitable and will happen with every game session, there is no incentive to try again. No high score, nothing to strive for.

It’s hopeless.

And because of this Enough is brilliant.

I don’t want to make a definitive statement about what the game is about. But I feel that the game is about being an anti-game. If that makes sense.

The only way you can really win, to really prevent the rabbit from perishing into blackness is to not play.

    • jon
    • June 2nd, 2010

    So I decided to contact Ms. Turner at reallyfancy.com and she replied:

    * jon Says:
    June 2nd, 2010 at 8:55 am

    So hey, as you’ve already seen my blog, and my impressions of the game, I was just wondering about what you actually intended for the game to be “about”. I was just wondering if i was close at all in how I saw the game. Also, what idea or concept set you about making the game to begin with?

    * Kerry Says:
    June 2nd, 2010 at 9:51 am

    (To clarify, I tweeted that I was amused by this chap’s comparison of my game to the film Funny Games.)

    First of all, thanks very much for the review! And – just in case it looked that way – I wasn’t laughing at you, just amused by how depressing people are finding my work. I’m a pretty chipper person in person, see.

    The game is indeed intended to be about the nature of winning, about the relationship between player and player-character and about the relationship between controls and what you can actually do with them. I hadn’t really thought about terminology, but “anti-game” seems to fit nicely.

    This began as a technical decision – it was the first time I’d used Flixel, and wanted to make a short, achievable project in a weekend. I decided to remove as much interaction from the standard platform game as possible, which led me to think about what to keep.

    I decided to make death – via repeated self-injury, or giving up – the only meaningful interaction, as I felt it was the only one I couldn’t remove (although now that I think about that decision, I realise that there’s potential for something interesting there…). The cheery dialogue, sound effects and background followed. As soon as I added the dialogue, the disconnect between the motivations of the player and the player-character became apparent. I liked that, and decided to emphasise it – which is I suppose where the Funny Games comparison comes in.

    With regard to tone, my intention was to create an ambiguous atmosphere where it wasn’t clear if the game was meant to be depressing, or whether it was meant to be so depressing that it went out the other side into quite funny. I’m not sure if I managed that.

    Interesting (and very flattering!) that you mention Shadow of the Colossus – that game was very influential on my thinking when I first played it, and was the first game that I remember playing that really made me think about whether games should be fun to play, and about how they can play with the player (for reference, here’s me banging on about that very thing on a forum four years ago – ah, youthful enthusiasm!).

    PS: You are the only reviewer so far to realise that they’re crows. You get a gold star for that alone.

  1. I did think about replying here, but I’m always wary of coming across like the guy in the comments here. I’d always rather wait to be asked for my thoughts directly than risk desperate, unwanted over-explanation!

    Thanks again for your thoughtful write-up, and for getting in touch.

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