I like to think that I’ve played a lot of games, and a wide variety of game types to boot; from mega-productions through indie offerings, first-person shooters to puzzle games. Strange, malformed Flash-based browser adventures, Telnet-connected text-only role-playing, and many, many more. I’ve run the gamut when it comes to sampling the multitudinous buffet of what gaming, as an industry, has to offer — or so I tell myself, until I stumble into something like the twisting, difficult to define Continue?9876543210, a game put together by Jason Oda and released into the wilds of Steam via Greenlight.
To say that Continue is a different experience from most games is to sell it short. To say it’s immensely bizarre, profoundly ponderous, and sometimes blindingly confusing is, perhaps, a more just description, but still fails to capture the essential weirdness of it all. Oda cites, as an inspiration for this journey, the drug culture of Peru. I’ve never braved the South American jungle with a head full of hallucinogenics, but I’ve read the writings of Carlos Castenada, which is probably the next closest thing, and there’s definitely some of that same writhing, grazing philosophy here; that introspective existentialism that begs us to look at ourselves through the media we consume.
When I first started up Continue, it captured me with it’s strange graphics and hint of a story; the basic idea is that you take control of a failed sprite; a player’s game, left to run down the clock on a continue timer, left you dead and wandering the RAM to try and piece together some essence of your existence, some fleeting part of what you were before – or, perhaps, what story you were a part of in your glory days of adventuring within the world of your origin. You’re given basic instructions; movement, speaking to other denizens of the RAM, swinging your sword. That’s all you have to go on as you trek out into one of the randomly-ordered realms that you’ll have a chance to explore in a quest to obtain either lightning, which will help clear your path to an exit from the level, or prayers, which will offer you additional shelter at the endgame, when the inevitable deletion comes for you.
One way or the other, Continue?9876543210 is something that will stick with you. Swaying between confusion and fun, and daring to push the limits of each, this game is unlike anything I’ve ever played. Perhaps it’s the warped, half-meaningless dialogue or the impending sense of your inability to change your fate; maybe it’s the way levels shift around each time you play, or the variety of strange quests you’re set upon without much direction; it could even just be the fleeting glimpse of possibility, cradled underneath this game’s cloak of philosophy and confounding introspection, but I can say that I honestly enjoyed my journey here, and while I wouldn’t say it’s going to be everyone’s cup of tea, anyone who’s enjoyed the experimental indie games that seep into the market of late owes themselves at least a passing glance at this one.
[+Unlike anything I’ve played before] [+Solid mix of style elements] [+Decent soundtrack adds ambiance] [+Confusing, but oddly approachable] [-Sound effects are grating and loud] [-Controls could use a tweak]