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Five games that make you think about life

Five games that make you think about life

Not all games involve mindless shooting the shit out of stuff. Some can even make you think a bit.

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Published by Tasha on 11th November 2009

Do you ever get that feeling, when playing games, that you really should be doing something more edifying with your life. I do, usually at about three in the morning after a marathon session of slaughtering undead in Sacred 2.

It is a sad fact that most the computer games I play are about as intellectually stimulating as a fart. But, thankfully, not all. Here, I present five games I've found that force you to think a little - in some cases even get a bit philosophical.

1Passage

It is very rare - nay, impossible - for a game to reduce me to tears. And this one didn't. But, I can tell you, it was damn close. A more poignant and profound game you are unlikely to find. On the surface, the point of Passage is to open as many treasure chests within the allotted time. But that's not what Jason Rohrer's award winning game is really about. What it is really about is love, the passing of time, saying goodbye to youth and freedom, grief - ultimately life itself.

Passage can be played on Mac OSX, Windows and Linux and can be downloaded here. Make sure you have some tissues handy before you start playing.

2The Majesty of Colors

"Last night I had a dream". So begins The Majesty of Colors - a sparklingly innovative Flash game by Gregory Weir. But this is no ordinary dream, And "I" - you - is no ordinary person. You are a terrifyingly ugly sea monster - basically a giant squid with one enormous spiked tentacle with which you interact with the world. Despite your fearsome appearance, you start the game as an innocent creature, curious about the world. But your interactions with humanity threaten to corrupt you. Feeling rejected and persecuted, do you turn bad and use your considerable powers for evil purposes, or do you strive to do good? The choice is yours.

The Majesty of Colors is a game that can be played multiple times - the decisions you make during the game determine between the many different endings. Play it here. Read an interview with the game's creator here.

3The Game

The Game starts by telling us that there are no rules, just play. But what does it mean by that. Is it lavishing praise on anarchy or is it saying that life's just a game. The truth is nothing so trite. The Game takes you on a voyage of philosophical exploration like none you will have experienced before. You will find yourself committing suicide beneath clouds bearing Einstein's legendary equation, suffering under the totalitarianism of communisim, getting your heart shot to bits by a lover - all the time accompanied by the wittiest commentary I've seen in a game. And the more you progress into The Game, the deeper - and funnier - it gets.

Trust me, The Game will change your perception of what games are about. Play it here but not for too long because it might blow your mind.

4Gray

Gray is a riot - quite literally. In this cerebral, experimental game, you play the part of a lone dissenter, trying desperately to win a seemingly never ending horde of rioters over to your cause. It seems like a helpless task but one by one you manage to woo the rioters until eventually you have the majority following you. But what does any self-respecting rebel do when they are a member of the majority, well in this game, they switch to the other side of course, and repeat the whole process again but from the opposite direction.

Gray raises some interesting questions about the individual and the possibility of one person changing the course of history. It is also great fun to play. Play it here

Super Karoshi, free Flash browser game
Super Karoshi

In Super Karoshi, dieing is not something to be scared of but celebrated.

5Super Karoshi

This supreme reinvention of the platform genre forces you to dwell on the nature of life, the utter futility and pointlessness of it, that is. But rather than getting depressed about this fact, Super Karoshi wants us to celebrate the worthlessness of existence, by splattering ourselves into oblivion in a variety of highly imaginative and blood spurting ways. Ironically, given that the point is to die, I feel more alive playing this game than virtually any other platformer. The brilliant music (by Jake Almond) and devilishly clever puzzles probably have something to do with that.

Super Karoshi is, like Nietzsche, brilliant, dark, and supremely clever. Whatever you do, don't miss it. Play Super Karoshi here. Other versions of the game can be found here


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Published by Mike on 25th May 2014
Just finished alter-ego. Loved it, I died on the operating table at old age though... it just happened suddenly, and i felt like that was the metaphor it was getting across. My alter-ego was in decent health and needed a simple procedure so I accepted the surgery and died instantly. Like just gives and takes, just like that
Published by Glen on 8th August 2013
The Pretentious Game series fits in pretty well with this list. It has a lot of thought behind it, is a pretty good platformer, and gets pretty emotional.
Published by Phoenix Borealis on 29th June 2013
Played Sequested on Navi's suggestion. It's pretty difficult, but it is a great story and a fun game!
Published by christopher on 2nd January 2013
89 votes
Published by Navi on 3rd September 2012
I just finished playing a game called Sequester about a little boy stuck in a dream world trying to help his sister. Interesting puzzles, nice story. Intense ending (emotionally). I highly recommend giving it a try.
Published by Ben on 29th August 2012
Fuck Passage. That shit is not a game. You hold one button to be bored out of your fucking skull for five minutes while absolutely nothing happens. Why the fuck would anybody need tissues for that? If you cried after "playing" passage you are a weak ass piece of shit. That's fucking ten minutes of my life that I'm not getting back. Screw you and screw these "games".
Published by rollo on 18th October 2011
The Passage isn't a game at all, more of an animation. Felt like a waste of time
Published by Nathan on 7th July 2011
I don't think the Majesty of Colors is about good and evil. It's about the interpretation about what is wrong and right? The creature states when you let the jet skier go that he is unsure whether it was wise to let it go. Not because it wanted to kill but because it didn't want to die. You are viewing it through a humanistic lense.
Published by Keille on 9th June 2011
Speaking for myself, the message I got from Passage wasn't "I'm so sad because my life partner is gone." I looked at it more as a commentary on the inevitable march through time to the grave.
Published by ephemeron on 7th January 2011
Company of myself should definitely be on the list. ( http://www.gamesfree.com/game/company_of_myself.html )
Published by Lady on 1st November 2010
I agree with Jeremy, I don't get what people like so much about it. I just think it's unbelievably pretentious.
Published by Casual Girl Gamer on 19th August 2010
@Jeremy Did you not even feel a twinge of sadness when the partner who you'd spent the lifetime of the game with died? Not even a tiny little bit of sadness?
Published by Jeremy on 18th August 2010
That Passages game...I've tried that in the past and I still don't get what people find some heart-felt about it. It's a tiny strip of blurred pixels and loud synthesizer music that's about you and some girl wandering around aimlessly. I don't know, maybe I'm emotionally stunted or something?
Published by Clay on 14th November 2009
Great website design and great posts!
Published by coollavagames on 11th November 2009
Also thank you from letting me know about the game "Gray", it's so crazy
Published by coollavagames on 11th November 2009
I remember playing "The majesty of colors" a while back and it's really amazing game in terms of "atmosphere" and a feeling of something crazy and spooky. I would really like to see more games like that being made.

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