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Ten games that make you think about life

Ten games that make you think about life

Games might not yet be recognized as art but they are increasingly being used to explore the kind of deep themes that were previously the preserve of artists and philosophers.

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Published by Tasha on 19th July 2010

At the start of this year, we decided to come up with a list of Flash casual games with a philosophical bent. To be honest, we struggled. After days of research, we could only find a handful of games that had the thought-provoking depth we were looking for. Our list (which you can view by clicking here) was therefore only five games long.

Fast forward to now, and it is remarkable how much difference a few months can make. Thanks to the work of pioneers like Daniel Benmergui, Gregory Weir and PixelAnte, there is now an abundance of clever arty Flash games to pique our intellects, and as a result creating this follow-up list of games that make you think has been a doddle.

In a wonderful twist, it seems it is the Flash gaming space - until now known more for the throwaway nature of its games rather than depth - that is leading the way in this exciting new area of gaming, as we hope the following games prove.


One you have finished playing these games, check out our follow-up lists: Ten More Games That Make You Think About Life and Another 20 Games That Make You Think About Life.

1Immortall

The game starts with you crash landing on a planet. It soon becomes clear that you are an alien and the planet is Earth. Exactly where and when on Earth is never spelt out. After pulling yourself out of your space craft, you start to explore the planet. Soon you come across a native - a little girl. She seems excited to meet you and calls on you to follow her. She takes you to her brother, who is picking apples from a tree. He throws one to you. You eat it. You seem to like it. And you let the little boy sit on your shoulders. Thus begins one of the most emotionally-charged games I have ever played. You can play Immortall here.

2Loved

Take a cursory look at Alexander Ocias's Loved, and you could mistake it for a pretty basic platformer. Look a little deeper and you realise that this unusual game is actually a meditation on the nature of authority and obedience. At least, that was my take on it. Like most cool art, Loved can be interpreted in a multitude of ways, and no doubt you will see it in a completely different light to me. What is not open to debate however is that Loved is one of the most innovative and thought-provoking Flash games around. Loved can be played here.

3I Can Hold My Breath Forever

In this brilliant exploration game by Jake Elliott, you play the part of a little creature who is searching for its friend in an impenetrable network of underwater caves. You can only hold your breath for ten seconds so must find air pockets in the water, before you can dive deeper. As you progress down into the depths, you come across letters dropped by your friend. The letters are beautifully written and imbue your search with an urgency and emotional resonance that are rarely found in gaming. I Can Hold My Breath Forever can be played here.

4The Company of Myself

Bend time in this sad, philosophical platformer to solve the puzzles. The game play is tricky and challenging but it is the story and introspective ambience that really make this game. Play The Company of Myself here.

5Coma

Coma is not only one of the best looking Flash games around - Thomas Brush having given it a uniquely mysterious and melancholic ambience - but also one of the cleverest. Your task is to help Pete find his way through his mysterious, subconscious world, along the way solving puzzles and marvelling at the dream-like quality of the game. You can play Coma here.

6Loondon

Just like most of us, Jonah - the hunch-back hero of this game - is on a quest to find happiness. Your job is to help him in this timeless aim by solving point and click-style puzzles. It is highly unlikely that Loondon sheds any radical new philosophical light on how to achieve happiness but the game's beautiful design, atmospheric music and fun puzzles certainly gave me a feeling that came close to happiness. Play Loondon by clicking here.

7I Wish I Were the Moon

Daniel Benmergui has become something of a legend in the world of arty games, thanks to quirky gaming gems like Today I Die. Perhaps my favourite game of his is I Wish I Were the Moon. For this game, Daniel drew his inspiration from Italo Calvino's short story The Distance of the Moon about an odd love triangle. Daniel describes the game as follows: "I tried to make it about the exploration of an emotional situation instead of a physical space, without using any text." You can play I Wish I Were the Moon here. A video walkthrough of the game can be found here.

8Every Day the Same Dream

The protaganist in this game reminds me a lot of the Michael Douglas anti-hero in the classic ninties film Falling Down. The game's hero has joined the rat race. His days have merged into one. He does the same thing each morning, does the same thing at work during the day, and in the evening returns home to do the same thing. Then he cracks, and rebels against this insidious routine. Every Day the Same Dream is a meditation on the modern idea of work. The game can be played here.

9Don't Look Back

Terry Cavanagh has a reputation for creating brilliant old-style platform games. His most famous work is arguably vvvvvv, which became a big hit earlier this year. Don't Look Back is one of his more personal games. Inspired by the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, the game explores the theme of grief. You begin the game standing over the grave of your lover, and then descend into the underworld in the hope of finding the spirit of your loved one and leading her back to safety. The game can be played here.

10Silent Conversation

Gregory Weir is another developer who has made a name for himself for making quirky thought-provoking games, perhaps most notably The Majesty of Colors and Babies Dream of Dead Worlds. He has also recently released Looming, an intriguing and atmospheric exploration game. But for this list we decided to feature one of his lesser-known creations - Silent Conversation - a game that combines platform action with reading great poetry and works of literature. Gaming has never felt so edifying. Slient Conversation can be played here.


Don't forget to check out our follow-up lists: Ten More Games That Make You Think About Life and Another 20 Games That Make You Think About Life.


We hope you like our list! If you have come across any other games that have made you think, then please tell us all about them in the comments section below.


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Published by oppa on 12th August 2014
Loved reminds me of my relationships with assholes. Disobey all the way!
Published by Camila on 7th August 2014
Skinny is also really good game to think about life
Published by Lalaboredum on 5th July 2014
Passage of life. It's the most cute and short game that really makes you think about life
Published by Annonymous on 5th July 2014
For all of you coming here for games, you should check out Prisoned
Published by Chesire on 4th July 2014
Though I'd like to say other wise, I get bored by life lesson games a lot..games in general actually. But the ones I wasn't at all bored by, and I couldn't pull from were: 1. Apples in the tree 2. Coma 3. A closed world 4. Aether (though, I couldn't see how the monster betrayed the kid. He took hi on an adventure.) 5.Ode to pixel days (I like the life lesson) 6.Time Fcuk (bad name, great game) I think there was one more, but I don't remember what it was.
Published by Annonymous on 23rd May 2014
Pretentious game, One and One Story, and No one has to die, all should have been on here.
Published by Bree Maurer on 28th April 2014
I haven't had a chance to play it yet, but I think One And One Story could fit in with this list. http://www.notdoppler.com/oneandonestory.php?ref=randombox
Published by Jesse on 28th April 2014
I think 2 of the games should be Spore and The Swapper. Those are 2 that I have played that made me think about life.
Published by Ayiana on 12th February 2014
Girl
Published by Serena on 3rd December 2013
I've made a fb page so we can discuss about these games together :) https://www.facebook.com/pages/Philosophical-flash-games-lovers/685652324791079
Published by Anonymous on 31st July 2013
Soom. Find it in MoFunZone
Published by Stranger on 30th July 2013
http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/610517 I just absolutely love this game. It made me cry.
Published by Cari on 26th July 2013
Nebulesque, thank you for that suggestion! "A Small talk at the back of beyond was chilling."
Published by Ciara on 24th May 2013
This game Blind is basically a blind man who hears a call for help and goes to the rescue followed by paths and tricks that you cannot see(since you're blind). Honestly I can't play this game without wanting to cry. I feel so bad for the people because they can't see the beauty in life though, they don't have to judge a book by it's cover and therefore, I fully respect those who live their lives happy and peaceful without knowing a color other than it's name. <3
Published by Love on 16th April 2013
http://www.kongregate.com/games/MaTX222/one-and-one-story
Published by Henrique on 7th April 2013
Guys, Try this 2 games: DUSK and E7 http://www.yepi.com/en/dusk.html
Published by Nebulesque on 6th April 2013
Just finished a very short game called "A Small Talk at the Back of Beyond". Reminded me of The Company of Myself... Which led me here. They really make you think. Would you rather stand a chance of survival but probably die alone, or go to certain death with someone to hold your hand? I'm shaken.
Published by Jeffrey Bachrach on 31st March 2013
You should remake a list add a new game called "The Cat Lady". It's a very personal and sad game.
Published by God on 3rd March 2013
Where's little inferno?
Published by reminder for dumb people on 11th February 2013
These are only flash indie games, that's the reason of why there is no Kingdom Hearts nor Deus Ex. Also, graphics DOENS'T GIVE A SHIT when you have a game with good storyline and good gameplay.
Published by ? on 30th January 2013
i hated all of them bring it into the 21 century WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! this is something my dad would he played when he was little hehehehehe but the website is ok
Published by Sampada on 15th January 2013
Hello, I am a first time developer and here is a story/game i have designed. http://www.kongregate.com/games/Sampada1025/where-did-you-go-by-sampada I would be really thankful for feedbacks :)
Published by HANNA on 23rd December 2012
These are all really fantastic games that i adore.
Published by Tommy on 20th December 2012
You forgot about Gaia
Published by Daniel on 2nd December 2012
Guys, the reason he didnt add all these games ure talking about is most likely coz hes talking about FLASH games.
Published by Number XIII on 22nd November 2012
now tell me, where is Kingdom Hearts?
Published by Lu on 1st November 2012
Amazing post, thanks!
Published by juliuszx on 30th October 2012
Where is "grey"? I cry every time i play it.
Published by realgaze on 24th October 2012
ugh, no wonder these comments would happen now that this has a thread on reddit...
Published by Le Redditer XD on 24th October 2012
Good le job, Ms. Sarkeesian XD
Published by josh on 27th September 2012
LIMBO is an amazing experience. I play it at night, turn down all the lights and turn up the ambient rumble on my sound system. You forget where you are.
Published by Jimmy on 15th September 2012
You should add LIMBO. That is an awesome game, and made me think.
Published by Lame on 31st August 2012
I played ImmorTall and was exceptionally underwhelmed. All you do is defend a family from being shot for a short while, and then you die. Even if there are a lot of bullets and stuff, you move faster and time slows down, so you can't really lose. You just keep walking slower until you die, nothing else. Not very emotional if you ask me. There's potential, but this is just pointless.
Published by Nelly on 1st August 2012
Why isn't air pressure in here? Check it out on kongregate dont read the comment until ya beat the game, it gives spoilers.
Published by Lynn on 17th July 2012
I love all of these lists, but I think Alice is Dead should have been mentioned. :D
Published by mila on 11th July 2012
Gretel & Hansel 1 and 2 are also iincredible games with great puzzles and amazing storylines, with a disturbing, creepy and enchanting mood. Go play it!
Published by Pretentious Game on 27th June 2012
Do you want to play a game that will really make you think? You must add "a pretentious game".
Published by euphy on 24th June 2012
Take a look at Journey on PS3!!!
Published by music_addict2213 on 10th May 2012
company of myself is the greatest game ever. the only game that's made me break down and cry.
Published by Gamelicker on 26th April 2012
I like Loondon the best. This game reminds me of popular adventure games we used to play back in 1990s, such as The Legend of Kyrandia or King's Quest series. But it is indeed very interesting to see how our tastes and preferences keep changing.
Published by ams on 25th April 2012
I Wish I Were the Moon should be no 1!!!! btw i just finished its all endings (Yayy:P)
Published by kate on 21st April 2012
kate
Published by Ryan on 14th April 2012
How did Limbo not make this list!?
Published by Kimberly on 9th April 2012
Loved- do what the divine god tells you to and you are loved but if you disobey then you're sinning and going against him.My atheistic mind ignored everying he was telling me to do,
Published by maddie on 27th March 2012
amazing:) my thoughts on coma: prolog: his father DID lock his sister in the closet + she died, the boy tried to get her out and the father hit him or hurt him so bad he went into a coma. The little kids you met were aslo his siblings, who wanted to help him get out of the coma. the 'mother' is the boy's mother (thats why she looks so sad, her son has gone into a coma + cant come out) and wants him to stay alive at any cost, even if it means that he has to stay in the coma forvever. The bird is your dead sister + knows you will never be able to come out of the coma alive, so tricks you to coming down and ringing the 'dore bell' which means that you die. thats why the tunnel seems to be covered in organs, you are making your way down to your heart to ring the dore bell + make it stop beating. the boat you stand on is to take you to the 'after life' and the water represents the fabric of the two worlds (the living world + the after life), the shadow that you see on the water is your sister, waiting for you in the after life. at the end you sprit is flying to meet your sister, that is why it says 'i will see you soon' (or somthing like that :)). OTHER POINTS: there is a worm there because the little boy (like most little boys ;)) liked dirt and worms + all gross things (thats why you come out of the other end :S ooh er) he was proberly very curious + liked discovering things(thats why at the forest he says 'im so curious....')the bird (his sister) doesnt want him to go into the forest because when she was alive she wa proberly very protective of her little brother + knew that h could come into a lot of harm in a forest, also she knows that he will mett The Mother there and she will try and persuade him not to ring the 'dore bell'. The people are hanging in the forest because, even though he was a very young boy, he has proberly seem a lot of horror in his life time since he had a abusive father. The sister with the spider- she is trapped by the Father + that you cant get to her signifys that the little boy couldnt get to his sister before she died when the father trapped her in the basement. the piano- 'music be the food of love' the sister loved her little brother + played him the song whenever he was sad or scared, so the brother reconisis the song as one that brings happiness and tries to rescue his sister with the same song. all along all the little boy wanted to do is to rescue his big sister, and when he couldnt + she died he felt such guit that (when he got into a coma by his abusive father) he tried to rescue her then. The people in the indow + eyes everywhere in the game signify that in his life the little boy always thought he was being watched by his father + this made him very uncomfotable. This is want i think:) Please comment!!:D trolling to a minium please:S i have a mental problem with spelling :S PLEASE COMMENT!!! :D xxxx
Published by That guy on 24th March 2012
Hey, not sure if this counts but the flash game 'One and One Story' is one of the most beautiful games i have ever played (although a little too short and too easy). Can you look into this?
Published by Isaac on 21st February 2012
Not sure if this list is exclusive to flash games but I believe Braid should be noticed as an art game that makes you think. One of my favorite games of all time.
Published by rachel on 17th February 2012
i want to play
Published by anthony on 9th February 2012
Dude, how did Passage not make this list? Or either of the subsequent lists? Either way, looking forward to checking these out, everyday the same dream was awesome.
Published by Pavel on 24th December 2011
Thank you for this page so much. It's awesome, how many ideas and inspiration are in this games.
Published by TEENIEKMP on 4th November 2011
Thank you for posting this. Some of these games are absolutely amazing. My favourite was Every Day the Same Dream.
Published by Sylvain on 2nd November 2011
Have big fun doing nothing tonight, great!
Published by mayarmero on 1st November 2011
:D
Published by Online on 26th October 2011
Some of these games are very addictive.
Published by TheMoonlightsea on 16th October 2011
You need to play the one and one story game, fits to these lists: http://www.notdoppler.com/oneandonestory.php
Published by Bill on 5th October 2011
Stumbled here. I think one person had these games half right. I agree they are "art" but don't call them games. Some of them stories perhaps, but they are not games.
Published by PockASqueeno on 4th October 2011
Great games! I loved them all except the last two. The last one was just waaaaay too long and tedious, and the one before was impossible to kill the creatures. Put out another list like this!
Published by Grow on 31st August 2011
Really cool game played it when i was a kid still love it now
Published by Grow on 31st August 2011
http://www.eyezmaze.com/grow/cube/#more
Published by Isabel on 21st August 2011
Colour My World <3 http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/4fdCVk/armorgames.com/play/4726/colour-my-world Its an amazing game
Published by islam ahmed on 20th August 2011
u forgot bout this game called Blind this game is wicked aweseme
Published by Julia on 12th August 2011
Really should have included Skinny (from the creators of Coma) http://www.kongregate.com/games/wittyhobos/skinny
Published by Catherine on 3rd August 2011
To anyone that has said these games are "just sad" or "lame" and didn't like them, think again. Just think about them. These games are great examples of why video games can be art. And, my friends, this is a gallery.
Published by spluringen on 27th July 2011
You have missed one of my favourites; K.O.L.M. http://armorgames.com/play/7446/kolm
Published by Finko Jax on 18th July 2011
I love how you said Londoon made you happy. It is the most depressing on the list LOL
Published by sierra on 8th July 2011
they were all really cool and creepy at the same time.. although, i didn't like loved at all. it almost made me cry the second time i played (doing it differently). i don't know why, it was just.. really sad. also, played coma before i saw this list and i thought it was really great, although there's a game created by the same person as coma called "skinny" and i think that should have made this list. it was a bit scary with very nice but creepy artwork and music.. and really made me think about life.
Published by oyun on 5th July 2011
It proved to be very mind bending and exotic but at the same time, tamed. I enjoyed them greatly.
Published by Seth on 4th July 2011
the ending of "I can hold my breath forever" scared me. >_< But all the other ones were just confusing.
Published by KatarinaS on 30th June 2011
I played immortall, made me cry tried to play loved, honestly did but i couldnt figure it out perhaps that says something about me and my relationships. coma was by far the best great graphics and loved the story i was however a bit unsatisfied with the ending i wanted to see the reuniting of the siblings, you know just to see that the sister was actually alright. silly me i guess
Published by evanW on 29th June 2011
You should add Oiligarchy to this list. It touches on the state of oil in the world and the lengths people go to get at it.
Published by Alexandra on 27th June 2011
Stumbled this. Great list; I've known about a few of these for a while. I found a great game called Platform a while back... it would be perfect for this list. It's really short. http://kafkaskoffee.com/junk/Platform.html
Published by Oliver on 26th June 2011
I've only played The Company of Myself so far, but I thought it was beautiful.
Published by Steve_N on 24th June 2011
http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/555181
Published by Joe on 16th June 2011
I love your list friend. I was thinking to myself about the games that touched me (get your mind out of the gutter) and was actually surprised to find them on here. Great job, don't know if you'd ever consider "you find yourself in a room" in the same category, but i felt a bit sad near the end of it.
Published by Jasmine on 28th May 2011
I believe Loved and Coma were the most moving and creative games of the list. It proved to be very mind bending and exotic but at the same time, tamed. I enjoyed them greatly
Published by ruff on 24th May 2011
This is really a great list and thank you for sharing. I played THE COMPANY OF MYSELF before and never finished it but really loved how it tackled loneliness in life during when I played. I will definitely try the other games. Again, brilliant list. :)
Published by ms.bradon jaskson on 16th May 2011
these games are hella lame
Published by Jamie Kelley on 13th May 2011
I playes each of these games and for me Coma was the best, I loved it. I teared up with the bird at the end. Loved was also creepy and wonderful. However some of the greatest artistic games come from Silver Stich in the Colour series, they are breathtaking<3
Published by Samaire on 8th May 2011
Loved made me cry ^^
Published by david on 2nd May 2011
infinite ocean should be on this list
Published by tom on 14th April 2011
Life is like a game and game is the life. I like A company of myself.
Published by alexk on 14th April 2011
i played loondon, silent conversation, in the company of myself everyday the same routine and imortall. imortall was by far the saddest, but i really liked loondon. the ay he was persecuted bet no one knew he saved the town
Published by Jono on 8th April 2011
Some of these games really bummed me out.. Thanks for ruining my day
Published by Jon on 30th March 2011
Brandon... your dumb... you have to do 5 or 6 things differently in order to complete the game.. talk to the lady in the elevator..
Published by Brandon on 28th March 2011
"the every day is a dream one surprised me... i did it twice actually, to see if there was any other way than to kill myself." There is another way. If you go to work naked you will get fired. That's a happy ending right? :-D
Published by Gegenscheiner on 26th March 2011
"Loved" is by far my favorite. It's the perfect allegory to an abusive relationship or even to an extent, BDSM, hee hee.
Published by saskia on 19th March 2011
it is so wreid lol ha :D
Published by babi on 7th March 2011
i saw loved a little different. for me it's showing the perspective of someone who is loved by a person that doesnt really know what love means. i think each sees what needs/wants to see. arent all arts like that? :D
Published by Annonymous on 27th February 2011
Ok, so i need help, will some one please exlain coma and everyday the same dream to me? It's a great list, i played several of them, but not all, I don't really have the time. i Just need those two explained to me.
Published by Amber on 10th February 2011
Colour my heart, colour my world, colour my fate
Published by James on 7th February 2011
Loved the list, it's great to see games that offer something a world away from mainstream titles appearing so much. I was starting to forget what it's like to be blown away by a game
Published by Ending on 5th February 2011
the ending of Bars of Black and White was so intense i got 30/30 barcodes. one of my favorite games other than loved and coma :3
Published by One CHance on 5th February 2011
go to ArmorGames Art Section. they have a bunch of good games one good game that is supposed to be played only once (though i have found more ways to play it) is One Chance. VERY good and deep.
Published by Jessica on 2nd February 2011
I love the company of myself i played thta game all the time even before i went to this website :D
Published by Anonymous on 29th January 2011
Personally I would put Machinarium on this list. Quite a deep game.
Published by lauren on 27th January 2011
I agree you should really add limbo
Published by shawbrook on 26th January 2011
How can Nevermore 3 possibly not be in this list? It's the best flash game ever. Heck, Coma was inspired by it.
Published by adam on 25th January 2011
Limbo should be added to the list
Published by aynadan on 19th January 2011
Feed, protect, and rescue exotic African animals in Project Rescue: Africa! Keep your critters safe using your Time Management talents and build up your wildlife preserve. Keep the dreaded poachers away and keep the savannah safe for generations to come.
Published by mrhrhr on 15th January 2011
I guess One Chance is missing, but it's a really nice list!

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