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Ten more games that will make you think about life

Ten more games that will make you think about life

Continuing our tradition of bringing you thought-provoking games, we present yet more games that will have you pondering on the meaning of it all.

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Published by Andy Jowett on 17th April 2011

Life, eh? It's all a bit mad really, isn't it? Here we are, the products of millions of years of chance chemical and biological reactions, wandering around on a dying rock as it spins through the vast, indifferent universe with nought but the knowledge of our own inevitable oblivion for company.

A sobering thought. And sobering thoughts will sure as sugar turn you to drink. But you don't want to do that - apparently it can be quite good for you. So spare your liver and sacrifice your eyesight and wrist tendons instead by digging in to our latest top ten games that make you think about life.

1 One Chance

Here's something to think about - every decision we ever make, no matter how seemingly inconsequential it may be at the time, has the potential to fundamentally change our lives forever. A simple 'Should I go down the boozer?' on an idle Tuesday evening could set off a chain of events that leads to you meeting your partner, getting married, having kids, the whole shebang. Or you could end up with liver disease.

Of course, the thing about decisions is you normally only get one chance to make them and, once they're made, you can't go back. This frankly rather depressing little segue brings us to One Chance.

You are the super-smart scientist whose discovery appears to have conquered one of the most devastating diseases known to humankind. Unfortunately - oh hubris, thy name is scientist guy! - your discovery has also gone ape and will kill every living cell on Earth within the week. What you might call a mixed day at the office. Over the next few days, the decisions you make will determine the fate of, well, everything, everywhere. A good time, perhaps, to invest in a bigger executive stress ball.

Even with the cartoony retro graphics, developer AwkwardSilenceGames has delivered a game that, like a good thriller, builds a creeping sense of unease into its early stages that gradually accelerates to blind panic as the clock ticks down to doomsday. Will you find a cure? Will you top yourself? Will you retire to the boozer and hope for the best from the bottom of a bottle? The clever thing is, you really will only get One Chance to find out. Play One Chance here.

2 A Mother in Festerwood

Kids, eh? It seems like one minute, they're little pixels wandering around your woodland home, the next they're on their way into the big, wide world, where they must find their own treasure and kill their own trolls. At least, that's how life is like in Festerwood.

As a mother, it's your job to keep your little tyke in the safety of the homestead until they have enough experience to survive the monster-infested woods. Don't expect any gratitude, though. The brat will continually try to give you the slip and escape into the wild. After a while, like many a parent, you may well be tempted to say sod it and let the know-it-alls find out the hard way what the world's really like. Let them just see!

Oh, they'll be back when they want feeding. Well, they better bring some treasure. We aren't made of money, you know. And will there be a word of thanks? And look at the state of your room? This isn't a hotel. And another thing... Ahem. Play A Mother in Festerwood here.

3 American Dream

Crude, materialistic, morally bankrupt, downright filthy...you've got to love the wonderful world of the free market. And it's captured in all it's terrible, rapacious glory in American Dream, a frankly bizarre celebration of consumerism and greed that pitches itself somewhere in between American Psycho and Fight Club.

The aim of the game is to make a million buckaroos by trading the "stock" of a eclectic collection of long-forgotten celebs (Max Headroom, Rick Astley...er...Madonna) and Blondie (everyone loves Blondie, right?). Yes, really.

Buy low, sell high and kit out your pad with all the latest furniture and gadgets to hide the emptiness inside. Once you have, of course, it'll all be out of fashion and you must start all over again. Oh and then there's the parties...which you can find out about yourself. Perhaps best not to play this one with your gran. Play American Dream here.

4 As I Lay Dying

Of course, a big part of life is sharing it with another person. Unless you subscribe to the view that hell is other people, I suppose. But anyway, let's say you don't. You like at least one person enough to share your life with them. Right.

As I Lay Dying makes you think about how far you'd go to get that person back home - even if they're dead. The dialogue might sound like it's been recorded in a phone box, but this retro-style platform adventure offers plenty of little puzzles and pesky enemies to test your initiative and throwing arm. Leave no man behind. Play As I Lay Dying here.

5 Prior

Another thing about life is that you can sometimes wake up in a strange place without a clue about what's going on. This isn't always a bad thing; there was that time in San Francisco when I came to and there was this girl...erm...I digress. In the case of Prior, however, waking up in a strange place without a clue about what's going on is most definitely not a good thing. It's up to you to find out just what the flippin' 'eck is going on and where your family have gone.

Prior is a classic platform that, like 1980s classics like Treasure Island Dizzy, put the emphasis on you picking up clues and solving little puzzles to crack the maze and save the day. Cool music, too. Play Prior here.

6 The End of Us

Life can, of course, bring very sad moments. People come and go. Friends drift away. Sometimes they crash into planets. Erm, well in this case they do. This strangely touching little game sets you up as a purple comet whizzing through the cosmos, who is joined by a spirited orange comet. You spin and swirl through the vastness of space, chasing stars for no particular reason and slowly fading as you grow older.

All things must pass, though, and you eventually come upon a asteroid belt that knocks the wind out of you. In the end, all that's left is to decide who's going to take the big fall and who's going to carry on alone? Although this game is set to a music track, I'd suggest playing it while listening to Do You Realize?? by The Flaming Lips. Pass the hanky. Sniff. You can play The End of Us here.

7 Pipedreamz

Meat can change your life, apparently. I honestly couldn't tell you. I also honestly couldn't tell you what you could learn about life from Pipedreamz, but then perhaps it's a bit too intellectual for me. It's a series of weird mini-games in which you have to flip burgers, surf and trough meat without others seeing. I just don't know. I really don't. Maybe you can work it out. Let me know if you crack it. Play Pipedreamz here.

8 Flight

The beautifully animated Flight is all about hope. The hope of a little girl to see her mum at Christmas. Aww. Little Sandy has written down her only wish on a paper aeroplane and it's up to you to make sure that the message gets all the way to London, 1,000 miles away.

This highly addictive little physics game is all about picking up and chucking said plane as far as you possibly can. Getting altitude and distance will help you pick up money to buy some pretty nifty extras - I wish my paper planes at school had an afterburner. Ooh and you can personalise your plane too! And what kind of monster wouldn't want to help a little girl at Christmas? Even when it's April? Play Flight here.

9 Distance

If you've ever been in a long-distance relationship, Distance is likely to tug at your heart strings. If you're just a soppy old romantic, it'll hit the spot too. If, like me, you're a sneering misanthrope with a piece of flint where your heart should be, you'll still appreciate the storytelling.

Austin Breed, who clearly likes pondering life as he was also the developer behind A Mother in Festerwood, has created a split-screen tale of a couple separated by, well, distance. You follow their separate, daily routines and at night get to pose one of two questions while they chat on the phone. But will their eyes start to wander? What would you do? Find out! Play Distance here.

10 Spent

Spent is more of a personal challenge than a game. Putting you in the extremely sobering position of being one of America's 14 million unemployed. You have no savings and no home. Can you survive the month? Course you can, right? Just find a job! Land of opportunity and all that. So you view the ads and try to land a post. I failed the typing test to become a temp (rather upsetting, I must say) so took the warehouse route.

Of course, all that lifting puts a strain on the body, so do you cough up for health insurance or opt out and just hope you don't get hurt? Then you need somewhere to live. Do you pay a higher rent to be closer to your job or live further out but spent cash on commuting? Then, of course, there's the bills. Do you pay the arrears on your car or go without? Do you pay your student debt? What about the lighting? Heating? Water?

Oh and not forgetting feeding your kids, paying to send them on field trips, shelling out for birthday parties, covering your mother's medical bills...and feeding yourself. It soon becomes a stressful grind that illustrates, even if it's just a little game and you only have to survive one month, some of the truly awful choices that people face every day. It's like an interactive version of Morgan Spurlock's 30 Days on Minimum Wage.

The game was put together by Urban Ministries of Durham in North Carolina, which works to help those needing food, shelter, clothing and support without asking why they need it or who is to blame. Play Spent here.

If you would like to prolong your pondering still further, you may like to check out our previous lists of philosophical games here, here and here.

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Published by Coco on 23rd June 2015
Hi! This is awesome! Could you make an updated one some time please? Provided anything has come out within the past 4 years of course :) These games are so hard to find! :)
Published by Alex on 22nd September 2014
Link of distance
Published by david on 10th September 2014
hi, I really enjoy the finds you have on this site. A lot of them I'd heard of, but a surprising number I'd never seen! I understand your priorities may have changed, but it would still be cool if you continued this blog
Published by Bocleefus on 17th August 2014
Suprised OFF wasn't on these lists. Based on what you've posted, it seems like the sort of flavor of game you would be interested in. There's also the added fun of the immature jokes you get to make when talking to people about it. (If you haven't thought of them yet, don't worry, they'll come to you)
Published by John Smith on 27th January 2013
Well it is cool to see old games..:P old is always gold but ppl can't understand ...:D
Published by Chris on 26th November 2012
I know that this game is probably not on the list for a reason but one game made me think about life more than any other game, Crescendo. If you are open minded it is definitely a game worth checking out.
Published by Nessy on 10th September 2012
The game Spent was such an eye opener. I sat at my computer screen for a good 5 minutes unable to speak or even type. I'm a stay at home mother myself and my husband is the bread winner. I thought we were doing it tough... I had no idea.
Published by ryan on 22nd August 2012
i think i understand the pipedreamz game.....basically, you are a kid (i assume) who works at a local burger joint, obviously enough. The main point of the game are the day dreams. you flip burgers (work) and eat to give you more time and more health to daydream. I think the main point of the game is the dream aspect. Then again, maybe I'm thinking too much into it, but that's what it seemed like to me.
Published by Archgeneral on 13th August 2012
Pretentious Game and Give Up are two other good games that make one think. Play Prentious Game at: http://armorgames.com/play/13225/pretentious-game Play Give Up at: http://armorgames.com/play/13662/give-up
Published by danny parker on 3rd August 2012
this is cool thank you http://rulethefreeworld.blogspot.com/
Published by Annonymous on 11th June 2012
In "The end of us" I like to think of the comits like people, the purple one is the girl and the orange one is the boy, and at first they start out young and the orange bumps into the purple as if to say "Hey there!!" and then they start randomly intertwining with one and other and bumping together as if they are playing and then they start to slow down and take the same path as if they've grown older and fallen in love and then he stays by her side until she hits earth and dies as an old comit and then as if heart broken his light goes out and he dies too....this was just my interpretation of it, it's an amazing game and very touching
Published by neil on 24th April 2012
Spent is awesome.. I have yet to play the other games on this list.
Published by tiffnisqui on 23rd April 2012
flight... hard...i couldnt be bothered to finish it... sorry... what happens at the end???
Published by tiffnisqui on 23rd April 2012
wow... distance... makes me think...
Published by tiffnisqui on 23rd April 2012
omg, spent is hard but still i good game... now, time to try all of the other games
Published by tiffnisqui on 23rd April 2012
(i wish poeple would stop putting rude/mean/crude comment on this website) i tried all the games on 10 games that will make you think about life and LOVED every single one so i am sure i will love all of these games too...
Published by Andrew on 2nd March 2012
Great list, Tried "Spent" and all my money went down the drain pretty quickly. Will definitely try out a few more!
Published by Robbie on 27th February 2012
I wish that "Don't Sh*t your pants" was on this list. :P
Published by Irena on 22nd February 2012
I tried "Spend" game. It's a great game that teaches about spending habits and money managing.
Published by jeryd on 20th February 2012
no jason rohrer?
Published by Abrams on 5th January 2012
Wow.. just wow.. i played spent, it opened my mind, it's hard to earn money..
Published by Jody on 2nd January 2012
Some of these are just weird. Some people have too much time on their hands!
Published by XBIGY on 30th November 2011
As I Lay Dying really reminded me of the art style of Limbo, some of these games look amazing...
Published by Evers on 20th October 2011
in One Chance, talking to your boss on the roof doesn`t take on whole day, if you go back home you spend the whole day with your family, it fits
Published by Noah on 26th September 2011
Braid is an excellent, thought provoking game. I highly recommend it!
Published by avisioncame on 3rd September 2011
Another really good emotional and dark game is After Years in Dark Tunnels... Check it out!
Published by Scyllarus on 31st August 2011
Also - it's not exactly a scam as they're not conning money out of you for anything. Yeah, they have donations set up, but it's not like you automatically donate by playing.
Published by Scyllarus on 31st August 2011
@Forrest And their cause is...helping people in need? WOW! They're such terrible people to make the game slightly dramatic! HOLY CRAP GUYS WE SHOULD LYNCH THEM.
Published by Forrest on 29th August 2011
Spent would be a good game and a great way to get people to understand poverty and things if it didnt screw you at every turn. NO ONE has that many problems, every day of the week does not have to be an expense, heck i caught a cold after i got nothing but healthy food from the store, the game is a scam to get people to support there cause.
Published by Maxxy on 24th August 2011
Also, if you're open for suggestions, there's a game I know called 'Every Day the Same Dream'. It can be found here: http://armorgames.com/play/6244/every-day-the-same-dream I;m not sure if it is that special, but I found it moving, how each day, your choices change things
Published by Maxxy on 24th August 2011
;(. I played The End of Us sooo many times. And I never got tired of it. I felt the same sad feeling everytime. I just could not get myself to kill the orange meteor. I still have a tear it my eye right now...
Published by Ashley on 11th August 2011
I know I put this on another list, but Grey should definatly be on this list. http://www.kongregate.com/games/kevindoesart/grey
Published by Katie on 10th August 2011
oh and so is Alight http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/575956 (:
Published by Katie on 10th August 2011
I don't know if you did this one yet, but Closure is a great one! http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/480006
Published by Lotus on 30th July 2011
@Snowflower You surely can reset the game if you want. Right click on the game to open a window with several tabs on the bottom. Click on the folder with the arrows, then set the slider to zero and refresh.
Published by Josh on 23rd July 2011
@Snowflower You can't. That's the point.
Published by billy on 5th July 2011
you should do gateway! http://www.miniclip.com/games/gateway/en/
Published by Snowflower on 6th June 2011
How do you reset the one chance game?
Published by bobby on 30th May 2011
"as i lay dying" alludes to a faulkner novel--i think i like the book more.
Published by Paint on 25th May 2011
And nice list, I haven't played or heard of most of these, so thank you ^_^
Published by Paint on 25th May 2011
One Chance is VERY similar to Every Day The Same Dream, mainly in the physical environments themselves. The idea behind them is different enough that it's not a waste of time to play them both, but One Chance is rather a superficial game compared to EDTSD.
Published by Michelle on 8th May 2011
Amazing games, I've already played most of them and I'll make sure to play the ones I haven't. I love these entries x)
Published by Ethan on 1st May 2011
Haha, Prior! You included it! Thank you so much! :)
Published by Johnny on 30th April 2011
I love love love these lists. I definitely think Closure ( http://www.closuregame.com/closure.php ) should be mentioned somewhere, if it's not already. keep it up (:
Published by Eve on 27th April 2011
Here's a really interesting game about psychotherapy for stuffed animals. http://www.parapluesch.de/whiskystore/test.htm
Published by Meghan on 24th April 2011
I love these lists. One Chance was such a crazy designed game! Love it and it really got me thinking.
Published by Anon on 23rd April 2011
Wow, that was impressive how you found the song "Do you Realize" to match The End of Us. It was amazing.
Published by Mags on 23rd April 2011
Spent was one of the ones that really troubled me. As I played this game, I realized this is what most of my family goes through every month. I think everyone should play this game. Walking in someone's shoes for a day will really put things in prescriptive.
Published by Lilith at MMO Worlds on 23rd April 2011
Wow, Spent sounds like its a bit upsetting.
Published by olaf on 17th April 2011
"...But That Was [Yesterday]" by Michael Molinari Should be in the next list :)
Published by Oliver on 17th April 2011
So glad to see some familiar game designers featured! 'Distance' was so good, but I'm too afraid to play it again in case I get a bad ending, I don't think I could take it! 'One Chance' was very similar to 'Every Day the Same Dream' to me though I preferred the latter game. It definitly fills you with a sense of dread though! I love these indie game features! Thanks

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