Friday, March 6, 2009

Midnight Snack: Don’t Look Back

The game starts with Orpheus by I can’t tell you how much I want you to play Don’t Look Back.  It’s presented by Kongregate and developed by Terry Cavanaugh, a young Irishman whose work can also be seen over at his site distractionware (PS great name, Terry).

Don’t Look Back is a modern telling of the Orpheus myth using Atari-style graphics and simple gameplay.  For those of you unfamiliar with Orpheus’s story, you need to know that his wife, Eurydice, dies and he journeys to the Underworld (no, not that Underworld) to get her back.  The game’s title refers to the stipulation that during he and Eurydice’s walk back to the land of the living, Orpheus is forbidden to look back at her, lest she vanish and die a second death.  Know that this fateful walk makes up the latter portion of the game.  However, none of this story is made explicit in the game.  You simply go on his journey.  There’s no dialogue, no text other than the main menu. 

I like this “classic” videogame look applied to a “classic” tale.  It is an adaptation, of course – the original Orpheus never picked up a pistol and shot Hades in the face with it (though the Mega Man-inspired boss battles are well done).  But like one of my favorite adaptations of this myth (and less like some other myth-to-game adaptations), the emotional content is there.  Mistakes made in the final levels force you to look at Eurydice, causing her death.  You’re allowed infinite retries of a given level, but that doesn’t make it any less painful to see her go.  And I won’t ruin the end for you.  Just know that it’s well done and fits this particular adaptation quite well.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.