I doesn’t exist – a modern text adventure Review – Doesn’t Quite Do Enough

As video games have evolved, certain genres were left behind. Maybe the most notable example is the text adventure. What was once a staple of the medium is now nowhere to be found. I wouldn’t be surprised if a large number of people playing video games nowadays have no experience with the genre at all. Me included, by the way.

So here come developer LUAL Games and publisher DreadXP promising to bring the text adventure into the modern age with I doesn’t exist – a modern text adventure. But what does that actually mean? Of course, it means putting a meta spin on it, and making a game that’s only really a text adventure in parts.

The humble beginnings of your little adventure

But you wouldn’t know based on how I doesn’t exist starts. The bottom half of the screen is a text window to give commands, the top half of the screen is a visual representation of what’s happening in pixel art. And you find yourself in what’s essentially an escape room. Now, visually, it’s not a room as much as it is a little forest with a door embedded in one of the trees, but mechanically, it’s absolutely an escape room.

You start in front of a safe in which lies the key to the aforementioned door that you need to go through. Then spread across the 2D map are a plethora of objects that can be interacted with and need to be used in the correct order. A bucket hanging high in the tree, a firepit without wood or anything to start a fire, a shower that only gives you cold water (don’t ask me how this got there). With simple commands, you can tell your little guy to do things like walk left and right, pick up the item, look at an object etc. There’s also a little mushroom friend that will help you if you’re stuck.

What a cute little guy

All of this is rendered in a rather nice looking 2D pixel art world. The orange/yellow colour that dominates the frame here paired with the sunlight poking through the leaves make for an environment that’s not just pretty, but also quite relaxing.

As you start to get closer to opening the door, the game starts to change. The trailer and basic premise hint at this much, but what exactly happens from here on out is hard to talk about, as I naturally don’t want to spoil anything. I guess what I can say is that I doesn’t exist, as the title implies, is a game that deals with some existential themes. You keep telling this little pile of sprites on your screen what to do, but what if he also has a sense of his own, and isn’t exactly happy being commanded around all the time? Add to that themes of deteriorating mental health that come with these existentialist realizations, and you have got a pretty interesting conversation starter.

They’re doing fine, just having a little mental breakdown

Sadly, I doesn’t exist never manages to go beyond being just that, a simple conversation starter. While it has nice moments of meta awareness and confrontations with the player, I was waiting for that big moment that would make this something special. Unfortunately, I never got those. Without wanting to be too reductive, it never moved beyond being just a cute experiment for me.

Now, in all fairness, maybe I just happened to miss out on the really good endings. I doesn’t exist is a very short game that’s meant to be replayed multiple times if you want to get everything out of it. I did get a couple endings, but it’s possible, and likely, that I didn’t get to see them all. So maybe there’s that special one out there, but in all honesty I doubt it.

Ok what the hell is happening now?

Is I doesn’t exist a bad game? No. But it’s hard not to feel that potential for something more that it never manages to achieve. Nevertheless, it makes for a somewhat entertaining hour or two long play session. I just wish it would stick with me more afterwards, because I feel it’s clearly designed to do so.

Nairon played I doesn’t exist – a modern text adventure on PC with a review key. It will exclusively launch on PC.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments