the-inbetween.com is a weblog by Mike Nowak.
February 16th, 2009

You Probably Won’t Make It

You Probably Won't Make It

Jesse Venbrux’s latest, “You Probably Won’t Make It,” almost lives up to the title. It would be more appropriate if it was called “You Definitely Won’t Make It.” In this ultra-hard platformer, I managed to reach level 14 of 20 before I called it quits.

It doesn’t exactly fit the mold of what Auntie Pixelante calls “masocore”. It’s very hard, yes, but it’s not cheap as it toys with your expectations like others in the “genre”.

What I like the most about You Probably Won’t Make It is the way it visualizes your failures. After every failure, the game shows a trail of your movement. It’s a kind of track that can help you through some tricky, double-jump situations, but it resets after every failure so its usefulness is diminished. It would be ideal if it saved your “best” run.

Games that have you running through the same level or track benefit from visualizations like this since they provide a simple to understand measure of your progress. Racing games are the most frequent users of such a technique, often showing you a “ghost” version of your best run to compare how you’re doing, but there’s no reason that they should be the only genre to do this. Mirror’s Edge does the same (but, really, it too is a racing game) and the ghosts left a temporary trail, in the form of glowing footprints, that fade away far too quick.

You Probably Won't Make It

There is, however, a permanence to the red splatters of death in You Probably Won’t Make It. They persist not just for the session, but for every and all subsequent play-throughs (though there’s little reason to do so.) Each tricky section in the game, every choke point, gets thoroughly painted red. This design concept shares a lot in common with Jesse Venbrux’s earlier game Deaths, but in this case it’s solely single-player and not limited to the last fifty.

It’s a simple thing, but it gives the game an interesting aesthetic and a very personal feel: no single player’s game will end up looking like any other’s. The little red splatters distract you, if only for a while, from the realization that this is a very simple and very difficult game. It’s this nuance that makes the game better than it is and a fun little distraction for a few minutes (and a test of your patience.)

Oh, and supposedly level 18 is impossible. Spoilers! So, in that sense, it does mess with expectations and falls firmly into the “masocore” canon.

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