Saturday, July 30, 2011

Top 50 Video Game Moments: Number 38

Apologies for the delay. Yesterday belonged to Trinkenspiel. Now that I've downed my homebrews and my Maker's Mark and discussed everything from the state of popular music to how adorable Benno's cats are, I return you to your regularly scheduled countdown.

Today's Top 50 Gaming Moment comes to us from the mostly unknown freeware game Eversion. What I'll be discussing makes the game essentially pointless to play, so if you haven't checked it out, do yourself a favor and go here and pick it up. A quick playthrough (i.e. not the 100% perfect ending) only takes a little under an hour to complete. It's free, so it's got to be worth it, right?

If you've played it already (or if you foolishly plan not to or even more foolishly plan to spoil it for yourself before playing) the rest of the article is after the jump.

True "horror" is games is a very tricky and rare thing, only achieved in fleeting glimpses. Most games try to add "atmosphere" with lighting gimmicks (as seen in Doom 3, with the "gun or flashlight" cockflickery) or jump scares. Even series otherwise known to be "scary" only bring the goods in short bursts. Sometimes those moments are great (chainsaw decapitation, anyone?), but they still don't leave any lasting effect like creepy moments in movies or books. To date, I've only had one game leave me with that cold shiver that persisted even after I had quit playing, and I found it in a seemingly cutesy 8-bit platform game of all places.

Eversion starts out seeming very cheery. The plot of the game is essentially "save the princess", and the protagonist (a walking flower) starts out on his merry way. The music is uplifting, there are flowers everywhere, even the enemies are prancing around smiling.

That doesn't last long.

Not pictured: Anything from beyond the first 5 minutes of gameplay.

Gradually, the music goes from cheerful to somber, to haunting, to incredibly warped (one of the final level's "music" is just an unaccompanied heartbeat). The enemies go from happy prancing smilers to one-eyed monstrosities. Angry red hands reach up from the abyss and try to grab you as you jump over cracks in the ground.

Also, walls of blood and floating death hands.
Most unnerving are the messages when you die.For the first few levels, any failure is greeted with an enthusiastic "Ready!". Around the 5th level, as the gameplay goes (seemingly literally) to hell, you're weclomed with messages like "Give up", "Mother", and the occasional pitch black screen. The most effective of these (to me, at least) is the banner simply reading "Behind you". For an 8-bit game to achieve the level of immersion to make the old "Ooh, don't look behind you" bit creepy is not an easy task, but Eversion is nothing if not effective. The twist ending is just icing on the cake (the 100% "good" ending is just as twisted, if not quite as jarring).

Oh, and remember...


  1. So I played it this morning. Didn't want to take the extra time to get all the gems, so I looked up the "good" ending on YouTube and it was about as expected. The creepiest part for me was, "Ready! die!"

    There have been several games that I have found creepier. You want referrals?

  2. I'll admit, I checked it out at about 2 in the morning, while already a bit paranoid about a particular real-life event, so maybe I was just a bit more receptive to the mood the game was trying to put out.

    Referrals would be fantastic.