STORY GAMES: "Virtual Silence"
"Do you want to play?"
"Just tell me and I'll give the ball to you."
"Where did my ball go?"

"Warning: Contains flashing images which may cause photosensitive epileptic seizures.

Virtual Silence is an action game where the player takes control of a young boy named Jason, who has to sit through a series of experimental tests in a virtual world under the watchful eye of his mother and an unnamed doctor. Use the cursor keys to move, and hold the X key to shoot. Press the Z key to change the scenery, and tap the enter key to skip dialogue. The game has multiple endings."

Playing "Virtual Silence" is like sobbing while ice cold water rises up over your head as you wait to die in a sinking boat on the frozen ocean. You look below you and you see the impossible depths: a cavernous immensity that will slowly suck you into oblivion, filling your head with pressure until your ear drums burst. You will get to enjoy the sublime mystery of the ocean for three minutes of "total pain" until your lungs are empty, and then you will persist "alive" in unconsciousness for another few minutes while your brain dies and electricity stops animating the spongiform grey matter that you call your soul; your personality.

The premise of the game "Virtual Silence" is simple. You are an autistic child and your mother has taken you to an experimental doctor who performs unethical brain surgery on children. He hooks your mind up to a virtual reality device that simulates a prison of interlocking squares, bounded by doors of red, blue, and green.

"He seems to be doing well. And the experiment seems to be working well, too."

The virtual world you now inhabit is designed to teach you logic, motor skills, and empathy. You are supposed to learn about the persistence of objects and why people cry about death. In order to move through this world, you are able to fire explosive rockets and to place filters over your viewing screen. You can place three different colored filters, and when the filter is in place, all objects and enemies of that color disappear.

The game has three levels and three tests:

1). Can you outwit someone into giving you their beloved ball?
2). Can you help a person grieve for their dead dog?
3). Can you find the exit?

This game is available for free from Virtanen Games here. It is 2 MB. Here is everything I know about Virtanen Games:

"Virtanen is a small group,that makes games with Game Maker. Virtanen was started in the year 2002 and has lot's of experience making high-quality games."

I do not think Erkka and Tuukka Virtanen, the minds behind Virtanen, are native English-speakers or even human. One of them does all of the coding and the other does the music. I assume they are from one of those Scandinavian countries where it is always dark and the lone young lady in the town is wooed by fifteen hunchbacked, deformed aristocrats who each have their own castle. They take turns abducting her and feeding her their finest greenstuff and herb crackers to win her love. She never speaks and eventually flings herself from a cliff.

"The last phase of the test is about to begin."
"I just want to see my son soon."
"It shouldn't last long."

Tuukka and Erkka live in the town's hotel, a place once owned by their mummified mother who now sits eternal vigil in a locked upstairs room. They spend their time staring out the window and playing the same Nintendo that they stole from a traveling salesman who once made the mistake of renting a room here without leaving a paper trail. He saw the two children come in. He sat smoking and rubbing his whiskers. He smiled at them. He tried to say "hello" in their native language. He pointed to the Nintendo he was selling. The two children looked at each other, prepared the chloroform, and made their move.

"What's happening doctor? PLEASE TAKE THE HELMET OFF MY SON'S HEAD!"

There is no music in this game, and the art style is spare and hostile. Were you ever terrified by the silent infinity of Pong? Playing this game, you really get the feeling you are in the dead void deep within the mind of a child with serious emotional problems. Is there a link between video games and autism? I'm going to go ahead and make one right now. Video game profiency = temporary autistic state.

This is a game that is only held together by its very awesome and very disturbing story; by the glue of narrative that makes you keep playing. This is a fantastic achievement and is another indie argument for gaming as a distinct narrative art. If games can provoke existential unease, then they can also provide existential answers.

If you lose, you fry a child's mind -- a child that only wanted to be happy and quiet. You must keep playing. There is no princess. There is only torment. There is only the doctor's knife in the forehead of a young boy named Jason, who is screaming and who will not live.


PAINAJAINEN: You are locked in a nightmare world and must collect keys in order to open the locked gate and battle your demons. The moment you realize that you can fly is one of video gaming's sudden great triumphs.

KAIPUU: You never recovered from the death of your lost love, and so you enter an imaginary world of self-excoriation and misery. Learn to achieve balance by seeing how negative emotions and positive emotions are intertwined. Get the double-jump early, is my advice!

SEVEN MINUTES: You have seven minutes until you will die. What if you decided to play a video game with that time? You would want to win, wouldn't you?

Also, this month, Virtanen has released a new game called "THE MANIPULATOR" which I have yet to play, but which sounds like a good time:

"There are people among us who call themselves Manipulators. These Manipulators can take control of your mind and use you. They are a threat to us; we must get rid of them at once! Be alert! Do not trust anybody!"

Posted by miracle on Wed, 14 Jan 2009 13:22:33 -0500 -- permanent link

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