Man, remember Curiosity? It was the zenith of Peter Molyneux’s meteoric rise to self-parody, a glorious final chapter to a book that did nothing but tell you how awesome the previous chapters were supposed to be. While it’s easy to paint the man as a snake-oil salesman, I never felt like he was intentionally deceiving people. Instead, it felt as if there were a version of the gaming medium that only existed in his head, somehow conducive to offering these life-changing experiences that he frequently promised. Curiosity was this concept at its most transparent, offering a grand reward for a mundane task. It was a reward that we all knew would be disappointing, but we still found ourselves unable to look away, the alluring power of “what if” making us slow down to get a better view of the crash.
Godus is… apparently still in early access, and I imagine the Fates have decided that Peter will now have to work on the game for the rest of his life as some sort of karmic repentance. This, of course, leaves a gap in the market that could really only be filled by indie devs on a mission to create batshit insane experiments that feel like they would have been conceived by Molyneux himself, niches of a niche that border what people would actually tolerate as a “game”.
You Have 293 Keys is perhaps the most blatant example of this, asking you to suss through a random haystack of similar-looking keys to open a single lock. There’s nothing else to do. It’s mundane and, by its own admission, ultimately kind of pointless, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t spend almost 20 minutes of my life going through that pile of keys. Perhaps that says more about me than it does any sort of message, accidental or otherwise, that the game may have, but I feel this odd compulsion to celebrate the fact that it exists, agnostic to whether or not anyone demanded it.
At around the 10 minute mark, I felt myself fall into a sort of trance, as if no longer in control of my own body, letting my brain go on auto-pilot as I moved to grab a key, use it, then toss it aside in one swift motion, not even allowing myself to hear the brief looping music sample that presumably existed to offer the tiniest bit of mental stimulation. Even knowing that there was no way for this 24 hour Game Jam experiment to offer anything substantial on the other side of that gate, I needed, for some reason, to open it. Maybe it was an odd desire for ironic self-fulfillment, knowing that few would play the game and even fewer would actually go through the trouble of finishing it, not for a second considering the very real possibility that this was just one gigantic troll and none of the keys would work, making me the ultimate loser.
271 keys and 17 minutes later, I opened that gate, ensuring that no one could possibly mistake me for such.