Continue?9876543210
Gameplay 8
Graphics 8
Sound 8

I didn’t quite know what to expect from Continue but I certainly enjoyed the experience. The game might seem a little pretentious, but it handles mature themes in an interesting manner and managed to keep me hooked right to the bitter end. It is not often that a game challenges players to confront their own mortality, but I think Continue has pulled it off admirably.

Gameplay: A game that challenges you to think instead of just testing your reflexes.

Graphics: Moody and atmospheric in a retro kind of way.

Sound: A brilliant soundtrack with good sound effects

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Continue?9876543210

Developer: Jason Oda | Publisher: Jason Oda | Release Date: 2014 | Genre: Action / Adventure / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

One of the most frustrating experiences of my youth was watching the timer on a continue screen count down from nine to zero and not having any quarters left. Some games such as Ninja Gaiden and Final Fight even took it a step further by showing your character in some kind of peril or pain while the numbers ticked down to guilt trip you into parting with your money. These days the dreaded game over screen is a rarity in video games as you are usually dumped back to the nearest checkpoint or save spot but in Continue?9876543210 the protagonist is not so fortunate.

The game opens with the death of a video game character and instead of continuing the player lets the counter run down to zero. The character, which can be one of 6 named heroes is then unceremoniously discarded to the limbo of random access memory and faced with inevitable deletion. Initially things are very confusing as the other non player characters that you encounter are either sprouting gibberish or have accepted their fate. However, your character has a strong will to live and sets out to escape the purge of the so called Garbage Collector that is laying waste to everything.

You only face one type of enemy in Continue, chomping boxes that look like pixel art versions of Steven King’s Langoliers but they are more of a hindrance than a threat. Your true foe is time as each second you waste brings the Garbage Collector one step closer to erasing your character for good. The game consists of 11 areas, but you will only see six in a complete playthrough which provides some replay value. The levels are randomly assigned but each is split up into either four rounds of 45 seconds or two rounds of one minute each.

During each round you have to run around the area you are in and talk to the other NPCs that flicker in and out of existence. Some will impart words of wisdom that you have to remember while others unlock doors in exchange for food. As you enter the unlocked doors you either have to answer a question based on information you heard or return an item that your character acquired while still alive. Get it right and you can choose between lightning and prayers. Select lightning and some of the blocks that bar your exit from the level is destroyed while choosing prayer grants a shelter in the lonely town that you enter after every two levels. Your first priority should be clearing a path to the exit because if you remain in the level after the time runs out you will fall victim to the Garbage Collector.

Prayers should not be neglected, however, as the shelters in the lonely town is the only way you will survive the storms caused by the Garbage Collector. If you lose all your shelters or run out of time before you can reach a new one it is the end for your character. During levels your character is sucked into a mini-game at the end of each round and these can range from a space invaders style shooter to a top down dungeon crawl. If you do well you are rewarded with food and keys that unlock further doors on the level. However if you die you will lose food or even some of the shelters that you have acquired through prayer. This might all sound rather confusing, but you will soon get the hang of things while playing the game.

Continue features a very unique art style where everything looks like it is made up of mosaic tiles. The effect is simplistic, but fits the theme and atmosphere of the game quite well. The blocky visuals might remind some people of Minecraft but don’t expect the gameplay to have anything in common with Notch’s creation. My only gripe with the visuals is that the font used for the text is a bit harsh on the eyes. The excellent music stole the show for me and the game uses the melancholic tunes to really set the tone for your adventure. Sound effects are equally good, although there is no speech at all. I played the game using a controller, which worked well for the most part despite feeling a bit loose at times.

Continue is a game that is designed to make you think and I was so caught up in the experience that I completed my initial playthrough in one sitting. It was only after taking off my headphones and putting down my controller that I realized nearly two hours elapsed since my journey began. I also immediately had the urge to jump back into the game with a new character and see the levels that I missed out on the first time round.

Even the developer who has drawn on his own personal experiences to create the game admits that it is an experimental art game that you will either love or hate. Personally I enjoyed my time with the game and while some of the dialogue sounded like gibberish I did encounter phrases that resonated with me. It is a unique experience and probably not something for players who refuse to venture outside their chosen genres, but if you are willing to try something new then give it a shot.

*Review originally published January 2014.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP
  • Processor: 2.0 GHz
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 512 MB of memory
  • Hard Drive: 250 MB available space
  • OS: Mac OS X 10.5
  • Processor: 2.0 GHz RAM
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 512 MB of memory
  • Hard Drive: 250 MB available space
  • OS: Ubuntu Linux 10.10
  • Processor: 2.0 GHz RAM
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 512 MB of memory
  • Hard Drive: 250 MB available space

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