By: Derek Yu

On: February 1st, 2008


Coil is an experimental Flash game with no instruction or clear direction.
Please keep an open mind while playing.

A bizarre game that definitely shows off Edmund’s talents as an artist and game designer. He and programmer Florian are in top form with this lovely little piece. I’m inclined to think you’ll agree (provided you don’t get stuck too early on).

The game is controlled with the mouse only.

  • JTR

    I have no clue what I’m doing in the RGB ball stage. The are avoiding the cursor. I know that much…

  • Neon

    try to separate them into their respective color groups. (that sounded more racial then intended)

    Now if anyone could help me with the flying around fetus balls shooting arrows…

  • Tommunism

    Hell of a game..seriously.

  • Neon

    Well i somehow managed to figure my way threw that one. Amazing game, i loved the sense of accomplishment once you found what to do. Lots of fun and nice poetry. Made my day.

  • raigan

    after beating the RGB balls stage it never moved on to the next stage, just kept “loading”..

  • Zeno

    Unique and new doesn’t necessarily mean good.

    It was frustrating from a gameplay standpoint, not because you were given no indication of what to do (though I think the story does give some hint of that), but because the controls were so damn clumsy.

    The “story”, as such was, granted, a hell of a lot more than you’d expect to find in a flash game, but I’m still having trouble drawing the connection from “different” to “good”.

    I did like the graphics, which were simple enough to look nice, but still realistic enough to be slightly disturbing. Also, that stage where you’re on the ground and you eat stuff with your tentacle/flagella thing is awesome. I think a whole game could easily be built around that mechanic.

  • wert

    excellent game ;) play now, it only takes a few minutes

  • Melly

    Zeno, the game doesn’t seem to be about polished gameplay mechanics. It’s about the feeling you have when you play through it. It’s far from perfect but it doesn’t have to be. It’s a heavily expressive piece of work and I’m glad to see people doing stuff like this. I almost don’t think it should be called a ‘game’, but that’s beside the point.

    I recommend everybody giving it a try.

  • JTR

    Neon: Thanks. I thought about it, tried it, and it seemed impossible.

  • Zaphos

    … I couldn’t separate the little colored balls either. And then I went back to try again and it was really easy. So maybe it depends a bit on just luck.
    Overall this isn’t really the type of game that interests me though.

  • Radix

    What the shit was that.

  • Advenith

    I’m confused as hell because the last bit of the poem wouldn’t show up. I felt like it ended abruptly… Maybe I clicked when I shouldn’t have or something.

  • Zeno

    Yeah, the last couple lines of the poem are obscured… I don’t know if that’s supposed to be some kind of “art” thing or what.

  • Dusty Spur

    raigan: It’s not loading, you’re supposed to make a counter-clockwise sircle with your cursor, like the dotted lines and arrows are. Unless you knew that already and it was just acting up for some reason.

    Anyways, just completed it. I feel like the unresponsiveness of the controls was a conscious design choice, and I think it sort of added to the game. Though the second and last levels seemed rather aimless, the game otherwise did a good job of communicating the goal. The story was also rather nice, though I’m still trying to decide exactly what to make of it.

    Very nice game overall!

  • Dusty Spur

    Psh, I misspelled “circle”.

  • Nikica

    Great !!!

  • deadeye

    I don’t get the cloud level. I’ve tried several different things with no luck. I’ve shot the other fetus a million times, I’ve tried avoiding it’s shots, I’ve tried flying to the top, the bottom, into the sun, around in circles (both directions) and I have absolutely no idea what I’m supposed to do to pass the level. I have a feeling it just hung up on me.

  • Wrestlevania

    Good Christ, trying for our first baby was easier than this — and I don’t remember having to feed any flying brains with meatballs either… ¬_¬

  • Chris

    I beat it no problem. However, in two of the levels I really have no idea what I did. I just screwed around (pun intended) for a while and then it faded to black. The levels were:

    – The level split into a top and a bottom half with female reproductive equipment on the bottom.

    – The level where you’re flying around in the dark and there is a moon in the background.

  • Chris

    Check that list, Derek. With spaces after the dashes. You failed last time.

  • king

    have you tried getting shot?

  • ithamore

    This game is silently screaming for an IndieFAQ.

  • Melly

    Heh, seems like people didn’t keep an open enough mind when trying this one out. Kind of disheartening to see these types of responses in a place like TIGS.

  • wormguy

    It was mildly enjoyable, but honestly I think it was a little too artsy for its own good. Figuring out the controls for each level was pretty entertaining, but beyond that the game didn’t have much substance, and some of the levels were kind of pointless and frustrating…

    Maybe I’m looking at it the wrong way, but I don’t think screaming that the game is experimental should be an excuse for not making it fun.

    The art was fantastic though.

  • Moose

    The loading is way too slow. I got quickly tired of having to go do something else while waiting between the subgames.

  • ithamore

    Maybe it is a bit too short for requiring an FAQ, but it might be helpful for some.

    From the above comments I understood the colors of the 2nd level had to be separated, but I thought it would only work if they were separated into 3 groups instead of merely separating each of the colors into any necessary number of isolations.

    It was the only level I had difficulty with, and every time I failed at completing it I only became more frustrated instead of wanting to come back to face the challenge. Only the positive comments on this game kept me reluctantly coming back.

    The rest of the game was pretty easy, especially with the above hint about the cloud/shooting level.

    I liked the game’s uniqueness in terms of story and some of the gameplay, but I had more of a feeling of having merely played through it instead of having enjoyed it (even with the belief that the game is more of an experiment than anything else).

    Please understand that the 2nd level is making me a bit biased.

  • Limousinedriver

    You know what I realized? This game is actually good with good controls. I was really frustrated with it last night because I was playing it on an older computer.

    Trust me, the only way to play this game is on an awesome computer. It’s surprisingly very demanding.

  • Corpus

    Melly, a game’s being experimental does not make it good. This game is experimental, and for that it should be applauded; simply put, however, it is not a good game.

    I gave up on the third level, where you have to swim your eggy thing down to the bottom. Every time I managed to get near to the bottom by some miracle, those annoying little cells shaped like rippling, strangely fat tampons hit me and pushed me all the way back up. The final time I tried, they pushed me all the way to the top and got me caught in the corner. New ones kept coming, so it was actually impossible for me to escape.

    It’s an interesting idea, but has not been implemented very well and, ultimately, the game design is flawed.

  • Zeno

    Yeah, experimental or not, when I play a GAME, the very most important thing that I judge is GAMEPLAY. Just like moviewatch and songlisten, gameplay is the defining feature of a game; everything else is just icing on the cake.

  • Carter

    This game wasn’t very fun. I liked it a lot.

  • Melly

    I don’t really see it as a game. You could call it some kind of interactive expressionist thing, but I doubt the author’s intention was in creating a game. Like I said I feel it was in creating an unique interactive experience. I admitted it’s flawed and more polish would have made it overall better, but I feel it’s very good on what it attempts to do, and that people seem to be having their minds too focused on how refined the gameplay is and not letting themselves simply try and see what’s most important.

    Maybe I just didn’t get frustrated enough on the second and third parts of it. I’ve been known to be a bit more patient than most when playing games.

  • PHeMoX

    It’s awesome, really nicely designed and the game wasn’t all that challenging if you noticed from start that it actually does sort of gives away what to do. In the very first level you have to use a certain motion, the second builds upon this motion and so on. It really shouldn’t be too hard figuring out what to do in my opinion, even separating the colors and catching arrows kind of made sense too. I think it was less about the biological things that actually happen and more about neat gameplay inspired by that. In that respect the designers did a great job.

  • Edmund

    though do appreciate all your comments and nit pickings, I thought id put in my two cents and mention what our goal with coil was.

    The 1st goal was to make a game without any “hand holding”, something with out any instruction. the theory behind that was that people would get more out of figuring out something for themselves than being told what to do or have their hand held through the game.

    the 2nd was to make a game that was more of an experience than a “game”. I went out of my way to put in a lot of “non-game” ideas and tried to set a mood that isn’t seen much in games today. I wanted the whole thing to play out more like a song or painting then a game, a one time experience that left the player feeling something and maybe making them think a little.

    over all I think we did a good job and I hope some of you “got it” enough to have at least a somewhat memorable/enjoyable experience.


  • Limousinedriver

    Well Edmund, at least you’ve made something polarizing. Either we like it or we hate it; there doesn’t seem to be anyone sitting on the fence.

    That means you accomplished your mission as far as “game is art” and you should be proud. :-)

  • Al King

    “…gameplay is the defining feature of a game; everything else is just icing on the cake…”

    Well, no. A text can focus on whichever feature it bloody well likes – a music video focuses on complementing the song, a film focuses on a plot, a video art display focuses on imagery – yet they all use the same techniques. Just because a text happens to use a certain component, such as interactivity,doesn’t ipso facto mean its the focus: as Edmund himself highlighted, the intent was to create an ‘experience’, whatever that means. Perhaps you come to TIGs for games, and that’s all well and good, but pigeonholing things for its own sake is just daft.

    I enjoyed it, I guess, though the ‘falling’ level was particularly, aneurysm-inducingly irritating. The vagueness of the controls also felt like it got in the way; most of the time I was focussing on how things weren’t doing what I was trying to get them to do rather than actually playing. However inelegant blatantly telling people directly how to control things is, at least it makes you think less about the controls themselves and more about what you’re actually doing.

  • Bob

    Melly likes flOw.

  • Farbs

    At 10fps this game plays like suck. I tried again with flash set to low quality & things were much more enjoyable. I appreciate that you probably don’t want to sully your screen with a “toggle quality” button, but you probably also don’t want high levels of frustration blocking people from engaging with the game. Perhaps a button on the front screen would help?

    Would I be right in guessing that the poem screens do some loading in the background? I found that spinning my cursor around in a circle often did nothing for a few seconds, but would then mysteriously work. If it is in fact loading then I suggest you consider giving some feedback to the player to let them know they can engage with the screen. It’s very frustrating when you’re only guessing how to interact with something, and 90% of the time it doesn’t work.

    Interactive art is cool & I admire what you’re doing.

  • Bob



    In the uterus level, you have to tickle it by wiggling your mouse up and down. In the night level, you have to get to the top of the screen.

    Oh, I liked the game, too. I don’t think that it has much replay value, though.

  • Dracko

    Oh please, Melly. An open mind doesn’t mean you have to accept every thing that comes by like some kind of art slut.

  • Dracko

    Edmund, while your objectives are noble enough, they’d be better served by making sure that methods of interacting with the peace feel natural throughout.

    AI King: Don’t be an elitist prick. It’s not a matter of pigeon-holing at all: The strength of games are natural interactivity and response. These should always be a major focus in any game, whether an “art” piece or not.

    Games as art is a load of crap either way.

  • Dominic White

    Dracko, coming along and insulting people who have the nerve to enjoy art that you don’t is… well, kinda assholish. Very assholish even. Telling people not to be an elitist prick AND telling people that their art is crap in the same breath, too is monumentally hypocritical.

    It would seem that Coil really is bringing out the jerks today.

    For the record, I played through it easily, without frustration. Only puzzle I had any issue with was cell division, which took me under a minute to crack. The others were pretty intuitive. Perhaps I’m some sort of genius gaming savant, but I doubt it.

    Not sure where the complaints about frustrating controls are coming from. They’re deliberately slow, but they’re also quite responsive. You just need to take your time and not rush things.

  • Chris

    @Bob- Probably old news by now, but I know I didn’t get to the top of the night level. I was still about 1/3 up the screen when it faded and showed me the next text clip. Bug?

    I’m not sure about the uterus level, maybe I did that.

  • Melly

    Don’t feed the trolls.

    Also, the final part doesn’t require much in terms of reaching a certain goal. You just need your little eggs to fall onto the water enough until you can’t float anymore.

  • PHeMoX

    “Games as art is a load of crap either way.”

    You’re severely in denial there man.

  • kt

    This game was almost too easy but so innovative and fun!
    I’m interested now in seeing if there are multiple endings, since on one of the levels the spinning circle arrow thingy at end level moved in the opposite direction. Perhaps as a result of how I ended it.
    Branching levels based on how you played? Just theory though, haven’t read a thing on it.

    Edit: On further reading one person went down on the last level to finish it, whilist I floated up high as I could to finish it so multiple level finishes definetly exist.

  • Corpus

    Bob, who on earth DOESN’T like flOw?

    Dracko, don’t be a dick.

    And, okay, I take back what I said. I worked out that you need to wiggle in level 3. Now I’m stuck on level 4.

    It’s an interesting game, but it’s not really enjoyable. It’s basically an art-house game.

    Like Slacker, the film. It’s not really that entertaining to watch, and at times becomes downright boring (after all, nothing actually happens), but it’s always somehow interesting, and when you finish watching it, you want to watch it all over again, although you can’t put your finger on why.

    I don’t know if Coil makes you want to play it again, as I haven’t finished.

  • Alevice

    Regarding the uterus level: The bottom part of the screen actually is a close up of the embryo’s bottom section.

    The things on the left and right turn the embryo. The thing on the middle sucks the little food things floating on the uterus, and the bottom thing is the accelerator.

    I really loved the ambience this game had, but I agree an slightly stronger visual feedback on some particular levels would have been helpful.

  • Grigory

    Beautiful. Games like these are the only reason I browse this site to be honest. Who cares about the latest rpg clone or falling brick game anyways?

  • John



  • Corpus

    Holy balls, what happened to my second comment? It’s disappeared. That isn’t cool. I said a lot. Anyway, I’m pro-Coil, now.

    John, experiment with propulsion techniques *wink*