By: Derek Yu

On: April 13th, 2009


Judith is a new game collaboration between Terry Cavanagh (Don’t Look Back, Pathways) and Stephen “increpare” Lavelle (Rara Racer, Opera Omnia). If the above screenshot makes you want to play, then you should play, by God! It’s good.

TIGdb: Entry for Judith

  • http://www.dyson-game.com Alex May

    I also don’t think that people who like this sort of thing are somehow wanting all indie games to be like this. That’s a straw man argument.

    I think it’s pretty disgusting to post this kind of unpleasant vitriol. The fact that these games bother people so much is pretty funny really. Your tiny minds are having so much trouble coping with the coexistence of games like Judith and ‘fun’ games, so much so that you have to put down everyone who can appreciate both types of work, and try to devalue things. I feel sorry for you guys :)

  • Corpus

    Maimed Fox, just to be clear, I was arguing against the people claiming that games absolutely have to be fun. I really enjoyed Judith.

    I can appreciate that it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, by the way. Most of the arguments made by its detractors have been pretty awful so far, but a few people have made fair comments.

    It’s interesting that this game has generated so much discussion and/or flaming! I’m too tired to work out what that means, exactly, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

  • Maimed Fox

    err, 10 minutes :o

  • TCM

    I never said games HAVE to be fun, by the way. It’s better that they are, but above all else, they should be entertaining. That is the point of entertainment.

    I haven’t played Judith, so I’m not arguing either way in that, I just saw this as an interesting discussion that had gone its own way.

  • Minsk

    (spoilers. Also 3rd try at postin this)
    Interesting game. In the end I was totally expecting to find a skeleton in the last room, but instead it’s “WAT.. Oh hai Emily, totally forgot you were in this game”, cue happy ending :)

    The game’s underlying theme only became apparent to me after reading Maskfield’s post, which I can say has raised my appreciation of the game. It would have been great if you left something like this at the end of the game. Really, leaving players with a sense of understanding is a good way to conclude a game.

    I kinda felt railroaded when you couldn’t take the necklace back, or run off with the knife. I played the game twice just to see if it was possible (Call this unintended replay value :o) This would have been a good chance to have multiple story branches, but only now I see having these would interfere with the theme of control. Even so, the storyline is the game’s true strength lies, so adding more to it would make the game much better.

  • TCM

    Oh, one more thing:

    Art value, entertainment value, fun value, and the like are not at all mutually exclusive. World of Goo is probably the best example of every great quality of indie gaming melting together into pure awesome.

  • Chris Whitman

    I’m probably just adding fuel to the fire here, but I don’t get the need to loudly declare that little sketches like this are not games because there are no ‘choices.’

    It seems, I don’t know, snooty? Most FPS style games do not present the player with significant choices, nor do rhythm games or old school track and field games, and people don’t seem to wander around saying “I like them, but they sure ain’t games!”

    It seems a bit like, I don’t know, like people have a definition they like, and they’re just strongly resisting the push to expand that definition to incorporate things which many others feel it should encompass. It’s hard to have a shared dialogue when people are stubborn, is what I’m saying, and I think it doesn’t help when a bunch of people are hogging a word.

    I mean, if you take out the pretend risk of dying (which quick saving has eliminated anyway, really), this is just as much a game as any first person shooter. It isn’t like Marcel Duchamp has thrust a bar of soap into your face and is asking you to call it a game.

  • Jimmy Curbstomp

    Ok, so how did Emily manage to lock herself in room when the key was buried in a dead guy untold years ago?

    I think Jeff should murdered Emily when he found her. (After all, he takes the dagger when you examine it). First off, she would be punished for being the world’s biggest idiot, and secondarily, the plot of the two stories would fit together and we wouldn’t have that nasty happy ending crap.

  • Toby

    This honestly just wasn’t very good to me. I didn’t see the whole creepy atmosphere everyone is talking about. I thought the narrative was rather pretentious. And giving the illusions of control was just more of an annoyance than a feature.

    I think this would have been better served as a simple noninteractive narrative, or an animation.

  • some guy

    Just so there is no confusion, I think that Cavanagh and Lavelle are badasses of the highest order for making a game like Judith. But…

    As a “game” Judith is pretty bland. As “art” it lacks subtlety or any sort of depth. Seriously, if games are to be judged as art then close to 100% of games, indie included, are really bad. Despite this, I am excited to see developers experimenting with our conceptions of what games can and can’t be. Within the medium of “games” Judith is very innovative. It uses a familiar aesthetic to present a decidedly “non-gamesey” story and I think this is a very good thing. Unfortunately, I just don’t think it does a very good job of it. Other than innovativeness, Judith doesn’t really have much going for it. There is a lot of potential in games like Judith, but that potential has yet to be lived up to. Games are still primarily a means of entertainment and nearly all attempts to use them as anything but else end up being kind of crappy.

    @voiceoftheindiemovement – Keep on raging you self-righteous prick.

  • fabamatic

    It’s not a great game but I must admit that I played it just to know the story.

    I believe that Judith’s dream is that Emily’s husband is going to kill her. He has some piece of jewlery in his hand a present from John to Emily.

  • Maimed Fox

    @Corpus: I wasn’t really directing it at you, just giving my 2 cents :)

    @Jimmy Curbstomp: (spoilarz) I think the present/future/whatever is supposed to be haunted by the past/whatever world, or they are somehow alternate dimensions or something like that. It’d also explain the doors opening.

  • gustav

    I enjoyed the game a lot :)
    Good work Terry and Stephen

  • Zixinus

    I really like how many people defend this game due to the simple fact that its indie, responding to critisms by telling that they lack reason or that the critics are foaming-in-the-mouth-mainsteam-players who can’t appreciate ART.

    Really people, just because its indie, it doesn’t mean that its beyond criticism. Just because its different, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have to meet certain expectations. Just because it strives for a different experience, doesn’t mean that we are not allowed to complain if we found that experience uninteresting or unfulfilling. Just because its indie, doesn’t mean that its necessarily deeply artistic or artistic at all.

    Nevermind that the story was confusing and unfocused. You can tell that it was transcribed from a written story and more could have been done to translate the story from written text to video game. Different textures could have been used and the speaker’s could have been identified. Differences in time could have been shown by giving slight changes in texture.

    Also, the modern game is set in a CASTLE. But when you start the game, you are told that the place is abandoned by years by a company. Anachronism or just plain, confused, I-want-to-be-subtle ending?

    Also, the bloody treasury and armoury was just hilarious. Why on earth would you keep treasure bloodied if you have a choice? Any competent weapon user also doesn’t leave his weapon bloody. You take care of your own weapons and someone who is likely to have a complete armoury, the more likely. Also, why keep a SECRET armoury? How the hell is there a SECRET garden?

    The more you think about the less sense it makes.

    The story sinks of the “oh look how clever I am by leaving plot holes and dodge criticism for it by telling that its open for interpretation” attitude prevalent among indie games. Leaving something to speculation is fine, but only when there is basis for that speculation. Purposely ignoring plot holes is not giving basis for anything but criticism for bad story-writing

    The controls are unnecessarily laggy (I don’t need WASD and mouse, I just want to walk faster and turn faster) and the graphics deeply poor (we’re not living in the DOS age anymore, you can use enough pixels or polygons or whatever to make a FACE). Minimalistic graphics and poor graphics are not the same thing.

    Also, the game just goes trough the same motions again and again. You go trough the secret passage and go trough the mysteriously-unlocked door.

    As an experiment it is interesting, but that’s it. It’s an experiment. As an experiment, it can be forgiven much. But as a full game, it simply fails.

    Just because its an experiment doesn’t mean that its holy or greater than anything mainstream. Its just an experiment and I think the authors would be more interested in honest opinions about their new mechanics rather than uncritical praise.

  • sinoth

    Zixinus: It’s not that we want to disregard any criticism of indie games, it’s that rabble rabblerabblerabble rabble BANG vraaawwwmmmZZZZZT CLICKhisssssssh … silence

  • Flamebait

    People keep mischaracterizing this as something novel. I had my first suspicion of its highly derivative nature when I read the tagline “game about control” (or, lack thereof), and it was well-founded.

    In fact, to reduce the player’s control to near-zero is utterly typical of games. Judith simply follows the classic go to A, go to B, go to C format. If you enjoyed it, good for you! But recognize that this is not a vision of the future of game design, rather it’s a slightly strange rehash of its past. The uniplanar (I *did* just make that word up) square tile world should’ve made that truth obvious.

  • Gravious

    Gotta say… felt like a cheap cave story rip-off to me :-/

  • Paul Eres

    Zinxinus: actually the only people talking about this being art are sarcastic detractors. The people who like the game didn’t even mention the word art. So “I really like how many people defend this game due to the simple fact that its indie, responding to critisms by telling that they lack reason or that the critics are foaming-in-the-mouth-mainsteam-players who can’t appreciate ART.” is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve read in this thread.

  • Blank

    I think by virtue of creating so much discussion and polarized opinions, the game has succeeded.

  • http://www.dyson-game.com Alex May

    Succeeded in being what? A game? A work of art? I don’t think controversy is a fundamental part of either of those things. I also don’t think the game was designed to polarise opinion or to reach a wide audience, so I don’t think suggesting that success as measured by marketing is valid at all. That’s the kind of thing Bruce Everiss might say and we don’t want to be like him do we? :)

  • some guy

    Blame it on the bossa nova.

  • Davide “Gendo Ikari” Mascolo

    Even as a long-time fan of Indie gaming, I still have many difficulties in getting into these “art games” (I understand it’a an incorrect term, and you don’t like it, but bear with me). For example, one of the few I liked was Passage, for how it rendered the passing of life, while I found Seven Minutes poor and pretentious.

    Of Judith, I loved the graphics, the use of sound, and the flow of the two parallel storylines. Controls were perfectly fine. However, even with such short lenght, I found the atmosphere waning after some minutes, because I was forced to follow a completely predefined path. That was the authors’ intention, but a couple of comments here also recommend that you should approach Judith not expecting much from it as a game, but as sort of an “interactive” story. But then, if it’s not a game, why is it discussed here, on an Indie gaming site?

    Take this consideration as it comes, maybe I’m still too much of a “mainstream” gamer to be objective about these works; however, sometimes they make me wonder if the videogame medium is really good to convey some types of messages or narrations – maybe it’s not “universal” as hoped?

  • Frank

    ah come on. It was shit.

  • Zecks

    The reason art games don't work is that they're trying to get everyone to accept games as “normal” art.

    Games aren't and will never be viewed as art in the same way as paintings, books, movies etc. BECAUSE THEY'RE HIGHER LEVEL ART THAN THOSE, AND “ART” GAMES ARE TRYING TO PULL THEM DOWN TO THEIR LEVEL. People should adapt to games, not the other way around. It's their loss if they don't *get* them.

    Not that games are anywhere near their maximum artistic potential, but GOD DAMMIT.