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

  • Lynchpin

    Despite the lo-fi, gritty graphics, I have to say that this little piece definitely made my night.


    @Bad Sector, this isn’t an FPS, and I think being forced to turn around slowly really adds to the gameplay, as when I first heard the moans of the prisoner, I was seriously terrified of turning around. Since I finished it on one stand, I couldn’t possibly know if there was something behind me or not, just waiting to bring a huge “GAME OVER” to my face.

    The game had a very, very unnerving atmosphere and I played it just now, in my dark room, head phones on before I’m going to bed. I had a sense of dread through out the experience. I have a feeling that I’ll dream about this, so congratulations on that; the game gets full score on the atmoshpere in my book.

    And for the record, I’m not the type to get scared watching scary movies, but games such as Silent Hill really disturb me, in the finest sense of the word.

    The sound design and audio in general was pretty much perfectly executed, so a big cheers for that.

    The story was at first quite confusing but it ties up nicely in the end, although, the ending was a bit predictable.

    All in all, and for the tl;dr folk: it’s a really good interactive story to waltz through.

  • http://www.casualexplosion.com Uesugi

    Not an interactive story. The story never branches.

    Though I did enjoy it and experienced a subtle and enjoyable sense of dread. So well done to the authors.

    However I was a bit disappointed by the completely wrong “interactive fiction” tag. This was as interactive as a paperback novel. In the sense of, “hey I can interact with this page all I want before reading the next one!”

  • Bad Sector

    Orcs & Elves on mobile phones use a raycasting engine and has such “cinematic” moments. Yes its not made by a couple of indies, but that doesn’t invalidate the precedence. Not that it matters anyway.

    WHEN did i say that i expected this to be a FPS? I never did. In fact i had a non-shooter idea for a first person game, for which i wrote the RayFaster engine. Its not like i think that first person perspective = FPS.

    Now if you check the above link, you’ll notice that i don’t use mouse look. But this is because of Flash limitations – i would (nearly) kill to have mouse look in there. I do use mouse though, although i doubt my use makes any sense with Judith. _However_ as i said, there isn’t any technical reason (unlike my case) to not use mouse look and i don’t really buy into “adds to the gameplay” stuff. If a game has crippled controls by design, then the design is bad. However i don’t believe that because otherwise the game seems good.

    Of course its always possible that my frustration stems from my inability to add mouse look in Flash, _but_ i really really believe that any first person game feels better with mouse look because the mouse is currently the best analog input device every PC has. In the example you gave about the sound, i would move the mouse to turn around quickly by instinct, knowing exactly how much to move the mouse to stop there – analog input (incidentally, to make up for the lag of mouse look in Rombo i used Shift as a “quick turn” key that turn 180 degrees – some people told me that this actually saved them a couple of times).

  • jdeuel

    I appreciated the atmosphere, very nice music. However I am unpleased with what many have complained about already, that we’re powerless to do anything not pre-arranged by the author. There isn’t even an opportunity to get lost in the tiny castle and set path. It takes me out of the story knowing that every time I woke up “ok this is where I have to go.”

  • jimmythechang

    @AmmEn: Well it wouldn’t be a redefinition – there’s always going to be a place in games (and in my heart) for God Hand and other things where you just whoop ass. I just don’t feel the urge to put everything into a labeled can and say “this is an art game” and “this is a commentary on such-and-such.” Plus, take movies for instance: as a medium that originated as pure entertainment, with flipbooks and nickelodeons and silent films, look where it ended up.

    And yes, mouselook, savestates, and a run button would make the game that much more accessible, but we’re in a unique position where we can impose conscious constraints on the player. I think this is one of them.

    @Annabelle: yes yes you’re absolutely right but it’s nice to stand up on the internet once in awhile

  • Paul Eres

    A lot of things are called a “game” which are deterministic. For instance, ever play that card game called “war” or “I declare war”? There are no choices involved, it’s fairly deterministic, but it’s still a game.

  • Paul Eres

    A lot of things are called a “game” which are deterministic. For instance, ever play that card game called “war” or “I declare war”? There are no choices involved, it’s fairly deterministic, but it’s still a game.

  • Paul Eres

    Sorry, didn’t mean to W-post.

  • jimmythechang

    Seriously, you don’t realize it until you’re older, but the outcome of that game’s established even before you start.

  • RobF

    “However I am unpleased with what many have complained about already, that we’re powerless to do anything not pre-arranged by the author.”

    Spoiler: “This is a game about control”

    It worked. Very well. For me, at least, anyway.

    Quite unnerving the way it gradually reduces your choices, the way the deeper you become involved, the less choice you find yourself with on how to progress.

    I didn’t want to finish it. I’m still unsure as to whether that was because the outcome is evidently set in stone and you just know it’s not going to end well, or that I just wanted to kick back at the bastard thing for making me complicit in everything. The sort of weary resignation that I was going to have to do what the game tells me to to get some sort of closure on the story was incredibly well played out.

    All in all, great stuff. Thanks Terry and Stephen for making 15 or so minutes in the early hours of the morning a whole lot more creepy.

  • jay

    @Bad Sector

    The controls are about slowly turning a corner or turning around not knowing if you’re going to see your husband around the corner or behind you.

    @whoever called me crazy.

    dread was probably overstating it but the feeling of inevitability when you realize Judith is the wife in a Bluebeard style story is effective. It’s like watching characters in a horror story making stupid decisions except you’re pushing the character forward.

    like RobF’s post mentions resignation.

    It’s about the disparity between what you want to do (leave the house, run away) and what the game forces you to do.

    See also: human campaign in warcraft 3, the path.

    I liked that the husband seemed to be sad.

  • Good sector

    WASD is for homosexuals.

    STORY: I’m going to explain it because obviously a lot of you didn’t get it


    The whole story is a metaphor for the rise of USSR in the early 20s. Emily is an obvious stand up for Stalin and Judith is the people struggling against evil forces (the black lake is my favorite, it is a metaphor for Beria’s secret police and at the same time an ominous foreboding for Chernobyl, as a glimpse into (an alternate?) future).
    As for the player, you are noone else than Hitler, and your illegal love affair with Amily can only lead to bad things (i.e 11 million dead mujiks)

  • Loki

    Good sector, no.
    It is a fairy tail.

    (Mooched this info off someone at indiegames, to lazy to find out who the commenter was)

  • http://iterationgames.com jph

    Slightly entertaining,. almost thought provolking, in the end though, left me dissatisfied. :(
    Why not just be machinima? or a story made from plan old words??
    I didn’t feel any ‘loss of control’ when it was essentialy on rails from the start, and therefor never really seemed to have much ‘control’. I tend to agree with AmnEn, to me ‘game’ implies some ‘play’,. not just; do what you must to reach the only end to the story,. I know on some level most games require some form of this mechanic, however a ‘game’ is less about the ends and more about the PROCESS of getting to these ends (save the princess,.etc.) to remove the process and ONLY provide the ends while requireing the drudgery of movements to get there,. is it still a game?? In the old card game the process is the random unfolding and interaction between the human players,.

    and technecly- 11mb? come on! that is needless blot, no need for that! One note sample and a list of notes and timing would have sufficed for the 10mb of nearly identical music stabs,.

  • mr.zippycrow

    This game was fun. I enjoyed discovering the story FPS style. It was creepy. Reminded me of playing Wolfenstein 3D.

    Giving the player options that affect the ending of the story would be fun too, but that would be a different game. You wouldn’t be able to achieve quite the same effect as the strictly linear play chosen.

  • Bor

    One word: Boring.

    Just felt like a pretentious display of “look how deep we are” instead of a game. I can’t even call this a game really, it’s a BARELY interactive short story. Come on kids, get your shit together and stop being pretentious twats.

    Makes me wonder if the indie game scene is going to end up like the indie music scene: “We’re so meaningful and deep. It doesn’t matter that we don’t have any clue as to what we’re doing”?

    If so I fear the worst for gaming.

  • jimmythechang

    so wat should we do then

  • sinoth

    Bor: kill yourself

  • Person what enjoys indie games

    As long as it’s free and interesting, that’s all I care about.

    I agree with other posters on the creep-factor of this game. I was expecting this to be an interactive cheap scare when Judith started ignoring obvious signs that her husband was most likely a psychopath, but instead I got Bluebeard as a first-person pseudoadventure.
    I like it. It was different. Certainly not the sort of game I’d like to play all the time, but a fun little diversion.

    Also, casual troll is caaaasual.

  • Quetz

    To enjoy this game you have to leave your cynicism and preconceptions at the door. Silence and a dark room also highly recommended.

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


    The kind of unnecessarily hateful shit you just wrote is what makes me fear the worst for gaming and humanity in general :)

    Go and look in the mirror and read that post out to yourself, and see if you can look yourself in the eye while you do it.

  • Derek
  • Bor

    Ah, look at the fanboys jumping out to save the day. If you kids can’t take criticism or more to the point: if you can’t take criticism without it being sugar coated then you really need to turn off your computer and hide under your bed. The world’s full of scary monsters that might dare to have an opposing opinion.

    Let me just sum it for you: If it’s indie, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it’s good. Conversely if it’s mainstream-commercial, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it’s bad.

    That’s the $1,000,000 question isn’t it?But at least you’re asking.

    This casual troll is all about being casual. Thanks for noticing.

    I took your advice. Honestly I fell to the floor wept like a baby after reading it aloud. I realized what a horrible monster I am. Thank you for saving my soul. I’M A BELIEVER NOW!!! HALLELUJAH!! Actually, on second thought I still think the game is shit.

    @sinoth (you’re my favorite):
    Aww poor baby. Did I hurt your tender feelings? Are you going to emo-cry now? Maybe if you cut yourself while listening to some my chemical romance you’ll feel better.

  • Iocane

    Spoilers ahead. I enjoyed the “game.” Maskfield’s analysis is spot on.

    When the game gets to the one option it’s a real, “no! Don’t do it!” shouting at the screen moment for me. The story wasn’t all that deep. It could have used one more twist near the end – maybe one that’s less of a cliche than a happily ever after. But, for what it was, the delivery worked for the story. Crappy controls and all.

    I’m glad TIGsource posted this. Maybe this isn’t the greatest game ever made and maybe you have an IQ above 80 and saw the game’s twist coming a mile away but if TIGsource didn’t give this game a shoutout I would not be up at three in the morning playing an experimental “game.” Isn’t that what indie gaming is all about?

    Thanks TIGsource for covering a quirky experimental game. Maybe it wasn’t fun, but it was entertaining.

  • Derek

    Bor, I know you appreciate un-sugary honesty, so here you go:

    You barely had an argument. You made two points: 1. that games should have a certain level of interactivity to be considered a good game, and 2. that the indie games scene was in danger of becoming overly self-important, like the indie music scene. Both points are valid, if slightly shaky, and you may have actually convinced someone if you had spent some time elaborating on them instead of being scurrilous.

    Your reply to your detractors, though, was unequivocably twattish. The “fanboys” defense is played out, it’s a cop-out, and it reflects poorly on you that you have to pretend like you’re being ganged up on because you don’t have any real answers. Seriously, man (or woman) up.

  • Person what enjoys indie games

    @Bor: A bad indie game, IMO? Eternity’s Child. Ijji. This really isn’t a game. More or less an experiment, it seems.

  • Derek

    I think there’s a place for games, indie or not, that simply tell a story, convey a feeling, or a certain atmosphere. So long as there is a reason for the interaction, and it’s not simply “something for the player to do” in between the narrative. In Judith’s case, the mechanics feel thought-out and relevant to the storytelling, and the controls feel very deliberate to create a certain mood. One metric I like to use to valuate something is whether it would be more engaging or interesting in another medium, e.g. as a book, comic, movie, or whatever. In Judith’s case, I don’t think it would have made the transition intact.

    What I DON’T like are games that dilute the interaction with truly non-interactive, meaningless exercises, like tutorials, long dialogues, and cutscenes that are put in place simply as a lazy way of conveying the narrative or preventing the player from becoming frustrated. Judith employs non-interaction with a purpose, however (see Maskfield’s interpretation). It’s also a relatively cohesive and “pure” experience with very little filler, IMHO.

  • Person what enjoys indie games

    What if Bor is a member of an alien species that reproduces via parthogenesis? What do we call Bor then?

  • Corpus

    I’m totally with Bor on this one. I feel like whichever drooling nerdsteins made this game were, like, trying to be clever, or something. Yeah, *whatever*, geeks. Why don’t you go and swot out an essay or two? I’ll just be on the field, playing football, kissing cheerleaders and being awesome. Let me know when you grow a pair, right?

  • Quetz


  • Ilya Chentsov
  • Flamebait

    This “game” really, really sucks.

    The uninteresting mechanics, dull environs, and trite storyline all make for the most jive, time-wasting game experience I’ve had in months. A game’s quality is not inversely proportional to its simplicity.

    I don’t mean to insult the authors, as both have done far better before.

  • mirosurabu

    Interactive story is not same as branching story or high-agency fiction. Judith is clearly interactive – you move around, you have limited sense of exploration and so on.

    @Bad Sector: Haven’t played the game you mention, so you may actually be right that this is not something new.

  • alspal

    I really enjoyed this game, kept me going till the end. Didn’t have to do any dull missions to get use to the game, just went straight in there and kept it interesting!

  • voiceoftheindiemovement

    Games should not be about interactivity or fun. Look at the utterly despicable “mainsteam” games scene.

    All the games there are focused on the lowest common denominator. They are all geared to cater to cheap thrills like “fun” or “interactivity” or “nice graphics.” How far has that got them?

    We must challenge the very meaning of a game, the unspeakable atrocity of a definition brought out by that goddamned mainsteam/commerical gaming (which I hate with every single living breath). If we become anything like them, we will have failed in our mission.

    Personally, I think games that try to only cater to how interactive or fun they can be are the bane of our existence. We should not be making simple platform games with “fun” controls or games that are blatant clones of already existing games. We must completely challenge the meaning of a game and make a game that resembles nothing of what our preconceived notion of a game is, even if it means that some people won’t find it fun, interesting, or even playable.

    That’s what I think the purpose of the indie gaming scene should be. And I am glad to see that more and more people are beginning to make games that fit the definition I just stated right now.

  • voiceoftheindiemovement

    Also if you think that is pretentious, stop projecting. You’re the pretentious ones with a narrow incomplete view of the potential of what a game could be. Whether you like it or not, games are art. And personally it’s about time people started making more games that prove this.

  • Baba Yaga

    I thought it was creepy, atmospheric, and fun. The ending was a let-down, though.

  • voiceoftheyoureadick

    ohhh nooo its a straaawmaaan

  • voiceoftheindiemovement

    voiceoftheyoureadick: Ha, strawman? Is that the best you’ve got? What part of anything I just said is NOT true? Tell me. Don’t just try to dismiss it as rubbish because it’s too much for you to understand or comprehend.

  • jimmythechang

    But why not make fun games AND games that aren’t necessarily fun or interactive? There’s enough room in the world for both.

    My impression is the gaming community cares too much about cultural validation. Why should it make any difference to you whether or not someone considers gaming highbrow? It shouldn’t change how you enjoy it.

  • http://www.paul-jeffries.com Paul Jeffries

    “Personally, I think games that try to only cater to how interactive or fun they can be are the bane of our existence.”

    Yeah, forget disease, famine, war, prejudice and the ultimate futility of our lives in an uncaring universe, it’s games that try to be *fun* that are really the *bane of our existence*. Those things are worse than AIDS.

  • Jman


    Thanks a lot for completely and totally validating Bor’s argument…

  • Fools

    The people who didn’t understand what was going on are morons.

  • TCM

    It’s a strawman, and a pretty obvious one at that.

    But it makes a great point about the tragedy of a lot of “indie” gamers on the internet, weaving around some serious E-peen about how obscure, incomprehensible, or foreign games are, instead of just trying to be fun. When did indie games become indie film? As far as I know, games are about fun. You can be arty all you want, and I’ll praise you for it, but try to be entertaining at the same time.

  • Flamebait

    ^ That’s not fair- I’ve seen plenty of intentionally fun indie films. But yes, the anti-interactivity argument (related to the anti-fun one) has come up many times before, and I find it ridiculous because interactivity is precisely what separates gaming from other media.

    indiemovement’s post was pretty hilarious. But what’s really funny is that if it wasn’t pointed out that the author was being facetious, plenty of people would seriously agree with him.

  • Tardy doggy

    this was pretty cool, but a game this is not! at least admit that…

  • Corpus

    Games are about enjoyment. Fun and enjoyment are not the same thing.

    If games were just about fun, “hardcore gamerz” wouldn’t spend all their time looking down on “casual housewivez.” There’s an element of the masochistic enjoyment of challenge and, in the case of some games (I Wanna Be The Guy, for example), sheer frustration into which fun simply does not factor.

    Don’t try to respond to this by debating the definition of fun, by the way. Everyone will jeer and mock and feel horribly embarrassed for you, and it’ll be a really awful experience. Nobody wants that.

  • Corpus

    That was @TCM, by the way. Also, it’s clearly a game. quitcher rabbittin

  • Maimed Fox

    I consider the game fun because I like the feeling of being immersed in the atmosphere. I consider that fun. Maybe it won’t end up pulling you in but it at least succeeded for me. And, in my eyes, the element that makes it interactive is not necessarily the ability to change the course of the storyline, but simply playing a role. You see the game through the characters’ eyes, control his/her movements etc. You’re still limited by the character’s motives and the environment and stuff but for 10, you are that character.

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

    I think it’s pretty easy to make a fun platformer. I could do it no problem. Tweaking jump mechanics so that they’re fun is child’s play. Creating an emotional story through interaction, however weak the story or the interaction, is something I have a lot of respect for because it’s something I don’t consider to be easy. I couldn’t make a work like Judith, I think.