Where We Remain

By: Paul Eres

On: May 15th, 2010

Where We Remain was released back in January by TwoFoldSecret. From the image, older readers such as myself will first spot Zelda 1 references — the trees (their shape and color) and the statues, which look like Armos statue edits; even the caves are just black squares. The game is also about non-linear exploration, with saving a girl as the goal given to the player. Some of the items are similar too: a map, a compass, a raft, and so on. Also similar is the idea of lots of abilities for which you have to discover the use for through experimentation.

But the game itself is otherwise distinct; there are multiple endings, and the map is procedurally generated. Instead of enemies that kill you and a life bar of hearts, there is a flower and whirlwind-like monster system, with many of the abilities revolving around avoiding those monsters. There are also notes scattered around, especially in expert mode, which tell the background story of the game in a way that you can take or leave.

I liked that the game was non-linear and that you had to proceed through experimentation, this goes against the modern heavy tutorial explain everything trend, but even in 1986, with Zelda 1, players weren’t used to that. Nintendo had to start up its phone call help line and ‘game counselors’ system and man it with 200 people (more during the holidays) just for Zelda 1; it was later extended to other games besides Zelda 1, but it really did begin just for that game. Today we have FAQs of course (which people know they shouldn’t use but usually can’t resist the temptation to).

There are a couple of things I didn’t like and would have done differently of course — caves can be completed simply by holding up for long enough (enemies you touch die and expel you from their cave), and the world being too procedural also meant it felt like the places being explored weren’t as real as if hand-crafted, and I felt that linking to a spoiler-filled FAQ right on the game’s page itself may be a bad idea, but they’re minor relatively; overall I loved the experience, it was too short, even after getting all the endings, but this is one of the few games that felt to me like I unconsciously feel videogames “should” feel like: a focus on the game world, and on the player’s experimental discovery of how the game elements work. I especially liked that it seemed as if not all abilities and items are always available in any given game, leading to the feeling that if you play it again one day you may occasionally find something new somewhere.

Breaking my own advice on not linking to FAQs in obvious places, this playthrough by Ortoslon shows the normal ending, but as always, don’t watch unless you’re stuck; I include it here only for those who would not play the game otherwise (videos can make people want to play a game more than anything else):

  • Anonymous

    oh? the japanese haven’t made a non-linear zeldalike game since zelda 1 :)

  • rinkuhero

    addendum: for those who finished the game and want to read more about it, i found this post informative:


  • Louis F.

    This is one of my favorite browser games this year, I'm glad to finally see it mentioned here.

  • merkwuerdigich

    Japanese are better at making this kind of games.

  • Atwood

    I love the reactionary posting to TIGSource we have going on since Podunkian called out Derek. Two articles in a row. Nice! This will be a news site yet!

    “Oh yeah? I only post about darling games and zero audience crap that no one cares about like “Jams”? Well, hmph! There!”

    I'm trying to think of a fruitier name for minor, inconsequential gatherings of indie developers.. but I think you've nailed it.

  • rinkuhero

    if i wanted to be reactionary to podunk (who's a friend of mine, as an aside) i'd have reviewed games that weren't reviewed by timw's blog 4 months ago, and instead review some of the xblig games on my to-review list (since timw has no access to an xbox, that'd be one area where we could cover games he can't)

  • http://moonloop.vg Eclipse

    I don't really know what you're talking about, Paul always do a review when he plays something worth mentioning…

  • someone

    Pod called out Derek. He'd never call out RinkuHero since they talk to each other on a daily basis on IRC.

    Before you ride someone's nuts, make sure they actually are going to agree with what you say. Nice try though.

  • twofortea

    Damned if you do, damned if you don't eh?

  • http://www.derekyu.com Derek Yu

    Podunkian called me out for posting news that's a week old and Puzzle Bots came out a week ago. That said, I try to consider everyone's criticism, even Podunkian's.

    (Also, there can't be a more fruity thing to do than use the word “fruitier”.)

  • joehonkie

    A little bit of roguelike in there too, I guess.

    I just beat it for the first time and it's pretty neat for a little time waster. Easy to just get straight up murdered before you have all items, but that's how most of the roguelikes I love work anyways.

  • Super Joe

    i don't know what you nancies got yer pantaloons in a twist about, but peep this http://www.pigscene.com/?p=442

  • http://shigi.wordpress.com Laura

    I think my favorite thing about this game was that despite the retro graphics and sound, it still managed to captivate me enough that I felt nervous the whole time I was outside of the caves. Each time I heard that “ddddooooooosshhhhh” sound that signals the grey winged creature that comes to attack you, my heart would start beating really quickly, haha…

  • rinkuhero

    don't worry super joe, soon i'll review a game that you said ruled (which podunk called the most japanese game)

  • alastair_jack


  • rinkuhero

    the whirlwinds are pretty scary, yeah — i think part of it is how loud they sound relative to everything else

  • Lailoken

    I really like the look of them too. Just a disembodied flurry of wings and eyes. Something exceptionally frightening about that.

  • Bearfighter

    I like and hate simultaneously the fact that I can't save (unless you can?)

  • C.A. Sinclair

    Now that was a lot of fun. Atmosphere reminded me of Shadow Of The Colossus. Coulda without the hamfisted faux-artsy writing though.

  • rinkuhero

    the game takes 5-10 minutes, why the flock would you need a save feature :D

  • rinkuhero

    i actually thought the writing was quite good — maybe you just aren't used to good writing? the glasses which revealed the hidden text on the letters was even better.

  • Bearfighter

    Because I suck, that's why.

  • rinkuhero

    i think getting better is a lot more fun than cheating with saving for such a short game — i generally think saving should be used only as a way to leave a game and return to it later when it's long, not as a way to get past a difficult part by saving and reloading repeatedly until you finally do it (others may differ here, but that'd take all the fun out of a game for me)

  • merkwuerdigich

    There's no need to remind everyone about your bad taste Rinkuhero.

  • C.A. Sinclair

    Yeah, I guess the high quality of the writing was a bit of a culture shock for me, considering I think of newspaper comic strips as the apex of modern literature, followed closely by the backs of milk cartons.

  • rinkuhero

    i still think you're being ridiculous — if you don't like the writing, at least say why, instead of trolling. criticism of a game only makes sense if someone knows what you mean by your criticism; calling something bad without giving reasons why you think so is rude, useless to the developer, and lazy.

  • Bearfighter

    I agree with you but I also think you're being an ass. There's no need to personally insult people who don't share your opinions.

    PS Every time I try to reply to you I accidentally click the “like” button instead. Since there's no way to unlike a comment I'll just tell you to mentally subtract two likes instead.

  • rinkuhero

    @Bearfighter (can't reply to you since someone seems to have limited comment thread depth to 4): oh, i definitely agree, but it's intentional: he decided to unfairly troll this game, so i decided to unfairly troll him in return. it's only just.

  • C.A. Sinclair

    I really wish I could delete my original comment. I didn't even mean to come off as hostile as I did.

    Anyway, I suppose the writing is kinda decent by game standards and it certainly didn't detract from the experience for me because I actually liked the story (and the gameplay too but that's not what we're discussing here). I don't think you need to be a good writer to tell a good story. I'm a sci-fi geek, go figure.

    I'm also kind of ashamed that I can't actually provide any constructive criticism on the writing because I don't think there's anything “universally” wrong with it. It was just something about it that rubbed me the wrong way but I couldn't tell you what it was. It's like trying to explain why you don't like a certain food.

  • bombboy

    By the same logic you'd be ashamed for, say, not liking olives or whatever. Drop the shame, bro. Anyone who thought you were being a dick will probably have reconsidered after your pleasant humble post (that I'm replying to right now) anyway O:

  • Consumatopia

    Speaking for me personally, the mechanics of the game probably affected the way I viewed the writing. Most of the text is encountered under one of two circumstances: either you're hoping a monster doesn't eat you while you read it, or you were expecting to find a powerup or key only to find a block of text that you probably already read.

  • rinkuhero

    no problem, i overreacted too, it's just that it gets tiring to see any game with text that attempts to take itself seriously get attacked for the attempt, and not given much credit for the things it does right; it's become a bit of a trend to say that any game with text has bad writing just because it is a game

    also, it wouldn't really work to have the text written in plain and simple sci-fi type writing style because it'd lose the feel of a love letter — as it is, it's written as love letters are often written, and i think it does a good job of feeling like actual love letters

  • rinkuhero

    the difference with olives is usually that someone just says they don't like olives; it's more similar to going to someone's house, and having them prepare you a dinner that includes olives, and telling them that the food is inedible and disgusting because it has olives in it. it's rude to do that since they went through all that work of making the food for you.

  • rinkuhero

    yeah, i've mixed thoughts about whether it was a good idea not to pause the rest of the game while the player is reading. i think it can add a bit to the immersion but at the cost of making the text less likely to be read due to all the dangers.

    in any case, the text (especially the purple text after you get the glasses) is essential to finding the third (and hardest to find) ending, so it's pretty important to read it if you're a completionist and want to solve the game yourself rather than using a faq

  • Hobocannibal

    I was curious about the zelda-like tag only being on one post and thought i'd check this out, brilliant game, got two endings so far, the normal one after finding the girl and the one for 'killing' the girl (which i realised after opening the console and seeing “replacing girl in other cave with twin” there.

    Will see if one of the spirits is killable (preferably boralas :D). Had one annoying bug near the end of a playthrough though, i got 'spirit ejected' whilst outside a cave and lost all control because of it. See this picture. http://i51.tinypic.com/34smihy

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