Next on our list of assigned games is a little art game called “Today I Die”. Visually, it is made up of sprite-based graphics reminiscent of early VGA adventure games. Gameplay consists of mouse dragging items or characters across the screen and placing them on or near other items. Other mechanics include holding items for a certain time and waiting as they change, and dragging items around to avoid contact with other, pursuing objects. Atop the vertical game area is a poem that can also be interacted with. Most of the poem’s text is in white, but at key moments during the game’s progression, certain words change color and may be interacted with. Actions must be performed in the game space to reveal new words that can be used to replace words in the poem of a similar active color; altering the poem changes the game space, which in turn allows the player to find further words to interact with, etc.
The primary aesthetics of the game are sensory pleasure and exploration. Though it is brief and uses simple graphics, the game’s mood, music, and artistic choices create an experience that is quite beautiful, and the poem/game’s progression from bleak and hopeless to bright and optimistic can be touching. The fact that the game has no instructions, icons, or consistent elements beyond manipulating the poem make it a fascinating space to explore, not only for the “literary” content, but also as a puzzle. The game is brief and as far as I can tell totally linear, although at the end there is a choice that does lead to two endings. I found it to be relatively light on “game” elements, but as an interactive, digital interpretation of a poem it’s quite interesting and a great reminder of the potential of interactive art to powerfully convey emotion.