If someone tells you to not touch something, chances are that your brain is now screaming at you, yelling, for you to touch the thing in question. It doesn’t matter what the person said, all you can do is focus on the thing. Basic reverse psychology aside, nothing says “press me” like a massive, shiny red button sat on a desk. This button is especially pressable since the game it’s featured in is called “Please, Don’t Touch Anything”.
The premise is simple, you’re in a booth. Your co-worker then stands up to go to the bathroom. Leaving you in charge of a button, and a screen with a city on it. Naturally you press the button. This unfortunately triggers the city to become dust in an instant. Guess you shouldn’t have pressed it. Thankfully however, there’s a handy ‘reset’ lever that undoes your abhorrent act.
As a minimalistic puzzle game, each of the twenty-five endings is harder to achieve than the last. By using your brains, and what’s available inside the booth, (along with some fairly complex maths) every successful ending puts you closer to solving exactly what on earth is happening. Please, Don’t Touch Anything is ominous more than anything. It’s not a horror game by any means, but with pentagrams, cameras that watch you, and endings that chill your blood – it’s close.
No context is given as to why there’s a killswitch that fires a nuclear warhead at the city on the screen, but hints are littered everywhere. For a game that gives no story, a ton of information is gifted to the player through the puzzles themselves. Like the mysterious eye that causes the game to shut down if activated, or the way that everything goes negative if a certain code is correctly punched in.
Of course, there’s the obvious ending too. Assuming you manage to resist pushing the red button at all for a minute, then you get just one of the “endings” this game has. The more than you experiment with the button, the more interesting everything becomes. Pressing the button continuously without activating anything else nets you a dunce award, but before this, an array of mysterious tools appear upon the face of the once empty desk. By the final few presses, a hammer, and screwdriver are available. These tools allow the player to combine new ways of getting toward the dark truth.
Despite a lack of voiceover, interaction, or speech, the game manages to change tone using music alone. The soundtrack moves through various phases as the player presses buttons, inputs numbers, and codes. Each track is more ambient than the last, with some ending tracks being distinctly sombre, even unnerving, in parts. As the main theme jingles happily in the background, you’re given the choice to either press the button or wait. All twenty-five endings have their own unique song, which is a wonderful touch of poliosh to an already shining title.
Please Don’t Touch Anything is an unforgiving, tricky, and downright evil, puzzle game that gives the player very little to work with. These features would normally be drawbacks, but because of the precise execution that the game uses to its advantage, everything is wonderfully cryptic.
Please, Don’t Touch Anything – 86/100
Developer – Four Quarters
Publisher – Escalation Studios
Genre – Indie, Puzzle, Pixel Graphics, 2D
Release date – 26th March 2015
Website – www.escalation.com
Written by Matt Dawson