Ben Burbank's And Just Like That I Was Free is a game created for Ludum Dare 21 (note: if you want to kill an entire day, follow that link and play almost 600 games created in three days) that isn't so much a game as it is a story of a personal struggle. It has enough game elements to keep forward momentum, but its main goal is something far more inward-looking.
Taking on the role of man-with-hat, you need to run around a collapsing world as an unreliable narrator goads you into doing all types of different nonsense. As you move through the game, you quickly begin to realize that game creator Ben Burbank's own fears and struggles to program and create the game in three days are shining through the design.
It starts simple enough: You walk out to a lovely patch of flowers and start jumping around. Just as quickly, the game embraces the need to screw with you and it does. Things start collapsing, the world starts changing and this micro-poem begins to turn into a game, with platforms and colored blocks obstructing your way.
The narrator keeps you informed of what you're doing wrong, repeatedly telling you to go back, or to move along a safe path that inevitably leads to freedom. He's wrong, of course; as anyone who has dealt with an unreliable narrator can attest, the best thing to do is the opposite of what they tell you.
And Just Like That I Was Free isn't just a story with a quirky narrator, though. It's the story of a designer who is unsure of his future, but knows that the easiest, trusted way isn't always the best option. There's a lesson here in following your intuition, going where you need to go, not where you should.
As a game, it's a nicely executed platformer and you'll have your fair share of troubles getting through it at times, but it's not overly complicated. It's mostly about the experience, about making the decision to try something new, instead of going with the same old tricks. It'll only take a few minutes of your time and you'll most likely walk away in a better mood than when you started.
Play it here.
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