Some games offer you new fun mechanics and ways of playing that can challenge you as a player and be uniquely fun. Other games just want to tell a story with you in the driving seat – games that offer a contemplative experience. The Plan is one such game.
On the surface The Plan is simply a game RTwhere you control a fly with the arrow keys, and steer it through a set path, but what this game really wants you to do, is to think about life’s journey and its ups and downs. The Plan does this in an aesthetically beautiful and simple fashion.
The game wants you to think about life, and this is something Krillbite Studios make very clear already in their description text:
“Every word you read of this useless print is another second of your life.”
Basically this says, life is short, remember to live it – and this is beautifully shown through the short lifespan of a fly. This game being about the journey, and thinking about this journey is accentuated by the simple controls. Controlling the fly with your arrow keys is simple and easy, there are in other words no complicated control mechanics to get in your way, and you are therefore left to focus solely on what is happening to the fly and its surrounding environments.
The game is short – it will take you about five minutes to “complete” – which again goes nicely with the main point concerning time. Now let me take you through the journey.
You start at the bottom of a forrest and instantly feel yourself immersed in a gorgeously simple world with a great sound-scape underlining it. As the game is called “The Plan”, you feel as though, despite the simple controls, there must be some goal to this game – what is the plan? Well, I guess we make plans all the time in life, set goals, immediate and ambitious ones. The road to achieving such goals can be winding and challenging at times. This is exactly what we see in The Plan, as our fly has to wind itself through the forrest – it isn’t complicated, but it isn’t straight forward either. Obstacles may get in your way as you travel, in the game this is represented by falling leaves that can momentarily obstruct our little fly, but then we have a plan and push on. Once in a while a gush of wind hits you. This steers you off course, but again, this is merely a short setback.
I am currently just describing what happens within the first minute or so in the game, but as should be evident by now, this all works quite neatly as a metaphor of our human lives. And so, we are basically interpreting life’s journey on the fly, as we progress through the game.
The message at this point is clear, as we journey there may be setbacks, and no plan is fool proof. Most notably this is shown as we fly into a spiders web! Now, at this point in the game I expected a spider to come and eat the fly. But this is not one of those games – it is all about us. I waited but nothing happened, which resulted in me trying to break lose of this web that has entangled the fly. This is in fact the greatest challenge we will face in the game, and the way I see it, the greatest challenge we face in life. We get caught up in so many obligations and responsibilities that we might actually forget to live our lives, to pursue that plan that we once had. The fly break free of the web. This doesn’t mean you should neglect all responsibilities or the people who are around you – both are important. It is about gaining perspective, prioritising, and remembering to dream. And so, our fly keeps flying, but we aren’t done thinking yet.
You will notice, as you travel further and further, reach the tree tops and continue upwards, that the fly is becoming increasingly small in this constantly growing world around us. To me, this is another metaphor. We live in a world that is constantly expanding both population wise, and knowledge wise. Not only are you but one of 7 bilion people on this planet, but you also live in a world where we know our sun is but one of an estimated 100 thousand million stars, in the Milky Way alone. It suddenly becomes very easy to feel small, maybe even insignificant, in such a magnanimous perspective. Our existence of the planet Earth really is puny. This is a fact. All you can do with such facts are accept them. Accept that we as biological beings only have this one chance at life, and therefore, returning to an earlier point, we must remember to live it.
This point is driven home as the game concludes. Our fly keeps travelling upwards. It is very small by now, and there are stars all around it. We see a beam of light coming from an unknown origin up above us. The music becomes more powerful and promises conclusion, maybe even salvation. This feeling continues for a few seconds, as we edge increasingly closer to the source of this light. But then, we begin to hear a faint buzzing noise, not to be mistaken with the one the fly makes.
There is the edge of the light-source, and just over that edge, some zigzag lines. It’s a light-bulb… We can no longer control the fly, it is out of our hands. It keeps travelling up, up, up, until it hits the light-bulb and the game ends.
You are asked to write a message at the end. Who knows why. Maybe it’s a good way to get your immediate reaction out. I wrote, “Thank You”.
I will admit I am quite enthusiastic about this game. I love the way it can say so much, through such simple means. The Plan is a lovely example of how games can do more than just entertain and provide a platform for shooting things, or competing. This is the video game equivalent to a short story or short film. Short, obviously, but powerful in content and message. It is encouraging for the game media that these games exist – it shows diversity and potential.
In five minutes this game says more about life, than most games do through 50+ hours of game-play.
Do yourself a favour and try the game. It only takes you five minutes to play. Five minutes well spent in my opinion. You can download it for free here.