Don't Look Back

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Title screen.

Don't Look Back is a platformer developed and published by Terry Cavanagh as a browser game on 2009-03-09. It was later ported to several other platforms. The game was originally programmed in Flash. The minimalist design reminded me of Seiklus, and the level design obviously served as inspiration for VVVVVV. Apple originally rejected the iOS port because Cavanagh referred to their in-app purchasing system as "non-sense."

The game begins with the player's character looking down at a gravestone, then the player is encouraged to journey over treacherous chasms into a dark cave and find the specter of their lost love. As the player returns any attempt to look back at the ghost causes it to vanish. The player must return to the surface along an alternate route. The story is based on the ancient Greek legend, Orpheus and Eurydice.

Personal

I found the game while looking for other games made by Terry Cavanagh as I adored VVVVVV. I beat it on 2022-10-24. I was also shocked to learn that reviewers complained that it was too hard, as I found it to be a little too easy.

Review

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4 4 4 3 3

Best Version: Windows

— This section contains spoilers! —

Good

  • The game has nice atmosphere. I like the rain, the creepy lighting in the cave, the ambient music, etc.
  • The don't-look-back mechanic is interesting.
  • Despite being such a short game, it still manages to have a miniboss and a proper boss.
  • I like the ending, and I'm kind of curious if it changes if you can complete the game without dying.

Bad

  • The control of your character feels pretty bad. I wish more effort was put into making the movement more fluid.
  • Although it's meant to be minimalist pixel art, the graphics are still very primitive. Particularly, the character animation is pretty bad and lacks climbing animation.
  • The game is too short and too many of the rooms are empty.
  • It doesn't feel like the don't look back mechanic was explored fully. One screen kind of tricks you into looking back, but that's about it. I'm reminded of some of the levels in Tower of Heaven which use their arbitrary mechanics more.
  • The touch screen controls of the mobile ports are sketchy, though this is the fault of the hardware.

Ugly

  • Nothing.

Media

Screenshots

Videos

Longplay - Browser.
Longplay - iOS.

Representation

Bechdel test?FailThe female character never speaks.
Strong female character?FailThe sole female character just follows the man.
Strong non-white character?FailNo characters have a clear race.
Queer character?FailThere are no queer characters.

Links

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