Australian developer Andy Sum emailed me about his Ludum Dare 26 competition entry, i need to lie down, and I am happy to give this excellent game some attention. Though I’ve enjoyed each playthrough, I wouldn’t exactly say the game is “fun”. The game is designed to create a certain atmosphere and to make you uncomfortable. The fact that it succeeds at this while also being an enjoyable play is remarkable.
i need to lie down could be thought of as an abstract expressionist horror game. You also wouldn’t be far off if you called it an anxiety simulator. The controls and the core concept are simple: Use the arrow keys to move about and avoid the scribbly black shapes while collecting the pink ones dropped by a golden circle. The black shapes will begin to adhere to one another and coalesce into one giant monstrosity. If you get close to it, your vision darkens and your heart begins to pound, which is a good approximation of a panic attack. The large black mass exerts a gravitational pull on you, and if you get too close you will be unable to escape it pulsing, writhing darkness. The longer you survive, the more the entire screen will throb and blur. Collecting pink shapes will slow things back down just a bit, but it’s frankly inevitable that you will be swallowed by the darkness sooner or later.
Andy Sum told me that he made the game with a particular narrative in mind, and based it on some of his own personal experiences. But it is up to the player to provide their own interpretation, and assign their own meanings to the shapes. To me, the pink shapes seem to represent various artistic pursuits (you can glimpse a musical note as the shapes pulse and change, for instance) which can help stave off the anxiety caused by dealing with all the fears and uncertainties of daily life. What does it mean to you?
i need to lie down is a free download for Windows, but it works fine in Wine 1.5.