Developer: The Working Parts Publisher: The Working Parts Music: The Working Parts Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, Android, iOS Released: 2014 Genre: Horror, Adventure
The game starts off with you being . a lonely frog floating on a little piece of driftwood. The water is full of branches and debris almost as if the aftermath of a tsunami or natural disaster. As you do what frogs do, jump in the water and swim around. Using small air bubbles that float up to get oxygen, allowing you to swim around for an indefinite amount of time. Out of nowhere you hear sounds coming from the depths calling you…
This is where your story beings, as you dive further and further down; you start to encounter other frogs who are barely breathing but also something more devious. A weird and scary jelly moose(A mix between a jellyfish and a moose). You push on down trying to save your frog friends while also trying to survive the vicious attacks from the jelly moose. All while trying to figure out, “why are my frog buddies coming up from below?”
They Breath focuses heavily on its narrative. The whole point of the game is to push on and try to figure out why things are like they are. It puts you in to a 2D perspective and slowly pans the camera down section after section as you venture. . In each section you are met by a threat, jelly moose, having to save a frog buddy or both at the same time. But it also tells the story of what happened through its background image, hand feeding the story as you go.
The game title: They Breath tells us the gist of the game right away. Oxygen is a big part of this experience. mall little air bubbles pop up from the bottom of your 2D screen throughout the experience. There isn’t an abundance of them, every bubble you consume is one less for your frog buddies who need it to survive as well. However the jelly moose need them too and will try to get them. The game quickly turns into a melee of trying to survive by avoiding drowning, while also forcing you to make the choice should I try to save my buddies?
The music score for they breath is fantastic, offering up an eerie vibe as you dive into the darkness. This is not however the part that impressed me the most while playing this experience. What impressed me was the games excellent use of sound effects. Being drawn in by the sounds coming from the depths, being able to tell right away that it is something dark and mysterious that you need to find. Getting flash hints every now and then just makes you want to continue even though the atmosphere grows darker, damper and scarier.
I was especially taken aback by the sound of the jelly moose drowning as they did not get the oxygen they needed. The effects made me feel bad for them although I knew I had to survive. To me it is one of the things that makes the mechanic of the air bubbles feel the way they do. . Because every time you hear a jelly moose go from drowning too quiet you realize that oxygen is a rare and precious thing.
Overall the game brings a terrifying, mysterious but also satisfying experience. The game tells its story and narrative in a short and sweet way (taking only 20 minutes to complete) and never leaves anything untold. The game play fits the story perfectly and truly makes you feel like the things you are doing makes sense. Although not out right forcing you to make decisions it definitely asks you to make them. Without spoiling too much, in the end the choices you made directly or indirectly made play a part in how things turn out. The game’s atmosphere was captivating thanks to both beautiful music score and horrifyingly great SFX. Building a sense of awe and wonder while also keeping the horror around something that most people have experienced at one point or another, the dark depths of water.
Reviewed by William Haumann @William_Haumann on January 15th 2020
Executive Producer and Announcer I’m a Game Design graduate who loves big and small creative experiences. I love to dive into the feelings of games as well as artistic elements that tell a compelling story. I don’t really have a favourite genre of game however I don’t really like horror games. Some of my favourite games of all time are: Detroit Become Human, Overwatch and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, I usually play PC, Nintendo Switch or PS4 and on the off occasion will test out some Android mobile games. You’ll usually find me announcing and producing the live show each week as well as out and about the local Brisbane Game Development scene.