PEGBRJE: Please Follow and Un Pas Fragile
Experiences for the Masses
Please Follow is an atmospheric horror game made by somewhat and serves as a spiritual successor to please, the small horror title that was featured in the bundle earlier. This makes it the only game ‘series’ within the bundle that I believe that I have gotten to play in order which feels weird after playing so many out of order titles. I digress. This time, instead of being a maintenance worker, players are an unknown individual presumed to be a soldier within the trenches of a war, only to find a bizarre tunnel leading deeper into the earth. As a curious buffoon, we enter.
Please Follow differs from its predecessor in the simplistic way that players are not being ‘told’ what to do. We are no longer attempting to repair something, but instead explore a strange occurrence. This alters the atmospheric tension that players receive, as instead of searching an area that they become familiar with they are instead searching an unknown location for a solution. This leads to players attempting to solve bizarre and unsettling puzzles involving weird slugs, bizarre liquids, and terrifying visions; and that’s the entirety of the loop. There is no return like in please, only moving forward to discovery.
As I mentioned, it’s this shift in ‘goal’ that completely alters the fear that players receive. In please, it was a growing sense of unease at the unknowing willingness that the player was to complete these tasks while given small hints at a sinister and dark truth that never gets told outright. In Please Follow, however, players have absolutely no idea what they are getting themselves into; there is no search for the truth of the surrounding, no sinister possibility. Instead, it’s the fear of the complete unknown, that players are blinding wandering into a location that they do not belong and should not be. The world continually morphs upon every puzzle solution into something more foreign to our world, revealing bizarre and unnerving imagery that players cannot help but continue to witness. Everything screams that players should turn back and no longer be within this realm, that they are making a mistake for venturing into this tunnel, yet we continue forward to find out just what could be so bad.
I have a few ideas on what the ending could mean or the possible metaphors laced within, but I’ll hold on to those for now. Don’t wanna spoil, y’know.
Please Follow looks just like please did before it, creating an uncomfortable atmosphere within a PS1 era graphical style with audio that worms into one’s mind. It features no true jump scares, except for that one time where I scared myself since an action that previous did nothing seemed to suddenly work. I’m scared easily. Where please made you scared due to your actions having unknowing effects on the world, Please Follow explores what would happen if your actions only affected yourself and your own mind. If this is something you’d like to be scared of for 20 minutes, then try it out.
Un Pas Fragile (translates to ‘A Delicate Step’) is a visual narrative experience made by DocGeraud, a French indie developer with quite the large library of titles. This title won Best Student Game at Independent Games Festival 2017 with an honorable mention in Visual Arts, and has players follow a frog named Camille. She wishes to become a ballet dancer, and players will help her go through her daily routines in order to help achieve that goal.
Un Pas Fragile has players perform simple tasks involving dragging or clicking on objects to have Camille interact with them or have them interact with Camille. These tasks can include helping her with breakfast, helping her choose a seat on the bus, holding an umbrella up for her and performing ballet moves. Inputs can be as simple as a single click, or as varied as dragging her across the screen or along certain paths at a specific rhythm, but they aren’t meant to be difficult. No, the focus is not on the game interactions between the player and the game, but more the story that Camille experiences and the interaction between her and the world itself.
See, Un Pas Fragile tells the tale of a cute frog just trying her best to become a ballet dancer starting at a young age. She struggles with bullies, making friends, and even making breakfast. She’s unsure of herself, and it’s up to the player to input the proper actions shown on screen in order to help her through each situation she shows up into, but not in the sense that the player is some divine being. No, players are must just helping some situations move forward, with everything else simply being a re-enactment of what Camille would have done anyway.
Did I mention there are no words in this tale?
Un Pas Fragile doesn’t utilize a single line of dialogue to tell players of Camille’s story, instead using expressions and scenarios to paint the narrative picture. I didn’t need anyone stating that she was struggling with friend making, I could see the loneliness on her face when she sat on the bus alone, or when the mean kids snickered at her. Her reluctance some days to go to practice because she’s tired, or because she just may not have the motivation to do so. It’s all given to players in an adorably soft aesthetic reminiscent of a penciled drawing one may have found in notebooks back in school, cleaned up and put on display for all to see.
I don’t have much else to say for Un Pas Fragile as it’s able to convey the entire message within a 10 minute period. It’s soft, it’s cute, and it’s easily able to be played by many ranging from children to video game wary elders. Camille’s adventure is just so pure and adorable that I couldn’t help but cheer for her the entire way. I didn’t think I’d get emotionally attached to a ballet frog, yet here I am.
If you want more on Un Pas Fragile, there’s actually a fantastic dissection done by Jahanzeb Khan that goes over a lot of neat things I didn’t touch on here. Link for that is below!
How Videogames Can Make Children’s Stories Come Alive
Games like Un Pas Fragile provide an effective medium to deliver timeless narratives in an interactive way.
In the official timeline, a lone surviving soldier ventures into the tunnels dug by the opposing forces. Deep inside…