Sawbuck Gamer

Thanks For Playing

(Un)Jump Around

Thanks For Playing makes you live a perfect life in reverse.

By Matt Kodner • December 12, 2012

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap ($10 or less) game.

Like many high school juniors before me, I went through a Kurt Vonnegut phase. A bittersweet scene from Slaughterhouse-Five still sticks with me, where hero Billy Pilgrim watches a wartime newsreel play out in reverse. Through his eyes, wounded American soldiers in scrappy bomber planes take off from Europe, and fly back to America, taking magically reassembled bombs into their hulls and fixing any destruction along the way. Starting from end to beginning, Thanks For Playing tugs at those same heartstrings, with varying degrees of success.

In the name of Science, you control a backward-jogging test-subject (un)navigating—to use the game’s particular syntax—a futuristic laboratory. You begin with a perfect score of 2030 points, and you must do everything in your power to bring that number down to zero without causing a paradox in the time stream. Previously collected crystals rematerialize once you (un)pass the point where you originally scooped them up, and similarly, mechanical spiders resurrect once you jump from what was their final resting place.

While positioned as a platformer in reverse, the game is more of a spatial puzzle. Formerly collapsed platforms rebuild themselves, but only as you find them haphazardly through trial and error. There is a hard-to-grasp logic to the order in which crystals must be (un)collected, and the trial-and-error experimentation is exciting at first, but it becomes tedious. Unlike Billy’s tender vision of a world made better when played the other way around, there are no compelling stakes in Thanks For Playing beyond its pesky paradoxes. What’s missing is an emotional story to (un)tell.

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140 Responses to “(Un)Jump Around”

  1. Xtracurlyfries says:

    Sucks this.

  2. Aaron Riccio says:

    So whoever comments LAST gets cancerAIDS? Hm. I’d better hope someone else comments after me.

  3. Matthew McGrath says:

    First!  Oh, no…

  4. bting140 says: