There is no review, for there is no game
Oh, didn’t see you there, reader! Why are you here? There is no game, so there won’t be a review. You understand, right? We’re game reviewers, so we only review games, not non-games, half-finished games, forgotten programs, etc. Just games. And since there’s no game…
…why are you still here? Why are you still reading these words? I’m only typing this out right now to tell you that there isn’t a game. I simply cannot review what isn’t there. It’s not possible. Don’t worry, you can still go watch TV, read a book, or — since you’re clearly a gamer — play an actual game, but there’s no game here, so there’s no review to read.
You’re still here, aren’t you?
Okay, FINE. Even though — and I cannot stress this enough — there is no game, I’ll write a review for you. On a non-game. Just this once. You’re so persistent! Are you happy now? Are you? Huh?
So begins our review — in a similar fashion to the beginning of There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension. Developed and published by Draw Me a Pixel, There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension builds upon the success of There Is No Game: Jam Edition 2015. Available on Steam for a friendly price of $12.99, There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension has a whole lot of games packed into an immensely creative experience that is sure to please anyone who enjoys thinking outside the box and being rewarded for poking around in all the wrong places.
There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension opens up on the narrator, Game, adamantly insisting that there is no game here whatsoever. You, the user, are pretty sure there’s a game around here somewhere, so you do what comes naturally — click things until something happens. It’s during this first level of discovery that players come to understand that nothing about this experience is going to be straightforward, and thinking outside the box is going to become the norm.
As players progress through this experience that is definitely not a game, something troublesome happens: a glitch appears. Going by the name “Mr. Glitch,” this evil bug is set on wanton destruction of the human race and will stop at nothing to see his dastardly dreams come true. Tailing him inevitably leads to being trapped in other actual games, and it’s up to you (with some mild assistance from Game) to keep following Mr. Glitch and hopefully put a stop to his plans.
Players take on the role as themselves in their most inquisitive state. There’s no character or role barrier placed in front of the player — you are you, and you’re pretty sure there’s a game in here somewhere despite Game’s insistence, so clicking around on random things is bound to yield some sort of progression. This can mean literally anything: from grabbing the scissors from a rock-paper-scissors game to cut a rope to reveal a passageway to grabbing items from free2play ads that pop-up in the middle of one of the games, there’s always something new and fresh to keep players on their toes as they journey through a compelling narrative about game development.
Each level in There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension felt incredibly unique and showed insane levels of creativity from the developer. Even though two levels are essentially the same, one is a “premium” version, while the other is a “free2play” version, dramatically changing up the mechanics and making the game feel different even though they were the same game. They all had great music, iconic graphics, and exploratory gameplay woven together through a surprisingly deep narrative about love, loss, and the struggle of making a game.
Some levels are presented in such a way that it actually takes a second to recognize possible gameplay; for example, at one point one of the characters breaks out into a sad song about heartbreak through coding lingo in what I thought was an homage to Portal’s Still Alive. As I sat there, listening, I suddenly realized I could interact with the assets on screen to progress and in fact needed the lyrics to solve the puzzle. An insanely creative puzzle in an already insanely creative game, everything just kept getting better and better as time went on, building upon itself in a delightfully playful but deliberate manner.
In this piss-poor attempt to not give away too many solutions to puzzles in this review of a non-game, I’d like to talk more about how I felt throughout the experience. There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension’s greatest strength is certainly its creative puzzles, but a strong second place is its writing. The cheekiness of the characters is so charming that you’re immediately taken by their personalities. Game’s stubborn insistence to stop clicking around invites players to do the exact opposite in some childlike reverse-psychology. I felt like a mischievous kid fully knowing I’m doing something naughty yet gleefully doing it anyway. Game’s initial exasperation followed by his ultimate acceptance of this chaotic nature shows only part of his character development and is a mirrored reflection of our own.
More on that — you, the player, actually have character development in There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension! Without getting too deep into spoilers, I’ll just say that I went from poking around trying to solve puzzles and getting a kick out of rustling Game’s jimmies to getting emotionally invested with Game and those he held dear and trying to save the world in the meantime. It gets surprisingly deep surprisingly fast, and I honestly never wanted There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension to end.
Of course, there are some minor things that I’m afraid I can’t omit. For one, There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension’s hint system seemed a little off. There were times when it was exceedingly evident what was supposed to happen next, but Game would kinda spell it out anyway, which detracted a little from the feeling of getting to solve it yourself. Then of course, there were puzzles that were legitimately difficult to solve where Game would stay mum for whatever reason. Luckily, there are hints you can unlock similar to Professor Layton’s setup with progressively more helpful hints, but it felt odd that Game was providing assistance on easy stuff that players could figure out on their own anyway.
As is the nature of There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension, there’s practically no replay value whatsoever unless you plan on speedrunning, which I know is a point of contention for some players. However, I’d still like to encourage as many people as possible to play this non-game, as it’s a relatable narrative that sheds a little light on the world of game development wrapped up in an extremely satisfying experience. Bonus points: you’ll feel pretty smart after all this thinking outside the box, so it’s safe to say your IQ score might even increase a few points (note: not guaranteed, but it’d be pretty neat if true).
There — I’ve finished my review of a non-game. But, you know what reader? It was actually a game after all. A really good game. A game with a compelling narrative, creative puzzles, delightful mechanics, and witty writing that kept me invested from start to finish. I really didn’t want this non-game to end, and I bet that you won’t either. Be sure to pick up There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension as soon as you can — I can’t promise you there will be a game, but I can promise you’ll absolutely enjoy the experience.
Final Verdict: 4.5/5
Available on: PC (reviewed); Publisher: Draw Me A Pixel; Developer: Draw Me A Pixel; Players: 1; Released: August 6, 2020; MSRP: $12.99
Editor’s note: This review is based on a review copy of There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension provided by the publisher.