Game Review: Don’t Look Back

Posted on Mar 06, 2009 under Game Reviews, PC Games | 10 Comments

Don’t Look Back is a new game on Kongregate based on the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. This Greek myth tells the story of the lovers Orpheus and Eurydice, who are tragically parted when Eurydice dies. Unable to live without her, Orpheus journeys to Hades to bring back his lost love. Hades, the god of the underworld, and his wife Persephone are so moved by Orpheus’ love and his musical gifts, that they agree to let Eurydice follow him out of the underworld… on one condition. He can’t turn around and look at Eurydice until they leave the underworld.

As they are leaving, Orpheus is overcome with love for Eurydice (in some versions he hears her breathing or her footsteps) and glances back. Eurydice fades away and returns to the underworld, never to see him again.

I really love that tragic love story. In college, I majored in classics, which has greatly helped in my career path of being freakishly well-read. Just a few days ago, I reviewed Electric Box, another Kongregate game and really liked it, so I expected the combination of classical myth and Kongregate to be great.

No.

Don’t Look Back is an arcade platformer, which means jumping, shooting and, in my case, dying. I’m not good at jump-on-the-platform games, and since I don’t really like them, I doubt I’ll ever get good. I’m willing to try platformers with cool slants — I made an exception for the cute jumping game Momo — but they’re not really my thing.

The game opens with a blocky figure standing next to a grave, but there’s no text or explanation to tell you what’s going on. Thank goodness I have my classics degree for moments like this! Don’t Look Back was much better about telling you to use the arrows to move or spacebar to shoot than it was about telling the story.

I found that Don’t Look Back had lots of jumping and landing on platforms, but not a lot of pretty things to look at while you’re doing this. Each new screen is a surprise, with creepy crawlies set to attack Orpheus on entry, so I spent a lot of time dying.

The graphics are cutely retro, in gothy colors, but that just wasn’t enough to distract me from the problems I had with gameplay.

I really wanted to see how the developer interpreted this myth, and when I’m going to write a review, I usually play games to the end. But, even sondiering those, I never made it to rescuing Eurydice.  After repetive scenes of shooting blocky bugs and hopping over obstacles, I just wasn’t having a good time at all.

I hope that other players really liked Don’t Look Back, and that it inspires a whole trend of classical games! And I hope they’re more fun.

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10 Responses to “Game Review: Don’t Look Back”

  1. Windfiar Says:

    Well, personally, I liked the game. I didn’t know it was about that myth, but I do like that one. It’s on of my more favorites from Greek mythology. It’s easy to understand why you wouldn’t like it though. These kinda games aren’t for everyone, but if you enjoyed, “I wanna be the guy”, you’ll like this. In addition, if you liked this, but haven’t played, “I wanna be the guy” you’ll love it. Just note, “I wanna be the guy” is far more difficult than “Don’t Look Back.”

  2. Meg Says:

    Is that on Kongregate too?

  3. Saul Says:

    As much as I love the classics…the ending in -this- case seemed rather messed up. Of course, once you get past all the obstacles blocking you from your loved one’s soul, you basically escort it out, dodging all sorts of obstacles, while at -no point- turning around. If you do, she vanishes, and you re-start that segment. However…even when you get all the way back to the grave…

    SPOILER! SPOILER! SPOILER!

    You and the ghost arrive, to see…-yourself- at the grave…and then the both of you vanish, ghost-style. It makes -no- sense, to me. Thoughts?

  4. Meg Says:

    Not to go all Classics-major on you, but in that case, the ending sort of reminds me of Baucis and Philemon, an old married couple in Greek myth. They receive a reward for hospitality and they ask the gods to make sure they both die at exactly the same moment so one will never survive the other + have to be alone. The gods agree, and make them young again to essentially restart the clock. (when they reach old age again, and finally die, they become a tree and a vine so they can still be together)

    Now, I never got to the end of Don’t Look Back, (I know, I know, I fail as a game reviewer!) but could it be a reference to that kind of happy ending? When Orpheus and Eurydice vanish, they are starting their love affair over, this time without tragedy?

  5. William Says:

    To really appreciate this game, you have to complete it.

    The main character, after going through an immense struggle (the quite difficult game), finally reaches his deceased lover. He leads her out of the cavern, only to return to her grave, where they started. The main character is still standing at her grave when they get there, and they disappear.

    The way I interpreted it, the character’s rescue of his lover was a happy fantasy, but she is dead and can’t return. The title “Don’t Look Back” has dual meaning: it references the Greek myth and also reminds the player not to look back on tragedy. What’s happened has happened, and can’t be changed.

    I dunno. I liked the challenge, and the ending was really interesting.

  6. Willy Says:

    o really appreciate this game, you have to complete it.

    The main character, after going through an immense struggle (the quite difficult game), finally reaches his deceased lover. He leads her out of the cavern, only to return to her grave, where they started. The main character is still standing at her grave when they get there, and they disappear.

    The way I interpreted it, the character’s rescue of his lover was a happy fantasy, but she is dead and can’t return. The title “Don’t Look Back” has dual meaning: it references the Greek myth and also reminds the player not to look back on tragedy. What’s happened has happened, and can’t be changed.

    I dunno. I liked the challenge, and the ending was really interesting.

  7. Michael Says:

    William’s interpretation above definitely works in my opinion, and it speaks to me.

    The game is magic. The Atari-like graphics, the subperb music, the simple yet haunting story, and the (occasionally very frustrating) platforming fit together beautifully well.

  8. Meg Says:

    Nice interpretation of the ending… a suitable finale to a pretty dark story.

    All the positive comments inspired me to give it another go, but I still felt overwhelmingly frustrated the second time.

  9. Kevin Says:

    the ending sounds great but I couldn’t make it there

  10. Cas Says:

    No need to stand in line at the shopping mall, when your shopping online at the online shopping mall.

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