As yet another game on the Steam Indie scene, “Please, Don’t Touch Anything” is a small effort which tries to stand out against all of the countless others which surround it, and ultimately seems outdone by its own ambitions – and disappointingly so.
Developed by Four Quarters, PDTA is in essence a puzzle game, and in this sense it does a good job. The puzzles are difficult, and deceptively so during the early stages, and yet they aren’t unachievably insane in most cases, meaning that whilst there’s an option for trial and error, there’s still an air of cleverness about them if you want to approach them that way.
For me, trial and error served the best method, using what was on the screen to fuel spontaneous bouts of clicking and anger. It seems mostly like a game about discovering the mind-numbing solutions to these tough puzzles set out, and stumbling upon them gave the 16 possible endings a generally rewarding feeling. In regard to these endings however most relied heavily on pop-culture referencing and B-Movie style fiction, and pretty much all of these bar one or two fell flat.
The reward was still there though – for all of 2 seconds before they were done, in all their satirical and underwhelming glory. These endings along with the amount of tedious effort needed for some puzzles are what in fact puts me off this game somewhat, as whilst admittedly they are interesting, they just don’t serve as correct pay-off for the brain-racking and illogical thought that is needed for some moments. Stumbling across them may be fine, but having one that you worked out tirelessly (and definitely without the walkthrough) result in a quick animation and then a return to normal serves as an ‘Oh’ moment rather than the ‘FINALLY OMG WOW’ moment it should really be in a game like this.
Credit where it’s due however, in terms of visual and audio style, this game is spot on. The music in this game is superb, and the changing tempos and underlying techno beat goes so well with the surroundings and the atmosphere the game has. The small effect of the music being reduced into an echo when you bring up the pause menu is a small touch, but one that really shows a level of careful thought that has clearly gone into its design. As for looks, it has a style reminiscent of the brilliant “Papers Please”, which against works well with the environment you’re in, so another well done there in creating this scientific and computerised tone. But these contrasts to this other indie title mostly stop there.
Whilst games like Paper’s Please had a general plot or end goal which served as your reason to keep playing and push you against the challenges you faced, PTDA doesn’t really have this. The end goal is a small animation or just the same animation if you don’t learn, and without a real plot other than the title to go by, there seems to be no consequence for you just turning off and walking away.
It’s a time-killer in a fancy suit, with the time you spend depending on how good or how eager you are as a player, and really falls when its premise had a lot of potential to work with. It seemed like it could have been a new version of “The Stanley Parable”, getting in touch with what makes the player ‘play’ but alas, this train of thought stops as soon as the first cut-scene is over. Maybe worth a try if you enjoy hard-core puzzling, however it’s nothing you’re going to call round your friends to come and play.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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