“[A]n artistic minimalist platformer where you are tasked with exploring the mysteries of this strange world to ultimately discover its dark truth.”
Some things in life are hard to accept, but you still have to face them in the end – that’s the core message I got from “DOLLY”. The game is a short little platformer with a narrative, that doesn’t need many words to be told. Besides the starting sequence, the whole storytelling gets done with the help of the level design. In the first ‘stage’ of it, we see the silhouette of a young woman’s head. She seems to be healthy at this point, and by shoving a pillar into the place where her eye sockets could be surposed to be, the path to the next ‘level’ unravels.
“DOLLY” becomes a bit more difficult from this point on. Suddenly we have to overcome several leap of faiths and must jump carefully to not run into spikes. Eventually, we will see the woman’s head again, but this time it resembles more of a skull. It’s certain at this point that the woman died or will die. Nonetheless, our journey is not over yet. We have to climb giant chains to the surface and get through some more passages, that would result in our death if we touch them. In the end, there is just a snowing plateau waiting for us, and the beeping tunes of what I would describe as a life support machine.
So what exactly “DOLLY” is about? I already told you that there is a short scene at the beginning of the game. Let’s have a quick look on this little intro: The three sentences “I understand how painful this is for you, but you need to give me an answer… It’s the right thing to do. For her sake and yours…” get displayed, while you can hear the same squeaking sounds that appear in the ending.
That’s why I’d assume that the life support of a young woman with a terminal illness is about to get shut down at the start. We, the players, take over the role of the life support, which is trying to find a way out of this dying body to finally let her rest in peace. Each ‘stage’ gets filled with more and more dangerous platformer elements, which could be interpreted as the symptoms of the sickness; maybe the spikes are a metapher for metastases, for example? Even if I got some of those details wrong, I’m certain that “DOLLY” is a game about the inevitability of death itself, and a quite beautiful one that I’d highly recommend you to play.