“DOLLY” by Blake M. Wood & Mark Sparling.
“[An] 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 difficult to accept, but you still have to face them in the end – that is the core message I got from playing “DOLLY”. The game is a short, narrative-driven platformer, that does not need many words. Besides the starting sequence, the whole storytelling gets done with the help of the level design. In the first stage, we see the silhouette of a young woman’s head. By shoving a pillar into the place where her eye sockets are surposed to be, the path to the next ‘level’ unravels.
“DOLLY” becomes somewhat more difficult from this point on. Suddenly we have to overcome several leaps of faith 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 is certain at this point that the woman either deceased or will die soon. Nonetheless, our journey is not over yet. We have to climb giant chains to the surface and get through dangerous passages. Finally we reach a snowing plateau and the game ends to the beeping tunes of what I would describe as a life support machine.
So, what exactly is “DOLLY” about? I already told you that there is a short scene at the beginning of the game: The three sentences “I understand how painful this is for you, but you need to give me an answer… [It is] 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 is why I would assume that the life support of a young woman with a terminal illness is about to get shut down at the beginning. We as the players take over the role of the life support, 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. That is why I see it as a game about the inevitability of death itself, and a quite beautiful one that I would highly recommend you to play. [PLAY]