Ludum Dare 43: Sacrifices Must Be Made

“Sacrifices Must Be Made” by Daniel Mullins.

“You find yourself in a dimly lit log cabin in the middle of the woods. You are starving to death. The stranger who resides there tells you that he will feed you if you defeat him in a game of cards.”

According to ancient myths, death is said to offer a deal to those who oppose it: If they beat it in a game – often a chess match -, they may go back to the realm of the living. In these stories, death is portrayed as a fair player, but at the same time as a ruthless strategist. Every move is masterfully planned, and so human hope of escaping from the realm of the dead is often wiped out at the end. The antagonist of “Sacrifices Must Be Made” strongly reminds me of this death figure. He offers to the player, who has not eaten for days and suffers agonizing hunger, to feed him, if he wins some rounds of a special card game. But a striking difference to the usual anthropomorphization of death remains: The opponent seems to have a warmer, more kind-hearted character at first, he even lets the player win the first round and explains all the rules and card types of the game, whenever the knowledge is needed. In this way, the tutorial is elegantly woven into the narration.

But after the second round, if you are behind, your opponent will make a very special offer. The player can buy an advantage, but not with money, instead they have sacrifice a part of their body. So it can happen that they lose an eye and thereby only half of the field is viewable. But they can also lose their hand, and with it the ability to draw new cards. Even the card game itself is based on a sacrificial mechanic. There are weak cards that can be put on the field without having to sacrifice another card. Then there are cards that need at one to three offerings, before they can be played. That is how “Sacrifices Must Be Made” incorporates the theme of the forty-third edition of the Ludum Dare in two ways perfectly. Although, the most important sacrifice will only become clear at the end. >>PLAY