YouDunnit: a game that travels backwards in time

Over on Play This Thing! Greg Costikyan reviews YouDunnit, a difficult-to-play but incredibly clever game based on levels that go back in time and challenge you not to violate causality:
The basic setup is this: You murdered someone, in locked-room detective story-like fashion, and the detective has shown up to investigate. He's asking everyone their stories. If you catches you out in an inconsistency -- or if you somehow permit everyone else to establish a clear alibi -- you're screwed.

The actual gameplay involves a series of "levels" that are a hour in the past, two hours in the past, three hours in the past, and so on. If you do anything in a level that "violates causality," you are "caught in a lie." Thus, for example, if you give someone a cat in hour -1, and fail to pick up the cat in a previous hour, you lose. You have to keep track of the events that occur, and make sure things remain consistent.



  1. Spider and Web

    This is all I could think about as I read your description (which has a small typo “If you catches you out in an ” should read “If HE catches you.”). I must admit, I am intrigued.

    Play Spider and Web. It’s an interactive fiction game. A ‘Text-Adventure’, if you will. (For our younger set think of Text Adventures as the novel to the movie represented by games like Heavy Rain.)

  2. Wow, that is the most creative game I have heard of in months. “Memento” meets “Clue” in a semi-RPG, semi-Text-Adventure format. I am extremely impressed. Can’t wait to give it a try. (I think the last time I said this about a video game was when I first heard of Portal. No, video games are not a big part of my life, although that’s changing now that I have a touchscreen phone).

    And I couldn’t help but think that this will be popular among movie nitpickers; Y’know, the people who say “He was holding the glass with his other hand in the previous shot!” or “That wound was a little bigger at the beginning of the fight”. It’s like a challenge: Let’s see if YOU can maintain continuity!

  3. There was a shortish interactive fiction game written for the IFComp several years ago which played with a similar idea – there was a time machine which you could use to jump around in time a bit, but you had to ensure that you never generated any observable paradoxes for your past self, like leaving a door open that your past self saw was closed at that time.

  4. “Thus, for example, if you give someone a cat in hour -1, and fail to pick up the cat in a previous hour, you lose.”

    I may be simple, but if you’re successful… from that person’s point of view, you stole the cat they didn’t have, and then brought it back?

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