You'll want to poke this doomsday device

You're left alone at a battered, mysterious console, a flickering urban display on the greenscale monitor before you. There is just one big, red button within your reach. After briefly wrestling with yourself, you press it. Pressing it causes a switch to emerge from the console. Flip the switch and a tiny light comes on. Now what?

I've been really charmed by Please Don't Touch Anything, a sort of puzzle box game that tasks you with figuring out the workings of some bleak old doomsday device based on trial and error, some clues scrawled in the environment, and general willingness to prod. There are multiple ways it can all end, and the art is wonderful. So is the soundtrack, which morphs elegantly as your relationship to the device, and therefore your tension, mounts.

It's a pleasure to play with, and the dystopic, pixelly aesthetic has drawn comparisons to Papers, Please. To me, something about Please Don't Touch Anything's stoic refusal to invite me in reminds me lots of the old room escape games I used to play in web browsers last decade -- they were numerous and varied wildly in quality, which almost made the experience of poking around with them feel more mysterious, demanding of me some quality that was part persistence and skill, but part simply a willingness to believe luck.

I remember in particular the works of Toshimitsu Takagi, whose Crimson Room, Viridian Room and my personal favorite, White Room, were indelible on my memory. Read the rest