Forced death is something I've had an aversion to ever since the game Nocturne, in which you were forced into a hallway full of doors in which only one door didn't lead to instant death. Given the buggy nature of the game and the long load times, that hallway was not a fun experience. Instead it was more like an hour of desk-pounding frustration as I screamed at my computer screen every 5 seconds.

I've come around since then, as I've seen a few examples of death as a useful mechanic. Certainly Braid's rewinding of time helped me see the instructive value of the occasional death. There've been plenty of FPS games where the camera shows me who killed me, letting me know what I'm up against. There's also Starcraft 2, which what little I've gotten to play of the beta has me addicted to their replay feature.

Maru is different though. Maru, from Jesse Venbrux, is a 2D platformer where you jump between different platforms, moving toward a goal and avoiding spikes, except the gravity is towards the platform, not down--very similar to how Super Mario Galaxy works, but in 2D.

What stood out to me about the game though was how it handles death. You collect extra men as floaty little orbs that look just like your character's head. However when you die, you turn into a floaty little white orb of light. When you get back to where you died, you can pick that up. You then run into platforms that need those light orbs before you can proceed.

Death in a game can certainly be a learning experience, but having be required to pass? You get a little ball of light when you die that you have to collect and spend later. It's similar to how The Nexus works in Demon's Souls. In Demon's Souls, when you die you can attack demons for more souls in order to become more powerful. Except here, it's required to progress.

Why You Should Check This Out: Besides the forced suicide, it's an interesting platformer that has some really great physics. There's only 7 levels, though sometimes you may need to go through a level multiple times. The art and music are both pretty good for an indie platformer and certainly not generic. The multicolored platforms and weird, bugeyed protagonist give the art a different feel than most other games. While they're requiring you to die to complete the game, it doesn't feel too forced or onerous. Instead, it's a refreshing way to use death in a platformer as more than just a way to burn up extra lives.

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Interesting note: This was made by the same guy who made the Karoshi: Suicide Salaryman games, which were puzzle platformers in which every level involved solving elaborate puzzles in an attempt to kill yourself. Those were far less polished mechanically than this one, though.

I really like this. It was nice and simple, but really fun and interesting.

There are two sets of spoilers. First may not actually be spoilers, it's about a mechanic in the game, but might color your first playthrough.

The second is about the ending.


I liked how you had to die to continue. I also really liked having to replay the game to actually beat it (for me, because I didn't have 3 white orbs and no way to kill myself in the first level). I also really liked the way it made you play that last level since you had no more "lives" left but had to traverse the hardest jumping puzzle to complete it.


Recursion (noun): See Recursion.
I love it!

Also, did anyone actually die? I never lost all my lives and am curious as to what happens, but I am too lazy to start it back up to see.

Wow, this met with massive crickets.

Jesse Venbrux has updated the game now, making the level order a little bit more intuitive and removing the possibility of messing up and having to play through again.

I've been busy, but still want to get around to this in the next week or two.

Switchbreak wrote:

Wow, this met with massive crickets.

Jesse Venbrux has updated the game now, making the level order a little bit more intuitive and removing the possibility of messing up and having to play through again.

Really there's not much to it. You can see all it has to offer in 15 minutes. It's a good game to check out, but I'm not really sure what there is to say about it.