Every day the same dream

2 Feb

Thanks to a great movie from the early ’90s, we now associate the annual tradition of Groundhog Day with time loops rather than the prediction of more or less cold weather. This association has managed to find its way into video games over the years as both unique gameplay mechanics and shallow gimmicks.

Majora’s Mask seems to be the most well-known, but a quick Google search reveals a handful of games notable for their “Groundhog Day” concepts. I haven’t played, much less heard of, many of them. Flower, Sun and Rain was my most recent venture into living the same day over and over again, but I’d like to throw a more recent, lesser-known (and free) game into the discussion.

Every Day the Same Dream, a free indie game , illustrates its “Groundhog Day” connection right in the title. The concept is simple, and painfully familiar.

You wake up to a grating alarm and get dressed: black suit, black tie. Breakfast in the kitchen smells delicious, but your wife reminds you that you’re late for work. In the elevator, you meet a strange, old lady who relays a strange message. “Five more steps and you will be a new person,” she says.

You sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic in your cramped, little car. Vehicles start and stop, start and stop, over and over. When you arrive at the office, your boss is waiting for you, hands on his hips. “You are late,” he says before telling you to get to your cubicle.

The walk is long. You pass a few soulless faces, generic co-workers toiling away at their  computers. Then you pass a few more and a few more: a mindless army of frustrated pencil-pushers.

When you finally arrive at your desk, the day becomes a blur and you lose track of time. Before you know it, the same grating alarm is telling you wake up and live through the same day again.

It shouldn’t take long for you to realize that there’s more to life in Every Day the Same Dream than getting up and going to work, and that’s when the game really begins. Your goal is to search for the beauty in life despite your mundane responsibilities.

Every Day the Same Dream‘s side-scrolling layout, combined with its limited locales, makes finding every way out a bit difficult but rewarding. At first, it’s hard to see how you can avoid living the same day over and over, but some clever thinking results in some interesting, sad, or just plain humorous situations.

Potential for endless repetition makes for both a subtle tutorial and introspective look at the way we live our lives. The game’s ending is a bit more depressing than I expected, but the parts in between leave you with a familiar message found throughout the many “Groundhog Day” spin-offs: It’s the little details that matter. We should live our lives rather than become slaves to routine.

Pretty powerful stuff for a free, indie game.

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2 Responses to “Every day the same dream”

  1. Adam February 23, 2010 at 4:47 AM #

    I didn’t read the game as a “Groundhog’s Day” kind of scenario, but rather as depiction of the daily grind. It resonated with me because I’ve been there: spending hours upon hours in a cubicle doing work that you hate.

    …and I wanted to jump off of a building.

    Nice blog!

    • chasmang February 23, 2010 at 6:20 AM #

      I suppose it was jumping off the roof that immediately made Groundhog Day come to mind because that made it seem like the character truly is living the same day over and over, rather than just returning to the daily grind. Also, the game’s moral was familiar as well.

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