|The Company of Myself|
The Company of Myself is a puzzle platformer game where you create multiple instances of the protagonist you control and interact with the previous iterations of yourself. It features music by David Carney
The game is a time-distortion platformer where the goal on each level is to reach the exit. All of your actions up until you hit the Space button are being recorded, as though by an invisible video camera. As soon as you reset the clock, the level starts anew, except now there's a phantasmal double of yourself scurrying about, re-enacting your first playthrough move for move. Press Space again, and add another one to the mix, this one also moving according to the steps you laid out. Some levels will place a restriction on the number of ghostly doppelgangers you can conjure. You can jump on the head of these iterations of yourself in order to reach places you couldn't previously reach. The game is not very long, sporting 20 levels with increasing difficulty.
The game tells the story of a hermit who lives in a green, grass-filled world. He is the only human, but why he is alone is unexplained. There was a woman once whom the main character loved deeply. The story is delivered through a thought-provoking monologue which reveals that the grassy world and the character's actions are symbolic. The text entries which tell the story appear to be the protagonist's diary entries. These entries tell the tale of how the protagonist is struggling to cope with loss and guilt. The game is built around the narrative and even the level design and game objects are part of the narrative. He killed his wife, placed her corpse in a green box.
My attention is stolen by a green square on the other end of the room. I want to be its friend more than anything I've ever wanted. The square does not react to my approach. Does it not notice me? Or is it only pretending not to notice me? I feel confused. And a bit tingly. But mostly just confusedI briefly think of something worthwhile to think. Nothing emerges. I haven't talked to anyone lately, but at least I can solve my own problems. Staring at this worthlessly large staircase, I reflect on my own past struggles. I search for reasons why I don't desire companionship. I settle on avoidance of the issue. I can clearly get by without others, anyway. I find myself unable to leave the question alone. Why can I not be with people?
I think back to the first day that Kathryn and I met. Our paths converged, and suddenly we were a team. This was before I was as reclusive as I have become today, so I had not learned to truly multitask yet. That talent grew out of simple necessity. Her approach was quiet, as was my response. The connection was instant and unmistakeable. A team. Mutual. Perfect. I wasn't ready to let it go. When we faced a problem, we would solve it together. Today, I find myself solving the same problems alone. I was under appreciative. Plain and simple. Didn't understand just how much I needed her. How much she needed me. It was perfect. Everything. It was all perfect. I helped her, and she helped me. Mutual. I never suspected the end to come so quickly. I found myself crushed by guilt. I didn't leave the house for days. But she was gone. And now I find myself alone. I can't handle talking to people anymore. I grudgingly consider how the ability to start over from a different perspective would have been helpful earlier in life. Maybe I could have let Kathryn not meet me in the first place..
And like this, I continue. What? Don't leave yet. I have more to say. I really do. Are you really leaving?
I've been tasked with psychoanalyzing Jack after his mental breakdown. In general, he recalls his life very accurately -- The things he says line up with all of the records. The first problem is that he doesn't seem to remember any of my visits. I've talked with him once a week for the past eight years, and he always tells me the same things as if we've never met before. He describes himself as a loner, and this makes a whole lot of sense, as he has been kept in solitary confinement for the duration of his stay at the hospital. He always briefly talks about his life, and eventually gets into the story of how he lost his loved one, Kathryn. He understands that she has dies, and he certainly feels at least somewhat responsible, but he doesn't recall that he murdered her. She was found buried in their backyard in a green package. Evidently, it was the only box large enough for use as a coffin that Jack could find. Also of note were there two flowers that he planted next to the makeshift grave. He considers her death to be the reason that he can't talk to people anymore. I suppose that in a way, he is correct. This will be my final report on Jack. I don't find any reason to believe that he will recover from his current state of severe mental illness, and he is far too dangerous to himself and others to allow his release.
The shrink leaves, and suddenly I don't even have a person to tell my story to anymore.