Presentable Liberty: A Trial in Waiting

Presentable Liberty is an indie horror game unlike any game you’ve played before. It has also been described as a visual novel that allows you only one chance to make a choice and that doesn’t come into play until the end of the game. You will be allowed to choose the outcome between two depressing endings; and you can get it here. Depressing game endings aren’t something new but the way the waiting in this game is presented is new. There is no instant gratification. Think about it, when was the last time you had to wait in a game? I don’t mean waiting for the guard to turn the corner so you can sneak around him or waiting for the enemy to have a moment of weakness before striking either. This entire game is about waiting. The game is about an hour long, however when you are playing it, it seems a lot longer. As its said in this one review, you are alone with only your thoughts.

In the game you are imprisoned but you don’t know why and your only contact with the outside world is from letters that are delivered to you. Through these letters you get snippets from about what is happening in the world and what is happening to you but never enough to put together what the full story is. You also have to decide whether or not to trust what is said in the letters as you do not actually know the people who are writing them.

One of the really cool things about this game is the way they show the personalities of the 4 characters. Since you never see them, the game has to come up with more creative ways of showing who the characters are and they do that through the handwriting and paper of each character. The handwritings are very distinct and say a lot about who the letters are from.

Your happy buddy’s handwriting towards the end of the game
Charlotte’s letters look like this throughout

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The game is based on isolation as you never see a living soul throughout the whole game (unless you count the bug friend that is given to you at the very beginning).  Both the diegetic and the nondiegetic elements in the game further push the isolation. For instance there is sound throughout the game that is diegetic and creates a sense of unease. There is the ticking of a clock constantly and the sound of wind and pipes but nothing else. At one point there is music from the outside world but it doesn’t last very long and when it is over you feel more isolated than ever.

Two of the nondiegetic elements is the save and pause aspects of the game or rather the lack of them. You have to play the game all the way through which can be difficult for people like me who are bored easily but I got through it and so can you. The end result is worth it. Since the letters are set to arrive at a certain time each playthrough and time in the game continually moves forward, it’s hard to be away from the computer for more than a few minutes at a time.

Something else that is used to create isolation is the main character themselves. You are the character when you play this game. The game is in a first-person point of view and you know nothing about this character. Even when you are sent a letter saying Dear                , the name is left off. It is meant to make you feel more like you are actually locked up and less like you are playing a character that is a prisoner.

This is a letter from Doctor Money

While you are waiting for the next letter to arrive there isn’t much to do. You have the option of walking around your cell, staring at the clock, or playing with your Doctor Money’s Portable Entertainment System. The entertainment system is basically a Gameboy that you receive as a gift. At first it only has one game on it but eventually more get added on. You might be thinking that that’s a good thing. Minigames to play instead of having to be bored! However the minigames are incredibly frustrating and difficult. Each game you receive has 20 levels to play though and I don’t know anyone one that’s gotten through all of the levels of one game. If you have I applaud you because that’s amazing. Especially a game called piteous moonlight; I got stuck on level 2 and I had to give up because it was making me incredibly angry. So you basically have a choice of boredom or frustration.

You may be saying “Wow this game sounds horrible! Why would I ever willingly waste money and time on this game Gloriana?” And to that I say it’s free so you’d only be wasting time.

 

But really the game is one that you play for the experience. It’s hard coded so it’s the same every time and there is only one choice you can actually make in the game, but every person that plays it has a completely different reaction and experience with it. If anyone has watched other people play through the game, such as YouTube walkthroughs done by people like markiplier or the gamegrumps, you will understand what I mean. I recommend watching some of these playthroughs and I’ve included a link to one by markiplier. However, first play the game yourself so your reaction to it is genuine. Luca Colosso said it best when he said “It’s better to play it, rather than read about it,” because for some people it changed their life and for others it was a waste of an hour.

 

 

  2 comments for “Presentable Liberty: A Trial in Waiting

  1. ppalisin
    February 27, 2015 at 1:09 am

    I admit to watching Markiplier’s playthrough of this game, and in spite of it not being my own first-hand experience, and that I was in a way accompanied by him as a commentator, I was utterly distraught and disturbed. There was an overwhelming sense of futility, isolation that was verging on painful. It is a rare game that can evoke such a sensation, especially given the thought that there are large swaths of time where a player is, in fact, on their own. Without the illusion of action, of accompaniment, a game can make us fully conscious of our isolation as players, and the limitations of our position as such.

    The only other game I could draw as a parallel of some sort would be Journey. True, you have the opportunity to be accompanied, but with the lacking dialogue between you and your companion, and oftentimes being left alone entirely, there is a similar though less noticeable strain of loneliness and isolation.

  2. isolemnlyswear
    March 20, 2015 at 1:41 am

    This is a really cool concept for a game. I liked your point about the lack of waiting we are able to have in most games. In this case, the player has to wait. It really taps into the psychology of not having access to something right when you want it. The idea of having to play it all the way through just increases the feeling of imprisonment and loneliness. I think the constraint of the game produce a very interesting narrative about what we expect from games. We expect to not have to wait and be able to leave at any point. We are given choices. Taking all of these away can make the player become frustrated and limited which isn’t something they may usually feel while playing games. I also found it interesting that everyone who played it had a different experience even though it was made for people to go through the same things. I wonder why that occurred. Overall, the narrative of limitations plays on the fact that people have lots of abilities in games and challenges how we perceive the games we play.

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