Developer: Krillbite Studio
Publisher: Krillbite Studio
Version reviewed: 1.1.3
Genre: Free to Play, Casual, Indie
Life is short.
Krillbite Studio, an indie game developer based in Hamar, Norway, took this phrase and created a short experimental game around it – The Plan. It was developed as a side project for a few months, while they were working on Among the Sleep – a first-person horror adventure, where you take on the role of a two-year-old child. In The Plan, the player assumes the role of an even smaller protagonist – a fly, who ascends to the skies, pondering the pointlessness of its brief existence.
Krillbite Studios has a very clear vision of its purpose in the gaming industry:
We love the game medium. Merging existing art and media forms into one digital symbiosis has endless potential … It is not merely an entertainment product, it is a method of communication like no other, able to provoke our inner feelings and deepest thoughts.
The Plan is one virtual embodiment of those words.
You start by navigating a deep, dark and dense forest, using the arrow keys or [WASD] of your keyboard. The only way to progress through the game, however, is to fly up, while making sure to avoid the obstacles – falling leaves, spider webs, gusts of wind. These diversions are much too small to affect humans, but are actual dangers that a fly faces in its day-to-day life; they can’t kill you in the game, but they throw you off your path for a bit. It can be slightly frustrating, especially while trying to release yourself from a spider web. When this happens, press and hold the down button, three times.
What truly strikes you at first are the clear, almost pure, ambient sounds that create the atmosphere – the flowing of water, the breeze, the slow chimes of enlightenment as you fly up into the rays of light passing through the canopy – all of it is strangely relaxing. The controls are simple and straightforward, allowing you ample time to contemplate and appreciate how you, the fly, are so tiny and vulnerable amid the majesty of the natural and cosmic surroundings.
Once you reach the treetops, your ears are filled with the magnificent musical score, Grieg’s ‘Åses Død’, performed by Oslo Camerata, that will send tingles down your spine.
There’s also ‘a hidden sound with a hidden message’. You can locate it by following the left side of the screen. You’ll hear it very soon after the third gust of wind. In fact, the wind will push you into its very direction. And it’s difficult to miss, because it’s extremely distinct, repetitive and out of place in the given environment. Once you find it, you can try decoding the message on your own. If you don’t know how to, you can visit the Steam forums and search for the discussion on this topic, that reveals how this can be done.
The ending is abrupt and tragicomical, something we should’ve seen coming, but were too caught up in the scenic beauty of the game. It’s followed by a dark and vast expanse of stars, each of which denote the expressions/comments of players. Many of them are pretty clever and interesting to read.
The Plan has since been nominated for the Nordic Indie Sensation Award 2013 at the Nordic Game Conference and was exhibited at the NotgamesFest during Gamescon 2013. It was also named the 10th most important game of 2013 by Heise magazine. It’s currently counting over 600,000 downloads.
Yes, the game is extremely short; it may only take you 10-15 minutes to complete it. And it happens within a very limited space; you will often come upon invisible boundaries, when you try to explore much further beyond the width of the screen. But it is visually breathtaking and aurally immersive, offering a unique experience and throwing perspective on an idea we take for granted. The game is, of course, open to interpretation. I think it demonstrates that in the grand scheme of things, we are all alike, even the fly – we are small and insignificant, and so is any moment we isolate and consider among others. But every moment is absolutely precious and we often don’t realize this, until our time is over. And although this might seem sad, there is a kind of beauty to this: The Plan not only reveals our brief existence in relation to the eternity of the Universe, but is also a poetic reminder to make the most of every moment we spend on this earth.
The Plan released for free to PC, Mac, Linux on February 10, 2013.
“And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself?” ― Rumi