Genre: Point-And-Click Adventure
Release date: May 28, 2015
Please, Don’t Touch Anything is an uninspired little puzzle game that combines a vague premise with tedious exercises in detail recognition to create a short, unamusing one-hour experience that isn’t worth the $4.99 the developer is charging. Four Quarters has developed to completion something that should have existed only as a browser-based flash game given its slight and unfulfilling nature.
It’s all in the name: you’re an unidentified person who has been placed by a co-worker in front of a computer console with a big red button on it. You're told, “Please, don’t touch anything.” Naturally, you’ve got to touch. And the more you fiddle and explore, the more buttons, switches, knobs, and other doodads appear. These different little experiments will usually result in some disaster on a screen attached to the console: a cityscape leveled by a mushroom cloud, destroyed by a UFO’s laser beam or bombed by planes. There's no specificity to the world you’re decimating and the means of destruction reveals nothing more about what kind of game this is trying to be or what, exactly, it’s trying to say. It’s a mishmash of cultural references and hackneyed tropes that are momentarily amusing but inspire no original thoughts or questions, and there’s nothing larger to be gained by exploring the game enough to find all the endings.
The graphics, though limited, are a pleasing 16-bit style evocative of an earlier time. The music is retro and well-made but repetitive. There’s hardly more to be said about something so austere and lacking in larger premise, but if you enjoy this style of graphics you’ll appreciate the game’s efforts.
I’ll be the first to acknowledge that a game doesn’t need a potent story to be enjoyable and memorable. Plenty of games are functionally just museums for great puzzle design (Safecracker, anyone?) but that kind of endeavor demands truly inventive concepts and a variety of challenges. Please, Don’t Touch Anything’s puzzles are all of a similar mode: notice a small detail or coded piece of information somewhere on the control panel screen, decipher it, and then use it to trigger one of the game’s endings, lighting up a bulb on the console to indicate you’ve made a new discovery. That’s it. No combining of inventory objects or working out spatial puzzles or decoding riddles. Once you’ve figured out the system, there’s nothing else to glean.
I would feel less affronted by this game if it existed as the browser-based trifle it’s meant to be instead of impersonating a real game experience. Please, Don’t Touch Anything clearly imagines itself to be in good company with other niche, experimental adventure games such as The Stanley Parable and Papers, Please (two of the game’s different endings are even themed after these titles). But while Please, Don’t Touch Anything has successfully replicated the pixelated graphics of Papers, Please (as well as stealing its use of a polite imperative in the title), it fundamentally misunderstands what made those games successful. The Stanley Parable explored the nature of choice and Papers, Please was a hands-on experiment about the arbitrary nature of bureaucracy. However, Please, Don’t Touch Anything has no larger point to make. It doesn’t challenge the player in an intellectual and emotional way or present any new ideas. It’s a shrug-worthy project that isn’t worth the short time you’ll spend fussing with it, much less the five bucks you’ll have to shell out. Skip this game and hope it gets wiped out in the next apocalypse.
+ Nice pixelated graphics
+ Decent music
- Generic premise
- No real story
- Monotonous puzzle design
- No larger point or unifying ending