At a pivotal moment in Why Not? I was attempting to fly into the sky. The narrator tried his hardest to stop me, told me repeatedly that it would not allow me to fly, and then when it finally relented, the scene became touching. Vaguely sad. It appeared that the narrator simply didn’t want to see my fly off into the distance until I became an insignificant speck past the clouds.
The game closed out, the moment final.
Why Not? is riddled with these bizarre moments, making out with skeletons and fighting piles of metal, becoming magic and attending an amazing party. Together they exist in a world of anarchic color — an explosion of tie-dye brilliance, where the previous decisions are left burned into the background of the next choice.
The writing, alongside this bright artistic style, is its own fascination. The closest analogy I can find is if the 4th wall breaking narrator in the Stanley Parable had a baby with the psychotic punk fury of Tank Girl. But then that baby grew up and did it’s own thing. It’s a difficult style to explain, but it was humorous and brief, and while filled with character death and vulgarity I kept wanting to play again and again.
At one point, the game tells you, “I’m going through a lot of stuff right now. This game kinda isn’t my biggest problem.” It feels like that. The narrator isn’t unreliable, he’s just got something else on his mind. Scene descriptions are brief and unexcited, and you bounce between a wide variety of locations from epic party to forest. They feel like the person on the other end of the line hasn’t put 100% of his attention on you. Subsequent play throughs, especially when hitting the same piece of dialogue, amplify this affect. He’s a disinterested narrator, and the way you interact with him — through passivity or through action, determine the way the game plays. Any waffling with prompt the narrator into pushing you towards a decision. Action will sometimes be met with death, but either way they create an environment of push and pull that you wouldn’t expect from such a simple game.
Why Not? is available for free (though the author deserves your donation) through itch.io.