Thursday, December 22, 2011


No bones about it, there are some pretty weird browser games out there. The freedom to create whatever one wants, without financial obligations or creative expectations, has led to some bizarre creations - and not all of them are good.

FIVE/5 is straddling the border between odd and normal, at least for me. I honestly don't know if I like this game or not. Either way, though, I can freely admit that it's bloody strange - but in a still playable way.


FIVE/5 borders on artistic, so the game's exact purpose isn't TOTALLY clear, but the intro cut scene is more or less self-explanatory: you've been shot. You have five minutes to live. Fail to overcome the hurdles to survival and, well, you're toast.

What hurdles? Ahh, that's the strange part. Shortly after the shooting you're warped into a bizarre realm of intersecting tunnels which you can change to your liking. Do so correctly and you can collect keys to open up more such tunnels, expanding the possibilities for new paths. Do this enough times and you'll get through just fine. (Maybe.)

There is, of course, one rule that makes this a hell of a lot more difficult. Changing the tunnels around is done on a four-by-four grid, like so:

Whenever you're going for a key, you need to ensure that every tunnel links up in a row. Otherwise, your guy will hit dead ends whenever he tries to move from one screen to the next. This is incredibly difficult to manage, especially in the later puzzles, as even one little tunnel left out of order will result in failure.

Oh, and did I mention you have to do all this in five minutes? Hence the name of the game? The timer pauses whenever you're on the map screen, granted, but that's still not a lot of time for running through the maze once you've figured out a puzzle.


FIVE/5 is both a platformer and a point-and-click puzzler, but you can calmly switch between your mouse and your keyboard when paused, so that's no biggie. And, overall, the mouse proves no problem for navigation.

I was more annoying in FIVE/5 by the keyboard setup. I am not a fan of movement through ASDF, and you're forced to use those keys to navigate. An option to switch the control scheme, or at least move the jump button, would've been a plus.


FIVE/5 is a monochromatic game. It loves its blacks, greys and whites, to the point that you'll have to watch flashing patterns of all three no matter which screen you're on. This is striking at first, though after a while it started to hurt my eyes. Have mercy, FIVE/5.

I'd also point out that the map screen, though useful for assembling puzzles, is not terribly helpful when determining what's contained inside a particular set of tunnels. The keys and your little guy are so small that it's hard to tell what's in a given chunk of maze without zooming in, and that wastes precious time. (I will admit, however, that the flashing in miniature while you're on the map screen was a nice touch.)


As this is a title where extremes are the norm, the music in FIVE/5, though repetitive, is really well done. The game's sole track is a powerful violin and cello piece that's about as sinister as anything you'll find in a video game. And since the game THEORETICALLY only takes five minutes, you have little reason to turn the music off. (In theory, of course, the game takes a lot longer than that. Expect to mute after twenty minutes or so, no matter how good the music may be.)

Challenge Rating

FIVE/5 is FREAKING HARD. That talk about extremes? It wasn't an exaggeration. Not only are you given very little guidance in what needs to be done, but once you figure out how the game actually works you'll have a devil of a time completing the various puzzles. It is do-able, but not without a lot of tinkering and trial-and-error. Don't expect to complete FIVE/5 on your first try, it just ain't happening.

I wouldn't be quite so adverse to the challenge FIVE/5 presents if it provided more of an explanation. I can understand if a platformer or a shooter doesn't give a tutorial, but a puzzle game like this? Don't expect happy players. I'd also point out, as one gamer did on Newgrounds, that putting a hint on successful navigation in the Author Description rather than in the game itself is not a great idea. What if FIVE/5 ends up on some other website (inevitable)? New players won't have a clue what to do.


The idea behind FIVE/5 is really neat, and the execution is... interesting... but this browser game needs some more polish. It's just not user friendly enough to be truly enjoyable for the average gamer. Hardcore thinkers who hate being held by the hand will love this game, but irritation is otherwise inevitable.


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