[Game Review] Sometimes You Die: A Stark but Brilliant Platforming Game

Philipp Stollenmayer has created a wonderful and brilliant platforming game called Sometimes You Die. The main protagonist in the game is a square, that navigates its way through varying puzzles and sparsely colored environments. It is not a long game, but the fun you have in the game makes it well-worth downloading. Here’s the kicker, sometimes you will have to die to get to the next level.

Starting the game you will find a square within a background with limited colors. All of the games levels, with the exception of a few special ones (No spoilers given here.) are rendered in black, white and gray. A splash of red is provided on interim screens when you finish a level and move to another. Stollenmeyer has successfully created a game that is shrouded in mystery. I really felt as if I were on a journey to unlock the mysteries of this game. The platforming used to solve the puzzles are perfect, and at times quite challenging. The only way to get through many of the levels is to die….repeatedly.

“This one is different. In this game, you have to die. What is your motivation? What do you expect from this game? Do you want to beat it? How do you know it can be beaten? This game plays with expectation, illusion, and reality.”   – Philipp Stollenmayer

Philipp Stollenmayer has proven himself to be quite the game maker. He could easily play the role of Game Maker, Seneca Crane or Plutarch Heavensbee in The Hunger Games. He sets you up for some fantastic encounters with puzzles. The Play Store lists this game as an adventure, and I would have to say that is correct. It is an adventure game that is loaded with platforming elements. Each level is designed for you to get from one side of the screen to the other side of the screen, making it to the exit. Basically you have to get from point A to point B. In most cases, it is not hard to figure out how you are to get there. The challenging part is figuring out the best way to die to do it.

Each level has saw-toothed edges either on the floor, ceiling or walls in-between. The controls allow you to move left, right or jump. The controls are flawless. The jump button is spot-on, and the fluidity of moving left or right is perfect. The controls are part of the key to making this an extremely successful game. Back to getting from point A to point B. You have to die to do so. You have to allow your square to become a bridge to get from point A to point B, or in some cases, a ladder or stair. You have to time your death just right, so that you can use that square as your next foothold to the area that you want to access. The game mechanic can be hard to describe, but once you have done it, it becomes the perfect tool in the game.

Within every level is a statement that is highlighted in white text, amongst a bunch of other words. A robotic voice is with you on the journey and reads the statement for each level, just to let you know he is there and watching you. The sentence is pulled from a puzzle of words. In many ways, the highlighted sentence sets you up for what is to come… sometimes. There is a solitary light bulb that appears randomly throughout the levels. You square has the ability to knock the light out, but I am not sure what Stollenmayer was trying to accomplish by letting us do so. It is a nice little detail if nothing else. When you complete a level a friendlier female voice lets you know what is coming next. The background music is perfect for the journey, and adds to this extremely well-crafted atmosphere. 

There are 8 levels, in which, there are multiple puzzles in each. As I mentioned before, it is not necessarily a long game. Depending on your strategy and skills in platforming games, will determine how long the game is for you. There were definitely some tough levels and some ah-ha moments. So much so, that once I finished the game, I was quite disappointed it was over.

I don’t want to give anything away about this game, because it is one that should be experienced. There are plenty of sites that have provided the spoilers for you, if you want to search them out. All I can say is that Philipp Stollenmayer has created a brilliant puzzle game set in a stark environment. If you enjoy platforming games that take you on a journey, albeit philosophical at times, Sometimes You Die is the game for you. Much like Monument Valley, the fun ends before you want it to. This is a game that shouldn’t be missed. I hope Stollenmayer expands on this game, or provides us a sequel. I will be happy to return to the world he created in Sometimes You Die. The game is available to download for $1.79 Though the game is shorter than most, it is worth every penny.


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