Review | SuteF
Format: PC | Genre: Puzzle | Publisher: Rotten Tater | Developer: Rotten Tater | Release date: 28/12/2010 | Price: FREE
Lewis Anderson thinks he doesn’t belong in this world. And that the elevator is DEFINITELY his salvation. Confused? Play indie puzzler SUTEF to find out what the hell’s going on…
IT’S HARD to describe suteF in words. Actually no, that’s a lie. It’s a puzzle game. And like most puzzle games, it has puzzles that require solutions. Negotiate the little blue fellow around the screen until he reaches the exit, then repeat on the next level.
As with all things simple, what starts out straightforward soon becomes complex. Lasers that kill on touch, a surface grabbing hookshot and devices that invert gravity help to complicate proceedings. On top of that, most levels require crates to be massaged across them with any incorrect movements leading to a level restart. Undue haste is the enemy here – especially when certain levels, just when they seem solved, flicker with white noise before dramatically altering their layout.
More than one way out
But then there’s the… other stuff. The unsettling stuff. The stuff that words fail to describe.
The game opens with Amaras, the little blue fellow, stranded atop a tower and coughing up blood. Amaras then ventures through a dark world littered with giant monitors and stone walls before coming across clones of himself who have seen a violent end. Sometimes they’re in the middle of their violent end, debating with panic before giving up and throwing themselves into the Grim Reaper’s embrace.
The Amaras you control isn’t above the torture either. Brutal deaths await your character too, sometimes intentionally, but suteF always makes sure you have a new Amaras clone ready to lead into hell.
Me, myself and I
Amaras is a sympathetic chap who doesn’t belong where he is. He’s thrown into the company of other characters, like the amiable Computer Bear or benevolent Fetus, but largely spends his torturous journey on his lonesome. A journey that becomes more disturbing as it goes on.
One section of the game sees Amaras walking along a path strewn with clone corpses, the scene repeating as he walks through it like some kind of 18-rated episode of the Flintstones. He walks along the path while his ‘friend’ floats above taunting him. Amaras begins to flee the taunts, but soon tires and starts to walk. Then he starts to crawl. And then, finally, Amaras lays down to die.
Disturbing isn’t a good enough word to describe what’s going on here. It’s on a par with that level from Modern Warfare. SetuF is a game unafraid to use a character’s death as more than just an excuse to punish the player. Here, death is part of the atmosphere and brings the ambiguous world of suteF to life just as much as the eerie sound effects and gloomy surroundings.
Another section, simply called ‘Choice’, sees Amaras and a clone trapped in separate cells by lasers. One Amaras can free the other but will die in the process. As the level title dictates, there’s a choice here between killing the player character, or waiting and letting the other Amaras free you. And he will free you. He’ll push that crate along the ledge, shaking in fear the whole time, and delay his final movements as though he knows they will be his last. Then, in one final act, he’ll push the crate over the edge, freeing your Amaras. I’ll let you guess what happens to the other one.
Harrowing stuff. This is a dark game but, despite what this review describes, not a gruesome one. It’s the brainchild of a warped mind that chills you as much as it challenges you. From the start the player is sucked into the sinister dimensions of setuF and isn’t let go until its chilling end.
What does it all mean?
Keen observers will have noted that suteF is Fetus written backwards, which perhaps implies that the trials of Amarus and his clones are some kind of dark allegory for the ‘Great Sperm Race’. Only one clone can win right?
But what the game means is immaterial. setuF is one hell of a twisted puzzle jaunt that is totally worthy of your gaming time. Set aside a couple of hours for it, go on. You won’t regret it.
It’s free so you’ve got no excuse!