Here’s a quick blast of nostalgia and frustration (or “frustalgia,” if you’re feeling neologistic or prone to portmanteau): A game based on the most irritating and deadly parts of old-school adventure games, like Kings Quest or Quest For Glory. Published by Sierra Entertainment back in the 1980s, those games tasked adventurers—armed with little more than their wits, some magic items, and a text parser that didn’t know what the word “USE” meant—to battle a variety of fantastical foes. Depending on the setting, those could be evil witches, rampaging demons, or sci-fi supervillains armed with millions of cloned insurance salesmen. But whether you were playing as King Graham, Princess Rosella, or poor old Roger Wilco, each Sierra hero had one enemy that trumped all the rest in terms of sheer lethality: Stairs.
Now, developer No More Today Productions has released a game that perfectly captures the frustrations of trying to move a 2D object that can only travel in straight lines through landscapes designed to mimic a 3D world. Stair Quest strips away every element of old Sierra-style games—the puzzle solving, the dialogue, etc.—in favor of climbing up and down a series of increasingly perilous vertical ascents. It’s essentially a one-joke game, but if you’re nostalgic for the days when a fire-breathing dragon was way less scary than the approach to their front door—or want to see definitive proof that games really have gotten better over time—there are worse ways to spend 10 minutes of your life.