It’s been a good week for games you can just casually play in your web browser and navigate away from with a quickness when your boss heads in your direction. First, there was the text-based Paul McCartney simulator, which saw you recording “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” playing a show with Wings, or trapped inside James Corden’s car, depending on which year you chose. Now, you can play a video adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story “The Rats In The Walls,” but—plot twist!—you play the game as the rats. (You are not in the walls, but that’s a good thing.)
The Rats In The Walls, an itch.io-hosted game, was created for the 1924 Game Jam, an event celebrating work (literature, music, film, visual art) from 1924 that’s now entering the public domain. (Disclosure: Alex Brechman, the game’s creator, is a former employee of The Onion, and remains a freelance contributor.) In some alternate version of this game, you’d play as Delapore, an American who purchases a possibly cursed piece of ancestral land in England and sets out to explore his new property. Or maybe you’d play as Norrys, friend to Delapore, and you’d spend the game trying to keep him from succumbing to madness and taking up the family pastime (that would be cannibalism).
Not in this game. The mechanics are tied to the conceit, and both are pretty simple: You are the “probably imaginary rats,” and your job is to drive—as in herd or steer—Delapore into madness by forcing him into three nightmare rooms.
He runs away from the rats. You are the rats. So, you have to use your power of being the rats to force him to run in the correct direction. It’s simple, in that wait-this-is-a-little-tricky kind of way, it’s also pretty funny, and it’s a clever adaptation of a classic short story. And unlike the source material, it’s not racist! Have fun, and remember to control+tab when someone boss-like is approaching.