You Have to Win the Game (J. Kyle Pittman)

You Have to Win the Game is an exploration platformer with a retro 1980s PC aesthetic.[Author’s Description]

[Download for Windows]


  1. This is utterly, utterly excellent (at least as of the 46th percent mark).

    (I’m not sure what I think about one collectible that looks like it becomes permanently sealed off if you happen to visit a pair of sections out of order. It’s exacerbated by the fact that one of those sections is behind a one way gate of sorts, forcing you to continue onward in that direction if you happen to drop down there first. I’m considering starting over from the beginning, such is my enthrallment, but I’m also thinking maybe an alternate solution will present itself later on?)

    • noseriouslyguys

      For what it’s worth, you will likely have another chance to get that item on your current save file.

      • I ended up deciding to start over this morning, but have now reached the point where what you’re hinting at is clear. I think it’s a pretty satisfying structure, and maybe even justifies the earlier bit of potential frustration (like the punchline of a joke).

        In any case, this is such a great game. My only point of critique now is that the ‘magic word’ bit doesn’t go quite as deep as I had hoped…

        • noseriouslyguys

          I agree with you on all counts. I was expecting a bit more depth from the magic word idea too, but I agree that it in no way tarnishes the very engaging game. I just repeated what you just said, so.. I guess the only purpose of this comment is to supply you with affirmation. Haha. 😀

  2. Oh, my. In one room, in-game symbols sort of instruct you to open what looks to be a debug prompt. Messing around with it, the only legitimate command I discovered ended up closing the game (I was aiming for a command to solve the out-of-order problem mentioned above). I can’t decide if this is amazing or unfortunate, but I’m leaning towards down-the-rabbit-hole amazing.

  3. Marvelous. I totally love these kind of games. I feel connected.

    • noseriouslyguys

      Hah! Funny you should comment, as “Passion for Exploring” was stuck in my head throughout my whole playthrough. 🙂

  4. This was a pretty a cool game, from what I have been able to play so far! I

    Is there anyway out of the “Never Could See Any Other Way” room? If there is, I’m not seeing it. It seems like you’re stuck in this room “FOREVER…” as the background puts it, if you enter. I have a feeling it’s a lose-room and I need to restart the game, but I saw no other exit I could take after falling down to the areas where you can get the blue platform powerup. Also once you enter the room, it just wraps if you try to go back.

    nobody: Ugh, yeah, the one-way seal after you collect the blue powerup is kinda cruel, especially since if you fall down the pit, there’s a save point forcing your inability to return to that room without collecting the blue platform upgrade. So you have to basically restart your entire playthrough.

    Other than these punishing parts (tons of one-way falls, that one game-losing room I mentioned) that forbid backtracking, and kind of evil checkpoint placement, it seems like a pretty cool game. Also the CGA artwork is hot.

    • I don’t know what happened, but part of my post got cut off… Oh well, nothing huge missed there.

      • noseriouslyguys

        There is a way out, and it’s not any kind of trick.

        • Nevermind, I see it now (got to the bottom), but the timing on this is sort of unforgiving. And the almost pixel perfect collision certain doesn’t help. I hate these sorts of things in games.

          I might try a couple hundred more times, or I might give up in frustration because it seems to be the only way to continue progress in the game. We’ll see! But yes, I consider non-optional challenges like this sort of poor level design 🙁 I suppose it fits the theme, which is an old-fashioned 80s PC game — but I prefer when games reward you for taking risks, with optional challenges, instead of gating progress with difficulty walls like this, that punish less-skilled players. I can perhaps understand why they decided to make it this relentless though – it’s a matter of preference I guess.

          • I made it! It only took about 30 minutes of brute-force. I felt like I never actually had a grasp on the timing and it was more about luck. But yeah, that is over with, hopefully the rest of the game isn’t too punishing.

          • noseriouslyguys

            Congrats! Yeah, the game has some tough areas, but there are only one or two other rooms that are as hard as that one. I didn’t find the game nearly as hard as the games it’s modeled after.

  5. I like this CGA graphic!

  6. I thought this game was okay. It’s extremely polished and often quite clever, but I didn’t find the upgrades interesting enough to prevent the backtracking from getting dull. That said, I’m stuck at 99%…

  7. Inception, Matrix, Fight Club, American Beauty, Plato’s cave, Ghost in the shell… And YOU MUST WIN THE GAME!

  8. Aquin: The magic word is found somewhere in the “underground” level that you reach through the teleporter 🙂

    (Also, apparently the maximum comment depth on this blog is 5 levels!)

    • The last game he made was Arc Aether Anomalies, so that’s interesting. I noticed that a long time ago, but thought it was a cute easter egg.

      Still stuck, but hopefully I click on it soon.

      • If you know the word and symbol, the solution is just a matter of finding where to “use” it…

        • Okay, I got 100.0% so is it possible to score even higher? I ask because of that bell on the *other* side of the wall just before the final portal. What is going *on* there?

          • I *think* that bell is just noise, nice visual degradation clutter like the rest of the room. I got to 100% this morning, but by doing it the right way and then the wrong. Is there anything new to see by taking the time to go through and refinishing the right way at 100%?

            (Also, the more I think about it, the more I think the magic word was a missed opportunity here. I got it by trying everything that was in my notes, and was surprised when that one worked. Was the tantalizing ‘cats’ clue just a red herring?)

            [Lastly, I’m compelled to reiterate, at the bottom of this somewhat complain-y comment, that I think this game is utterly brilliant and that I found it utterly enjoyable. I’m so glad this game exists.]

  9. Awesome Game. It reminds me a bit on VVVVVV (Especially some Room Names :D). It reminds me on this game from mazapan too.

    The name sounds similar and the beginning is similar too, but hopefully it´s not that easy, as I thought in the first moments. 😀

  10. Instant_strudel

    Whenever I try to play this I get this peculiar error: Error R6002 floating-point support not loaded

  11. I was able to go through the hole in the ceiling in the “Catharsis in Catastrophe” room. I ended up in a completely black, blank room, and from here I could move to other completely black rooms. After more exploration, I would end up in familiar rooms from earlier in the game but I would be “inside” their walls.

    I wonder if this is a glitch or not. I’d rather not spend potentially hours exploring this “inverse space” if there is nothing to find.

  12. I’ve also been able to scale the wall of the “A Sickly Silver Moon” room and end up on the other side of the wall, where the moon is. From here I could make it down to the “Yggdrasil” and “Maps and Legends” rooms. Once again, I was on the other side of the wall from usual – I was where the map is.

    If this is an oversight in the game, it is one that actually makes the game better, in my opinion. Still, I don’t know how much time I want to spend crawling through the walls.

  13. @BFIII I also found this bug, and made a video:

  14. Excellent game! Love the retro screen idea. Clever, and effective. Wonder how it is done.

    Funnily enough, the gameplay is very similar (if not the same) to a game that appeared the retro competition I held not so long ago. The theme of the competition was “colors unlocking” and this game (Yet Another Game About Colors) was the winner.

    In that very game you walk around the dungeons and unlock colored platforms by collecting colored orbs.

    If someone is curious on a different rendering of the same idea, give it a peek:

  15. Arrgh, I think I screwed myself over. In the room “Forgotten Tunnels” I triggered the middle save point with just the double jump, and now I don’t think I have any way to extract myself from this situation.

    Loving the game though, enough that having to restart from scratch isn’t a dealbreaker for me.

    • Never mind, it just requires *really* precise timing. This game is all over the place in terms of difficulty, some areas are quite challenging and others have almost no hazards at all.

  16. I’ve tried EVERY magic word that I have seen on any post and am now completely stuck, the game is great, if only I could finish it!