Please, don’t touch anything is unclassifiable. It’s a proper gaming UFO that doesn’t fit any genre. Let’s just say, to make it easier, that it is an office job simulator. But not your regular kind of office. No, you’re apparently an employee of a nuclear test bunker and your daily life consists of sitting at a desk and watching over a city on an old screen.
The game starts when your colleague asks you to watch over his desk for a few minutes while he goes to the bathroom. He has one simple instruction though: don’t touch anything. Oh well, thanks for the advice buddy but I’ll pass. I mean, no offence, but I gotta press that big red button in the middle of your desk to see what it does. Will it launch a missile to annihilate the city? It should, I mean that’s why the button is red. This is nuclear bunker 101, no? I need to know. Let’s press it.
Please, don’t touch anything isn’t really a videogame per se. It’s more like a complex combination puzzle with multiple solutions or in this case, endings. Pressing the red button uncovers more buttons, numbered or coloured pads, levers, switches and more. With the help of the instructions poster on the wall and your own sense of curiosity, your goal is to figure out every combination possible, all of which lead to a different ending. Crack the code(s), crack the game. There are more than 20 different endings, many of which are clever pop culture references, and some combinations are easier to find than others. Make some coffee, grab a notepad and a pen, you’ll need it.
Just as much as you will get a great sense of accomplishment throughout the game when you crack a combination, you will also get unintentional flukes. On several occasions I somehow solved one of the sequences by randomly clicking a few buttons, which I guess is unavoidable in a puzzle game. But the satisfaction of success mostly comes from discovering a combination after spending time logically deducing its solution, but not knowing what you did or how you did can be very frustrating! You can’t really keep track of what you’ve done either as the other combinations might involve the same mechanisms in a different order, so maintaining an idea of what else needs to be done proves difficult.
I know it might sound like everything is based on luck in this game but don’t get me wrong, the majority of the different combinations require patience and a lot of thinking. The feeling of accomplishment you get when you solve a puzzle is quite thrilling and all you’ll want to do after getting the first ending is to discover all the others. While the gameplay and core mechanics are very basic, you will spend the biggest part of your time with the game on your notepad trying to decrypt the brain teaser that is this desk.
Visually, Please, don’t touch anything is equally as simplistic, but that is part of its charm. Adding lot of animations or action on-screen wouldn’t add anything to the game that isn’t already there. The cool pixel art style definitely creates an authentic, old-school feeling to the game that is also perfectly captured in its soundtrack. Blinch mixes the warmth sound of his synths in his chiptune compositions to set a gloomy yet beautiful atmosphere, surprisingly emotive and nostalgic. Hours after closing the application, the music still resonates in my mind and all I want to do is to launch the game again, close my eyes and go on a weird electronic journey. Special mention to the tracks ”Screen Off” and “Reversed” which I kept on listening to over and over while writing this review.