Spencer Yan’s My Work Is Not Yet Done is an innovative and unconventional narrative-driven investigative horror game that pushes the boundaries of the survival and simulation genres. Combining elements of survival, simulation, and horror, this game delves deep into the exploration of the “imbrication and dissolution of human identities/meanings within uncanny wilderness,” as described on the project’s Github page. Through its immersive plot, players experience the final days of Avery, the last surviving member of a doomed hunt for a mysterious transmission source. The game’s unique mechanics involve performing complex acts of maintenance on environmental sensors while delving into journals and other found documents to uncover the truth behind Avery’s mission and the enigmatic signal itself.
One of the standout features of My Work Is Not Yet Done is its visually captivating aesthetic. The game’s dense, warping two-tone aesthetic creates a surreal and haunting atmosphere that draws players into its world. The shifting naturalistic sounds further enhance this immersive experience, often leaving players breathless with anticipation. The attention to detail in the game’s visuals and audio is truly remarkable, showcasing the talent and dedication of Spencer Yan.
While My Work Is Not Yet Done is praised for its intricate narrative and atmospheric design, there is one unexpected detail that has caught the attention of both players and game developers – the game’s simulation of bodily processes and excretion. In a cheeky Twix post, Yan revealed that the game meticulously tracks calorie consumption, as well as the presence of solids and liquids in Avery’s stomach, colon, rectum, and bladder. This information is then used to calculate Avery’s desire to urinate or defecate. Although most players may not directly encounter these aspects of the game, they serve a greater thematic purpose beyond mere authenticity or fidelity.
Yan explains that the complex recreation of bodily processes in My Work Is Not Yet Done serves as a thematic device to reflect the game’s exploration of “doomed attempts at communicating with and making sense of semiotically opaque systems.” Every level of interaction within the game is designed to invoke a sense of uncertainty through abstraction. Yan’s intention is to immerse players in an experience that mirrors the overwhelming noise and constant information overload of our lived experiences.
Through careful discernment and critical subtraction of excess information, players are encouraged to arrive at meaning within the game. Yan aims to diverge from the common practices of “lore-heavy” games that rely on connect-the-dots speculation. Instead, My Work Is Not Yet Done invites players to accept the necessary incompleteness of knowledge and interpretation. The survival element of the game serves as the framework through which players engage in this process, with hunger, thirst, fatigue, nausea, and discomfort acting as constant reminders of the material bodies that shape our existence.
The unconventional simulation of bodily functions in My Work Is Not Yet Done prompts a deeper examination of existentialism within the game. The essay on the game’s Github page muses on the interconnection between our physical bodies and our philosophical perspectives. It suggests that our bodily needs and functions, such as eating, drinking, sleeping, and passing waste, form the very foundation of our existence. By integrating these bodily processes within the gameplay experience, the game challenges players to confront the inseparable bond between the physical and the metaphysical.
The inclusion of bodily functions as a game mechanic is a rarity in the gaming industry. While notable exceptions exist, such as The Sims, Slime Rancher, and Death Stranding, games seldom bother to simulate excretion. Spencer Yan’s choice to incorporate this aspect in My Work Is Not Yet Done adds depth and realism to the overall experience, establishing it as a unique and thought-provoking addition to the genre.
Spencer Yan’s My Work Is Not Yet Done surpasses expectations by pushing the boundaries of narrative-driven horror games. Its immersive atmosphere, intricate storytelling, and unconventional simulation of bodily processes create a truly captivating and thought-provoking gaming experience. By challenging players to confront the uncertainties of communication and interpretation, the game prompts a deeper examination of existential themes. It is a testament to the creativity and innovation within the gaming industry, reminding us that even the most unexpected details can contribute to the overall richness of a gaming experience.