Some dialogue options lead to sluggish sequences in which ten text boxes deal with the question of whether or not to pick up a phone or open a door, only to ignore the player’s choice in the end. The lack of a ‘skip’ button during replays is also annoying. Rough edges like this and others hint to its status as a small-budget indie, but SELF remains a solid text experience and I found that its narrative stuck with me long after finishing all possible routes. However, as I alluded to at the start, this game isn’t really about finding all the endings — each branch on its own provides a unique look on contemporary society and an individual’s weakness… or strength.
SELF perfectly utilises the text-based RPG format to create a thrilling narrative in a confusing world, matched by a sinister aesthetic. I would recommend to players that value story over gameplay, however, as the bullet-dodging mini-games don’t offer any real challenge.
SELF is a story that I wanted to engross myself in more than anything. I felt for this child and wanted to do everything I could to help them. The game had me hooked in that way, but unfortunately, it squandered that enthusiasm away through some questionable storytelling devices and lackluster mini game sections. As purely a story experience, this is one I can recommend, if you can get through the broken-up design choice, but for those looking for anything else outside of a sorrowful and sinister puzzler, this is probably one you can leave behind.
If you’re a fan of interpreting the meaning behind dreams or stories, or if you like the puzzle aspects in piecing together understanding from a hodgepodge of randomness, then you might really enjoy SELF. But I think there are better options for text-based adventure games out there on the Switch. For the 2-3 hours it took me to complete every ending I don’t feel like it’s worth the time or money that could otherwise be invested into other things. Although a lot of the Kafkaesque story beats, like the father-son relationship and the surreal, absurdist scenarios the boy found himself in, were unique and initially interesting; SELF just didn’t have the metamorphosis it needed to turn into something greater.
From a game with this ambition, it's expected that the plot will be engaging and interesting but that's not the case with SELF. Rather, its soundtrack stands out the most and it's well worth listening to. Overall, SELF is a strange experience, one that may be worth a try but for which expectations shouldn't be too high.
SummarySELF is a suspenseful Kafkaesque text-based adventure game with simulation and puzzle mechanics. Could you seize the opportunity to find your father and your SELF back in this introspective journey?