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Aitor Bermejo San Jose
Aitor Bermejo San Jose

They Breathe

They Breathe: A Short but Atmospheric Indie Game

They Breathe is an indie game developed by The Working Parts for Xbox Live, PC, iOS and Android, and was originally created using Adobe Flash. It's a short game, taking no more than half an hour to complete, but it's a remarkable study in atmosphere. You play as a frog who swims down into a submerged forest where something strange and terrible has happened. On the way you'll have to rescue your brethren from drowning, as well as avoiding hostile aquatic moose.

The game has a simple but effective art style, with hand-drawn HD graphics and minimal sound effects. The game relies on the player's curiosity and imagination to figure out the rules of the mysterious ecosystem, where nothing is as it first seems, and where everyone is after the same precious resource oxygen. The game also has a surreal and dark tone, with disturbing implications and imagery that will haunt you long after you finish it.

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Gameplay and Story

The gameplay of They Breathe is simple but challenging. You control the frog with the arrow keys or the mouse, and you can swim up or down, left or right. You can also dash by holding the space bar or the left mouse button, which allows you to move faster and push objects or enemies away. However, dashing also consumes oxygen, which is represented by a blue bar at the top of the screen. If the bar runs out, you will start to suffocate and lose health, which is represented by a red bar below the oxygen bar. To replenish oxygen, you have to swim to the surface and breathe air bubbles that appear randomly. You also have to avoid obstacles and enemies that can harm you or steal your oxygen.

The story of They Breathe is told through gameplay and environmental clues. There are no dialogues or text in the game, so you have to pay attention to what is happening around you and draw your own conclusions. The game starts with the frog jumping into a lake that leads to a sunken forest. As you swim deeper, you encounter other frogs that are either dead or dying, as well as strange creatures that resemble moose heads with tentacles. These creatures are hostile and will try to attack you or steal your oxygen. You can either fight them or avoid them, but either way, you have to be careful not to run out of oxygen yourself.

As you progress further into the forest, you discover more about the nature of these creatures and their origin. You also learn more about what happened to the forest and why it is flooded. The game has a twist ending that reveals the true identity of the moose heads and their queen, as well as your role in the ecosystem. The game also has multiple endings depending on your actions and choices throughout the game.

Reception and Analysis

They Breathe has received positive reviews from critics and players alike, who praised its atmosphere, originality, and storytelling. The game has a score of 9/10 on Steam, where it has been described as \"a masterpiece of horror\", \"a hidden gem\", and \"a must-play for fans of indie games\". The game has also been featured on several YouTube channels and websites, such as Markiplier, GameGrumps, Destructoid, and TV Tropes.

The game has been analyzed by various commentators who have explored its themes, symbolism, and meaning. Some of the topics that have been discussed include:

  • The game's use of water as a metaphor for life, death, and transformation.

  • The game's commentary on environmental issues, such as pollution, deforestation, and climate change.

  • The game's exploration of survival instincts, morality, and empathy.

  • The game's subversion of expectations, genre conventions, and tropes.

  • The game's psychological impact on the player and their emotions.

They Breathe is a game that can be interpreted in many different ways, depending on the player's perspective and experience. It is a game that challenges the player to think beyond what they see and hear, and to question their own assumptions and actions. It is a game that offers a unique and memorable experience that will stay with you long after you finish it.


They Breathe is a short but atmospheric indie game that deserves more attention and recognition. It is a game that proves that you don't need a big budget, a long duration, or a complex gameplay to create a compelling and immersive game. It is a game that showcases the power of creativity, imagination, and storytelling. It is a game that you should play if you are looking for something different, original, and unforgettable.




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