Moirai is a free game that can be downloaded on Steam. It’s a short, yet delightful little experience that is hard not to recommend for the roughly 10 minutes of play-time that it offers.
It has simple, yet effective pixel art in a 2.5D style, along with an atmospheric soundtrack that effectively engages you in this world and its unique conceit – especially in the caves; the foreboding is palpable.
The game opens with the player character standing in the middle of a village, where an over-protective mother is warning her children of the dangers of the world.
A priest stands nearby.
I spoke to the mother who said something boring, and then I decided to head out-of-town, where a sign pointed me to a farm. I walked through the gate and found a flock of sheep with the ability to be poked. When you poke a sheep, it emits a pleasant bleating noise. Impressively, I heard about three different bleats from interacting with the sheep. “Baaaa” said one; “Baa-aaa” said another. The developers really did a good job with the sheep.
After poking some sheep, I moved on along a dirt path and met a Lumberjack. He looked at me with the dead-eyes of a man who desperately yearned for a spirited yarn with a stranger passing-by. However, I stopped myself from engaging with him, as I spied a lantern sitting on a tree stump to my right. Was it the Lumberjack’s? I had not talked to him yet – he was nothing to me. Seizing the opportunity, I swiped the lamp and ran away into a nearby cave before he could react.
Immediately stepping into the cave, I began to feel remorse wash over me as I considered what I had taken from the poor Lumberjack. Perhaps the lantern had belonged to a beloved grandparent, long gone of this world; or perhaps he saved his meagre earnings over a long period of time to buy this lantern that was now precious to him.
There was no going back now, from this path I had chosen…
“Come over here.” I heard a voice call to me, startling me out of my sombre musings.There sat a man not far from the cave entrance, though I hadn’t noticed him until now. Walking over to him, he told me something about a moaning coming from deeper within the cave, and not being able to go on due to poor eyesight. I rolled my eyes. Only the guilty explain, I thought to myself with an intense indifference towards this foppish man, rising within me. Suddenly, he piqued my interest as he presented me with a knife. “Who knows, you may need it” he said prophetically. I nodded with grim affirmation. I knew what needed to be done.
I turned away from this mysterious prophet and out of the cave – which obviously held no more secrets – and walked back to the field of sheep. I had been set upon the One True Path now by a stranger who had looked into my soul and seen that it was yearning for fulfilment. In an instant, we had been as close as brothers and our souls’ as intertwined as lovers; a shame that I would likely never see him again. Retribution would likely be swift against my crime of stealing the Lumberjack’s beloved lantern, and now…
… I was hesitating. This sheep, that had pleased me so with its pleasant bleating just moments before, was now a sharp stab away from its fated deliverance to the Ovine pastures in the sky.
I hit the Spacebar, and with a sharp red crack!, the deed was done. But it was not yet over.
I set upon the next beast, and the next, making quick work in dispatching them.
In my heart, I knew that the sheep were now happy. Released from their shackles of mortality, and now enjoying the freedom of the great fields above. I imagined them smiling down at me, bleating pleasantly.
Fulfilled, yet wary of being persecuted, I decided to go back to the village. Perhaps my deed would go unnoticed? A glimmer of light shone inside me now; perhaps I would be…rewarded? I could settle down and book-end this morose little tale.
However, my welcome was not that of a returning saviour, nor of a wanton criminal. I was only met by disappointing exclamations of surprise, and inaction, from these sedentary bumpkins.
Thankfully the sounds of the Ovine Deliverance had not pierced the walls of the cabins, and I found a warmer reception from the town Chef, though clearly he was suspicious of me still wielding the bloodied knife.
I desperately wanted to tell him the truth of my deeds. After all, what good is it being the Deliverer of Sheep, if you cannot boast about your grim deeds to an adoring townsfolk? But he wouldn’t have understood.
Only the man in the cave understood.
I thought about that great man for a while in the Chef’s cabin. He had first seemed so forlorn and pathetic, before revealing himself as the prophetic wonder that he was; who looked into my soul and fulfilled me utterly.
I pondered the human predilection of judging others.
Then the answer struck – children! They don’t judge others! They would probably think I was cool for stabbing a bunch of sheep!
Unfortunately, when I tried to talk to the children outside, their mother yelled at them to not talk to me. She didn’t understand. Who was she to judge a man covered in blood and wielding the Dagger of Ovine Deliverance?
But there was one last cabin, and inside I found a young girl.
In this young girl I found a kindred spirit. She also clearly enjoyed indulging in the pleasures of killing sheep, and was obviously disappointed that I had gotten to them before she and her Dad had. I wondered who the father she mentioned was, and if he was perhaps the great man who had set me on the One True Path?
I decided that he was.
**To be clear – Moirai is much more than the silliness that I have presented here, and I definitely recommend checking it out. Saying anymore is spoiling it, so as it’s free, just give it a go!