A downloadable visual novel for Windows and macOS
an interactive novel about identity, roleplay, and dreams
Enter the memories of Raine as she explores the text-based world of VerdaMUCK, a simulation of the old network within the vast cerebrally-interconnected network of the near future. Meanwhile, a mysterious individual known only as The Navigator exposes the truths of the Cerenet as a conspiracy-in-the-making begins to unfold.
- An interactive reading experience split between two character perspectives
- Between 4-6 hours of play, depending on reading ability
- Full soundtrack written by Lena Raine
- Additional music by Christa Lee
- Original art by Dataerase
- Immersive sound design by 2 Mello
- Computer running Windows or MacOS
Writing, Design, Programming, Music
Maddison Morgenstern (Dataerase)
- Game runs at 2x speed on 120hz monitors. This is a bug with the engine & will be fixed as soon as GameMaker Studio 2 updates to fix it.
- Switching between Fullscreen & Windowed can cause shaders to apply incorrectly.
- Fix: Restart game with intended screen mode for shaders to apply correctly.
- Some laptops may run at a slower-than-intended speed.
- Resolutions lower than 1920x1080 may scale oddly at full screen.
- Fix: Try running windowed & manually scaling until it improves.
|Genre||Interactive Fiction, Visual Novel|
|Tags||Abstract, artificial-intelligence, Atmospheric, GameMaker, glitch, LGBT, Minimalist, Sci-fi, Typing|
|Mentions||itch.io Recommends: games you can get fo..., ESC's creator opens up about the game an...|
Click download now to get access to the following files:
ESC - Windows x86 73 MB
ESC - OSX 78 MB
ESCISM (ESC Original Soundtrack) Lena Raine.zip 64 MB
if you pay $5 USD or more
- Updated InstallersMay 19, 2018
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one of the best ever. absolutely please play this
I stumbled upon this at random, tbh, but as I read I kept being more and more impressed with this gem I looked up its creator and had a nice surprise xD Seems that Lena Raine is as talented at writing than composing :)
One of the most interesting things I've seen on this plateform!
best ost ever. perception shift is the best song ive ever heard. get the game. story is great.
yesss i found lena raine's gammme!
This novel is fantastic
This is a beautiful story about philosophy, and about storytelling, and about how both of those are tied into identity. I've been browsing itch.io looking for short games to play to take my mind off things, but this game is one that puts my mind on a lot of things.
I didn't expect the story to go the way it did, or many of the twists along the way, but it all flowed naturally and painted such a compelling picture. I think a lot about thoughts, and about identities and "truths", and watching all of that come together in the game's philosophical conclusion was an incredible experience.
As a person who likes to write and philosophize, thank you for creating a game that tells such an interesting story about writing and philosophizing. I don't tend to dream, but this game is the sort of thing I think I would dream of.
I thought for a long time what to write about this game, but I just cant find the words that would describe what I felt while playing this game. Everything about it is just... wow. The writing is fantastic, the characters feel so real, the story and themes were intriguing and exciting the whole time, the music and sound effects were absolutely fantastic. Just... everything was amazing.
I never played a game with a story so complex and confusing that, well, actually made sense as I was playing. I felt like the game was guiding me to discover the twists and revelations before they happened and once they happened it felt amazing.
There´s one line in particular that had me legit screaming-laughing of surprise, excitement and that feeling of figuring out the twist before it happened. For me what that single line represents is how amazingly well done this game is, it takes everything I have talked about and turns it up to 100. Of course I dont wanna spoil anything so ill just say its timed (Intentionally?) to the song 'Perception Shift'
Thank you for this unique experience
A striking story that will stay with me for some time, what fascinating wonderful experience. Thank you Lena.
This is a lovely piece of work that I recently finished playing. Everything about this story captivates me, especially the characters, who feel amazingly real. The dialogue was well-written, well-paced and I could almost close my eyes and picture everyone right in front of me.
There are multiple themes explored in this game, and I love the ideas of self-made identities, dreams, and creativity. It really makes you think, and what I admire is that the game doesn't spoon-feed the messages to you. You have to stop and draw conclusions through seemingly random connections and lines of text. The story prompts you to stop at every turn and analyze it as the twists and turns keep coming. At no point is this game ever predictable, boring or rushed.
I will be carrying the messages of this game with me for a long time.
Thank you for creating a vivid and thought-provoking piece of art.
Extremely good. Thank you.
ps is this isekai
Wow. Just wow. I chose not to pay for this, but after playing a bit THIS IS THE BEST GAME(?) EVER!!!
this was amazing. i cant even describe how i feel but all i can say is thank you.
easily the best piece of media i've consumed in a long time, thank you
Trying to describe my three playthroughs of ESC in the past week would be a disservice to Lena Raine's work, and especially to anyone who hasn't already played it. For starters, there are layers upon layers of meta and spoiler potential that put the movie Inception to shame. I'd hate to bump something out of place trying to tiptoe around the details.
More importantly, ESC is much more than a mere game or a novel. It's an experience, one you really should be part of. There's a role for you, the player, and it's probably bigger than you think.
I will warn you that settling down to ESC is like trying to recall a childhood memory, or piecing together the bits of a dream. The plot is tough to navigate. You're going to get confused. You might not fully understand everything the first time through.
I sure didn't.
But this is totally normal. It tells you so, itself. And it's pretty genius how that confusion--your confusion--becomes part of the whole experience. Lena Raine's got some serious artistic meta skills, and they're not limited to music.
Anyhow, the overall confusion of ESC's story all but begs for a second playthrough. The first half was convoluted before, but now makes much more sense. And once you re-read it, you realize that you hadn't gotten a few things right in the last half. You keep bouncing back and forth between what were once seemingly random elements. You're making connections. Ideas are born, which reach out and grab new elements, which change the idea, which...
Yeah, I'm rambling now, aren't I?
At first, experiencing ESC reminded me of reading Vonnegut for the first time. But now I think it's more akin to a poem. You don't simply finish it and walk away. It's meant to be revisited, explored, and savored. It defines you as much as you define it.
And if it gets hold of you the way it did me. Well, let's just say that this was probably the closest I'll ever come to enlightenment in my lifetime.
I'm not kidding. ESC is that good.
Incredibly interesting and well worth $5. Everything feels kinda disconnected and weird for a long while (in an engaging "I need to learn wtf is going on" way), but it wraps up in a very satisfying conclusion.
I wish there was some community hub I could go to discuss the story with others, but I imagine ESC is too small a phenomenon to really have such a thing, which is a shame.
Snickers " (OOC) omg I just started and I must say I love typing and having it be your words lol"
Did it work with Ubuntu (using wine) ?
First off, I absolutely loved this game! Definitely worth a play.
Also: Linux users, I have good news! Though there isn't a Linux port (I can understand the lack of developer resources) this game runs fine in WINE. The audio crackles a bit (I don't think that's intentional at least?), but it's very playable.
Use my Lutris installer for the game, it sets some PulseAudio options to also make the audio crackling go away. And yes, it runs perfectly!
I really enjoyed playing ESC! Thank you for creating it, Radical Dreamland.
I'll copy/paste my thoughts from elsewhere on the Internet here:
I recently played ESC, a visual novel by Lena Raine.
ESC emulates roleplaying in the text-based multi-user dungeons (MUDs) that became possible in the late 1970s and 1980s as computers became networked. Part of ESC is firmly planted in this history. Everything about ESC's audio and visuals–from the glitched 1-bit texture startup screen to the simulated CRT flicker to the subtle whrrr-ing and clicks of moving computer parts–evokes a sense of a bygone era of computing.
While interacting with strangers on the Internet via text was very much a formative part of my adolescence, the audio and visuals and core gameplay mechanic were largely foreign to me. I didn't really start spending serious time on the family computer until we had an LCD screen and I've never played a MUD. Still, once ESC got going, the conversations it emulated felt familiar and inviting. It felt like the adolescence I might have had under just slightly different conditions.
In contrast to its audio and visuals being firmly planted in the past, ESC's story is set in the future. There is a curious duality to this, a theme that ESC embraces and continues to explore throughout. ESC constantly alternates between the past and the future, between two distinct character perspectives, between roleplay ("in-character") and who we really are ("out-of-character"). It's delightfully engaging at times, intentionally disorienting at others, and thoughtfully crafted from start to finish.
The storytelling is enjoyably imaginative, deftly playing with its subject matter throughout. ESC takes you on a 4–6 hour journey, during which the text you type into your flickering command prompt will carry you from a lush forest to a mysteriously empty city and beyond. What starts as an emulation of an archetypal MUD transforms into an introspective, metaphorical exploration of self-identity, roleplaying, and technology. It indirectly asks the reader to consider how these themes shape one another in the narrative that is ESC and, more broadly, in real life. I personally liked this quite a bit as these are questions I think about frequently.
The soundtrack is compelling and effectively enhances the core reading experience without ever overpowering it. As someone who has written music to accompany words read from a computer screen, I can attest that this subtlety is more easily understood than executed, and it suggests a level of mastery on Raine's part as a composer.
In all, I very much enjoyed ESC, and would solidly recommend it to anyone with an interest in MUDs looking for a thoughtful, engaging visual novel experience.
Hi... I was excited to see and hear this project so I paid the $10 and received the 3 files however, being a Mac user... the .dmg is not opening. I get the error message: "The following disk image couldn't be opened: ESC.dmg (Reason: no mountable file systems)"
I don't represent Radical Dreamland, but I am a macOS user who is enjoying ESC very much.
I googled the error you're getting and the Internet is suggesting that the .dmg file may have been corrupted during the download. Hopefully re-downloading the dmg resolves the problem for you!
I downloaded it a second time to no avail... same exact issue. I guess I'll try it again?
The third attempt failed as well...
...too bad. Seemed like it might've been cool to experience.
This is the closest thing I could find to a generic troubleshooting thread on the matter: https://deciphertools.com/blog/2017-10-02-no-mountable-file-systems/
Hope this helps, as ESC was a very enjoyable visual novel experience!
EDIT: Also, some people in other threads elsewhere suggested it might be tied to the version of macOS used to package the dmg vs. the version of macOS on your computer. I'm running 10.13.6 and was able to open the dmg; what version are you running?
EDIT#2: It looks like this might be caused by the dmg having been packaged using APFS (Apple's new filesystem), which would result in it not mounting on a Mac using HFS+ (Apple's old filesystem). If this is the cause, the options would be:
A. Upgrade your OS and ensure that you opt into APFS
B. Try this driver (at your own risk) that would allow you to mount APFS images in HFS+
C. Kindly request that Radical Dreamland repackage the dmg to use HFS+ so it is more broadly compatible with more Mac computers
That's what it was!! I have two Macs. My 2009 Mac Pro can only upgrade to El Capitan (OSX 10.11.6) but my MacBook Pro has High Sierra (OSX 10.13.6) and ESC opened up on the MBP! Thanks... don't know why I didn't think of that!?
*UPDATE: It works just fine on my 2009 Mac Pro too. Since I have them networked together in my music studio, I just dragged the ESC game into the applications folder on my Mac Pro (from the MBP) and it played without issue. The .dmg just wouldn't open on the older Mac...
As someone who grew up in a very real way with online roleplaying, this hit home in a lot of ways. Suspect I'll be haunted by this for a while.
This was a fantastic game! I enjoyed playing it and made sure to recommend it to others who like visual novels. :)
I think I remember you posting something on twitter about being able to download the soundtrack if you paid $10+. If that's accurate, where would we go about downloading it? I didn't see it in the local files, library, or reciept.
Thanks so much!! You should be able to download a zip file of the mp3s from the files if you're on the website version of the game page.
how long is this game and does it have alternative endings?
4-6 hours, and there's only one ending.
Maybe it's a basic thing, but I didn't think of it for a good 10 or so minutes while I was trying to figure out what was up- if anyone else is having issues with how the text is displaying (it was super hard to read for me on my 2015 MacBook Pro; just upgraded to High Sierra today to run the game because the dmg wouldn't open till I did that fwiw), switch to the bold font and it'll be ok.
This was so fucking amazing and I'm glad I got to experience this. My favorite part was definitely the representation so nicely and subtly worked in that's really important as well as really wonderful to me. I'd say who my favorite character was but I don't really want to spoil her for anybody that happens to be reading down here. I hope this makes it to plenty of people and I'll do my best to spread this to anyone who would enjoy an introspective story that ties into how people express themselves and the validity of that, no matter who you are or how your brain works.
I guess I could at least say that a certain character reminds me of a certain character from Xenogears and that was interesting to see.
Thanks so much! Trying my best to get the word out for sure ^^
Hello! Any chance you'll release a Linux/Ubuntu version? Pretty sure there are a few of us who would be excited to play. Reeeeaaal into the soundtrack, btw.
Hey Ben. Unfortunately I do not have the resources to do a Linux port & so there's no plans at this time.
Ah, okay. Thanks!
Although this is kinda late, the game runs perfectly in WINE. If you use my Lutris installer, you can install the game easily and get perfectly smooth sound as well.
Since it's a GameMaker game, I think the method used to get Deltarune running natively on Linux would also work here: https://www.reddit.com/r/Deltarune/comments/9wizh3/deltarune_running_on_linux_natively/
Basically, take a Linux GameMaker game on the same version of the engine and put this game's files into it, replacing everything except the "runner" program.
(This can be done by anyone who owns a copy of ESC - Lena doesn't need to do anything to make this work.)
(I just noticed the words on ratings only show up to the creator, so I'm copying my review here)
This has been one of the most fun and engaging experiences I've had in a long while!
The big highlight here is the story and characters. They're incredibly well written, likeable and the pacing is spot on. You literally cannot drop it once you start. If you are, like me, into cyberpunk-ish thematic, MMOs and MUDs, philosophical grokking peppered with sarcastic humour, this will scratch all your itches.
Audio is about 50% in this game: the music score is delicious, intense and works directly with the story; the sound effects and mixing give the story a sense rythym and pacing and makes the whole thing a lot more immersive. I am glad I held out from listening to the OST before finishing the game, because every time a new song comes a long is a delight.
The art and visual effects are gorgeous, and provide the sort of mental backdrop for a text-based game like this that, while not exactly necessary, elevates the whole thing to another level.
The only criticism I have are the controls: random-typing gets tiresome quickly, there isn't a single tappable key that lets you signal the game you want to continue (sometimes the game expects any key, sometimes expects Enter), holding any key takes too long to start, and the Ctrl-skip key is good, but sometimes skips too fast on a large chunk of text, specially when there's a scene with only one paragraph in it. I had to go back a few times on a chapter because I've accidentally skipped an entire scene.
All in all, the game feels like a very well thought out experience, and is a steal for the suggested price of 10 USD. There's replay value here; the first play will leave you with more questions than answers.
Now excuse me while I try to get all my friends to play this so we can discuss theories :)
Question: Does the game include flashing/flickering? If so, how much/how often? Asking due to accessibility issues. Considering buying it but I want to make sure I'll be able to play it without troubles. Thanks!
Hi! There's no rapid flashing/flickering such as it would cause any adverse reactions. The only intense transition that comes as a surprise is in the chapter The Laughing Sun & smash cuts to red with a gradual fade.
Otherwise, there's a number of accessibility options such as disabling scanlines & alternate fonts.
That's great news, thanks a lot! :) I wish more developers added such accessibility options. <3
This was a great story, told through fantastic writing, strong characterization, and an immersive and innovative visual and audio presentation.
the description says 4-6 hours of play, but it fails to include the time i'll need to process what i've read and play it again to understand it more deeply
Thank you for this amazing experience.
Thank you for playing!! 🙏