"Let me tell you a story."
Originally created over the course of 10 days for the SCREAMORTALITY game jam.
HIKEBACK is a short visual novel about trust, self-sabotage, and never-ending cycles. You play as a driver passing through a mountain road late at night, when you spot a hitchhiker flagging you down up ahead. How you proceed from there determines not only the fate of you and the wide-eyed stranger you meet, but your combined fates across multiple planes of existence. In a cycle that seems to torment you for INFINITY, how long will it take for you to finally arrive at the THRESHOLD? Will you find the better ending you seek? Or will you succumb to what fate has in store for you?
- 15k+ words
- A dark, surreal narrative inspired by campfire ghost stories, found footage horror films, and modern day fables
- Branching story paths that change with every ending
- 18 different endings (not including variants)
- An incredible original soundtrack by Sam Tudor inspired by games like Silent Hill and Oxenfree
- Free to play (although donations are always appreciated)
- Blood, sweat, and tears
--- BEFORE YOU PLAY:
Due to the nature of this game, there are limited opportunities to "save" your progress. In general, whenever you've been returned to the title screen, your progress has been "saved." Additionally, the web version will remember all of the endings you have received so far even if you close the tab.
Currently, the web version of the game suffers from lower audio/visual quality as well as some minor bugs due to the limitations of the software. However, it is still stable/playable, and the desktop version can be downloaded at any time.
Additionally, there is a "true" ending to this story. When the credits roll, you'll know that you've reached the end of the game.
If you're feeling stuck at any point and would like to know how to receive a particular ending, you can view the full endings guide here. [This guide contains spoilers.]
--- CONTENT WARNINGS:
This game contains instances of:
- Physical & Mental Abuse
- Some Flashing Images & Sudden, Loud Sounds
- Disturbing Visuals & Audio
- Strong Language
- Religious Themes
Although this game is told from the first-person and contains surreal elements, it has absolutely no basis in reality. All characters, events, and elements contained in the narrative are entirely fictional, and any relation to real-life occurrences is purely coincidental.
If you would like to read a more detailed list of content warnings that describes each of these instances in specific terms, you can view that list here. [This list contains spoilers.]
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my download isnt working
haven't played yet cause I've already been up all night playing other stuff but these reviews made me confident in playing so I'll probably play tomorrow!
This game is literally amazingggg. Im definitely gonna play this again to try and get all the endings. So glad I played this <3
Just got all the endings. All the 8s are so sad omg. I would love to see some kind of epilogue of our boys after ending 0. I don't think I can say this enough but I absolutely love this. Can't wait to see more of your work <3
Is there truly a good ending for any of us...?
ALSO ABSOLUTE MAGNIFICENT, I PLAYED IT FOR 3 HOURS STRAIGHT.
The second part of the three hour lp~ (cutted obviously). There's a third part, probably I'll put it in two days~ BUT OH THE TRAGEDY AND THEME (getting a little bit too sad at the final tick)
AND YES THE FINAL ONE, it requires some context from the previous because it's basically an exploration of various other endings and dialogs available in the game. Not all explored but save to say I've explored a lot! It's a very excellent game, the rollback serving as a practical, mechanic, and thematic object~ The layers and layers of dialog, story, and secrets. I absolutely love it. Would love to see that sequel you're working on!
This game is just amazing, i've got all the endings and i'm currently stuck trying to get the driver's name for the hiker; but nothing seems to work and it's so frustrating!it honestly helped me realize how the hiker must feel lolol, just going over and over trying to get something else, anything that can change it and get him his happy ending
I'm still really curious about wether or not is there a good ending for both of them, but i've taking a liking to our protags and just want them to be happy. Great job! i'll definitely look forward to your next games, keep it up!
btw, just a lil PS:is it okay with you if i ship them? just think they're kinda cute, but i won't if you're not comfortable with it
Oh my goodness what a game! I quite enjoyed this, originally I was hoping to put the hiker in the trunk(or at least make them bump their head when they got in the front seat lol) I was so frustrated with them, but then after the rollback, I wanted to protect them, help them get their happy ending. The driver, also surprised me on many levels, especially with him being a vigilante(I think that's the word I'm looking for going after that horrible man(who totally deserved it) he was catfishing.) I was wondering if you were ever going to make another story about 8's time in the facility(?), or if there can be a way to go and give HER a smack in the back of the head or anything lol. Once again wonderful game! ^_^
I really love this game a lot the dialogue the artwork everything but I’m trying to do the last couple endings what does it mean when the clock is “glitching out” I really want to do it but its confusing can someone help me?
binged this in an evening and have to go lie down and stare at the ceiling for a long while now thank you - absolutely AMAZING game, love LOVE the writing and the subtle variations you get after each ending while "repeating" the same stuff (like the slowburn realisation of "Oh There Is Something Very Wrong With This Man" re:the driver.........) - immediately dropkicking this game at my friends and telling them to play it. your character writing is SO delicious and i love the designs and it's all so heartwrenching yet you understand exactly why they both act the way they do,,,,,, and the LAYERS!!! SO MANY LAYERS TO THEM thank you so much for this game!!! super excited to hear there's a sequel in the works <3
Holy shitttt. This game is incredible. Started of hating the ever-loving crap out of the biker, then hating the ever-loving crap out of the driver, then begrudgingly accepting them both. This game is amazing. 10/10
this is genuinely one of the best games i've ever played, i honestly clicked on it cause i thought the character designs looked interesting but once i started playing, i got hooked and ended up spending hours trying to get all the endings and figure out the full story. every aspect of this game was so interesting and incredible to dive into, and i was taken through a roller coaster of emotions playing. you did an incredible job putting this together.
i am once again thinking about how cool this game is *cries*
god this game is so fucking cool
Interesting game. Haven't finished it but the story is very interesting, and a bit disturbing, which is good.
I just finished and got the nurture ending but oh my god this is one of those games that's going to stick with and haunt me for decades. The slow build up of the characters from seeing them as their archtypes (an 'innocent' driver and the hiker who murders him) to finding out how complex they are and what kind of story they have to tell was amazing!! It's one of those games I wish I could play for the first time all over again and it's truly underrated <3
what a brilliant use of persistents, and what a wonderful aesthetic! this writing was so raw and interesting. absolutely loved it!
What a cool game. A great idea executed VERY well. I enjoyed it quite a bit.
I played it for my Bloodcurdling Barrage, in which I do daily videos for all of October. I don't get to do visual novels often, and especially not ones so well written, so this was a real treat.
Cried while playing AND after finishing all the endings. It's such an interesting concept for a game and it's executed wonderfully. I'm no longer the same person I was before playing this, I'm going to go insane thinking about what happened to them after the true ending. Play this game, it's worth it.
oh my god that was SO GODDANG GOOD! i am not patience enough to play it through one more time so i only played the nuture ending, but it really satisfies me. i love it so much. thank you for this amazing story. i'd throw money at ur way if im not a broke college student
this was. amazing. this game is SO good!! aghh i love the story and when they were holding hands it was so sweet bc then AHAFLKJH i dont wnana spoil it!! this is SO good omg.
this is one of my favorite games of all time!!! i've played it twice now and i've gotten all the endings, and it's an absolute masterpiece!!! the characters are so complex and well-written, i love both the hiker and the driver a ton! the art style is so cool and i love the stylistic choice of keeping all the cgs two colors. it makes me cry every time!
i have noticed a sort of glitch though? after 8-o'clock, i can only play ending 12 until i reach the true endings. once again, great game!!
I just spent about two hours playing this game over and over until I got the true ending. It is absolutely fascinating and so lovingly crafted! I ADORE time loops, meta narratives, and stories that change over time, and this was not only right up my alley but exactly the kind of thing I look for in those stories. So many looping narratives are still limited, giving you only a few building variations, and those are still often fantastic, but this game just kept building on itself until it reached a satisfying conclusion that truly felt like it encompassed all those individual experiences. I loved how the game shifted as you completed enough of the endings, how more and more was revealed in each loop, how the story swapped between the two characters to give them both unique perspectives, how your understanding of the characters evolves over time.. and after all that, I still have a bunch of endings along the way to go back and find.
Everything about this project was gorgeous, from the art to the writing to the music and the mechanics. It was a joy to play and I'd love to come back sometime and see what else it has in store!
Out of curiosity, is there a specific reason why the character sprites are semi-transparent?
No I'm feeling that special hollowness that only this kind of sad story gives me... I'm not crying but I feel like I should be. I want the driver and the hiker to be okay... I ache
played through all the endings together with a couple friends after one reccomended it to me and DAMN this is good. genuinely tense atmosphere with super strong messages and a lot of room for analyzation- id gotten genuinely invested to the characters by the end, which is a feat for something that lasted two hours. super super underrated <3
this is based on the story of the scorpion and the frog, right? i think i read a similar version of it once, where they were talking about how one cant exist without the other. loved the concept and execution of this!
oh wait, i didnt see the 'thank you for playing' thing right there. duh. whoops! still love it
ok i got most of the endings but im reading the ending guide and the last 2 endings say when your clock is glitching what does that mean? and im playing trying to do the denial ending and it 8:00 but its not giving me the option to rewind do you think you can help? btw i love the art for this game :>
Gotta say this was pretty cool. I really like the concept of replaying over & over while slowly getting more options at hand. The only thing that kinda confused/annoy me was the fact that the driver = me & stranger = you (nvm the naming thing makes more sense the longer you play so I take this complaint back). Just seemed confusing when I was getting dialogue from both at the same time tbh. Other then that I loved it every step of the way.
This game seriously inspired me. I hope to make a VN game with a similar "roll back" concept, I hope I can do it!
Clown, your writing in this was phenomenal!
"but now we shall both surely die" said the driver
"lol" said the hitchhiker, "nope"
I'm really simping for the hiker though w o w
i love the ending where youre just straight up like "no im leaving you on the road" lol
i love allllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll the endings
Oh my GOD. This was fricking FANTASTIC. I saw that ManlyBadassHero made a video on this game and I had to play it for myself first and I'm so glad I did. The art, the atmosphere, and the themes in the dialogue too. Everything about this story was short, and sweet, and SO well executed. I'll have to make sure to follow your other projects. Keep up the amazing work!!!!
I did the same thing, I started watching the video but then I decided I wanted to give it a try first and I don't regret it at all, it's an amazing game!
i love this game so much! i had so much fun collecting all endings. i love this creepy vibe and how dying in this game was so calm and obvious. thank you for making this
i played this with my friend this evening and i'm absolutely obsessed with it. it is absolutely incredible, and blew me out of the water. seriously. it means so much to me and i'm just... i don't even have words. thank you for making this.
Is there a number higher than infinity? Because on a scale of one to five that's what this game is, the characters were stunning, the art and music is phenomenal and the story is amazing. I genuinely don't know how else to describe this game other than absolutely flawless. I played this game three times after getting all of the endings and I don't regret a millisecond of it.
THIS COMMENT CONTAINS SPOILERS
I squeezed my chest in an attempt to cry in a different form of tears than the water that commonly falls out of my eyes.
I failed, I cried.
I felt twice the pain I believe I was supposed to and somehow it felt reassuring. This game strongly conveys all the characters' emotions, and I, for one, was not planning on missing a single display of them. In a story where the desired ending remains untouched by explicit mentions of death yet death depicted enough to be clearly understood, I wished for life. I hoped so strongly that the hiker would hold their head back up, I hoped so strongly that the hiker would have a good ending where they run away with no downside, but oh, what a lesson I have learnt at 1am on a Wednesday: no matter how hard you try, you can't always have a good ending.
Honestly I couldn't get enough of this game. Somehow I feel like I've been punched in the face repeatedly, but warmly embraced immediately following that.
This game was a way for people to not only hear the voices of these characters, but to listen to them scream and demand better. A better world, a better life, a better ending. And God was it powerful to hear them. There is nothing more that I wish then to know how the story of these two will end and while I know that wish may never come to pass you brought us on a journey that truly was once in a life time. Thank you so much for letting us into the darkness and giving us the privilege to watch them crawl into the light. Truly this was a tale that I never wanted to end and I know it will stick with me for years to come.
Though I am kind of hoping for a sequel I understand if this is the only end we will see. It was beautiful, powerful, and unmatched. Amazing work.
This game is totally amazing. I love the plot and dialogue, and the pacing was spot on. The subtle details and changes that helped keep your attention were really well done, it could have easily gotten stale at any point with this type of story but it never did. Looking forward to more of your work!