We can all get in our own heads, making things that are seemingly easy, that much more difficult. We know that it’s possible because we’ve done it before, but our mind just won’t let it happen, and regardless of how illogical it seems, that mental block creates an impasse. It’s not always easy to break through, and sometimes it never happens, but occasionally sitting down and giving ourselves a firm talking to, is just the push we need.
In Milk Inside a Bag of Milk Inside a Bag of Milk from Nikita Kryukov we set out on a psychological journey with our socially anxious and neurodivergent protagonist as they try to overcome their hang ups and mental barriers in order to complete a simple task: buying a bag of milk for their mother. It’s quite the mind bending ride, and here’s how it went:
Milk Inside a Bag of Milk Inside a Bag of Milk, despite its lengthy title, is a simple, straightforward game and in a lot of ways its visuals follow suit. That said, they do a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to communicating how the protagonist views the world. Its low-res, almost abstract or distorted aesthetics, combined with a blown out monochrome palette give you a sense of unease, even though much of what’s being depicted is ordinary, recognizable, scenery. Paired with the game’s atmospheric and slightly unnerving soundtrack, that sentiment is hammered home.
The scenery itself does change quite frequently, but because of the aesthetic, a lot of it feels the same. Even though you knew you were in front of a gas station, or browsing the refrigerated aisle once inside, the blur of pixels made it difficult to distinguish anything outside of that. Where it did help however was when you encountered some of the other characters. Because of those visual ambiguities it made them look non-humanoid, exemplifying how the main character might project their anxieties on the people they meet and the uncomfortable environment they find themselves in.
The oddest part of playing Milk Inside a Bag of Milk was its dialogue, but much like its visuals it also does an exceptional job of portraying the protagonist’s struggles. A lot of the time the writing seems rambly, and even off putting, but as soon as it seems to be getting out of control, you, a third person or the main character’s self conscience, will interject and try to steer the conversation back to the task at hand. Keep in mind though the way you choose to interject is how you direct the narrative.
You’ll be given choices to either berate the protagonist, or to encourage them. Respond negatively too often and the main character will give up, sending you into a failure state. Encourage them and they’ll be able to make it through to the end, and deliver their prize to their mother.
What made this interesting, despite its frankness, was that the negative responses were much more prominent and plentiful, while there would usually only be a single positive response. Again alluding to the fact that at times we can be easily discouraged, and at the same time, find it difficult to accept reassurance.
Milk Inside a Bag of Milk was a fairly short game with very basic mechanics, but one feature that stood out was your ability to freeform type some of the answers or choices. I’m not sure how extensive it was, but I did enjoy the fact that it recognized that I didn’t capitalize the “Y” in yes, when responding to a question. As benign as it seems, I do always enjoy little things like that. There weren’t really any extra features to speak of outside of that, but the game certainly didn’t suffer because of it.
Milk Inside a Back of Milk Inside a Bag of Milk is a tough recommendation. Not only was it visually abstract, its narrative could be a bit much at times. That said, as a curiosity I couldn’t help but be allured by it. It made me sit back and contemplate its meaning, and there’s something to be said about that. So, if you’re looking for a VN that isn’t much of a time investment, and does things a bit outside the box, then you might want to check it out! At $0.99 it’s definitely more than worth the leap of faith.
If you’re interested in checking out Milk Inside a Bag of Milk Inside a Bag of Milk, you can find it right now on Steam!