They Will Not Return

by John Ayliff profile

Science Fiction

Return to the game's main page

Reviews and Ratings

5 star:
4 star:
3 star:
2 star:
1 star:
Average Rating:
Number of Ratings: 12
Write a review

1-13 of 13

- autumnc, October 20, 2021

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A helper robot navigates a disaster-filled future, October 21, 2020

They Will Not Return is a game that follows a helper robot in a post-apocalyptic setting, with choice-based interaction and some surprising shifts in its narrative flow.

The first half of the story offers a piercing look into how the peace and routine of serving others morphs into a sense of desolation as time passes, entropy sets in, and it becomes increasingly clear that things will never return to how they were before. The decision to have the reader revisit and explore the same location before and after the disaster is powerful, especially when presented through the perspective of a helper robot who isnít equipped to deal with these eventualities.

The second half of the game shifts to a more standard adventure quest that navigates through a few scenes offering some light puzzles and tidbits of information about the fate that befell the world, with a final set of choices that determine the ending. It's unfortunately a bit at odds with the first half of the story, due to the sudden shift in tone and slightly formulaic quality.

I'd rate the first half the game higher than the second, but overall it was still an enjoyable exploration on the passage of time.

The Gaming Philosopher
Masters and Servants

Given that all the demands of craft are satisfied, it makes sense to judge the story in terms of, well, the story, and especially the way it develops its themes. The main idea is surely the difficulty and importance of going from a life of servitude to a life of freedom. The protagonist is the ultimate servant, has a hard time coming to grips with the idea that there are no more masters to serve, and then gets to reprogram itself to be its own master. This is fine in itself, but I donít understand the gameís obvious attempts to link this theme to contemporary capitalism.

You wrote this review - Revise it | Add a comment

- Jacoder23, May 7, 2019

- IanAllenBird, April 6, 2019

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A Bradbury-esque robot story about independence and free will, March 31, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This game involves a series of vignettes that can only be completed in one way, followed by a long open sequence of puzzles and choices with consequences.

You play as a robot managing a household for 3 humans. You learn about the humans and the world in general over time.

Nearer the end, you gain the power to significantly affect your world and the world of others.

I feel like the choice structure was a bit weak in this game, with the majority of the game (including a late puzzle sequence) solvable by lawnmowering. I think it could have benefited from more tradeoff-style choices and delayed effects.

However, the lovely worldbuilding and vivid descriptions make this a worthwhile game to play.

- roboman, March 18, 2019

- Spike, January 29, 2019

- Greg Frost (Seattle, Washington), December 21, 2018

- AKheon (Finland), November 20, 2018

- CW, October 24, 2018

- Jens Leugengroot (Germany), October 15, 2018

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A PC named PC, October 14, 2018
by Sobol (Russia)

The owners of the house are gone; they will not return. But the housekeeping robot still continues to clean dust, make food for them, trim their lawn... Sounds familiar? Yes, the melancholic first part of the game is basically Ray Bradbury's There Will Come Soft Rains. But then the author takes the premise in a new direction.

They Will Not Return is a short science fiction story in the classical spirit: you should play it if you like Bradbury and Asimov. It's the third game by John Ayliff that features an AI protagonist; and his AIs are wonderful - not too humanlike, not too machinelike, touching and sympathetic. (When playing Seedship, I cared about the player character as much as about the success of its mission.)

1-13 of 13 | Return to game's main page