Not Not – Not Not Too Confusing

Not Not is a brain teaser game aimed at destroying your brain’s ability to think and, ultimately, make you doubt yourself as an intelligent human.

In Not Not you are given rapid fire instructions for which direction to swipe on the screen. The ascetic is based on a strangely white anthropomorphic figure running along a cube. Whether the game is trying to create some kind of Sisyphean nightmare or not is unclear, but the visuals are only there so you have something to look at other than gigantic words reading “LEFT” or “RIGHT”.

The first few challenges are simple enough; left, up, down, the usual kind of simon says instruction. While playing you will gradually develop a feeling of superiority, as if you were an adult that has walked in to a Kindergarden class. “Pssh”, you might scoff, “This Simon Says game is so easy, I’m going to easily win against this room of 4 year olds”. Your triumphant moment of victory will be quickly snatched away however when, suddenly, the game asks you to go “Not left”.

Your triumphant moment of victory will be quickly snatched away however when, suddenly, the game asks you to go “Not left”.

Immediately, the brain is drawn to go left and then… it’s all over.

The aim of Not Not is to confuse and befuddle and it does this very well. It alternates sequences of rapid fire understandable commands with sporadic randomness. “Nothing”, “Not Nothing”, “Not Left” and “Blue”, with the last one having you cry out in frustration because you didn’t even realize there were colours now.

Misdirection is a common theme in brain teaser games, especially on mobile wherein a game doesn’t have a lot of cpu power to do really in-depth confusion or puzzles. In Not Not, the misdirection is essentially yelling what it wants you to NOT do, then silently enjoying your panic as your primitive monkey brain tries to understand what you’re supposed to do.

The idea is simplistic, yet interesting. It’s quite interesting to watch someone else play Not Not, enjoying an overwhelming sensation of schadenfreude while your friend struggles and hates themselves.

However, a mobile game needs to actually be fun. There needs to be a regular feeling of satisfaction in completing a level or overcoming an obstacle. In Not Not, there isn’t really ever a feeling of fun, there’s just the sensation of being out of breath (mentally speaking) and hateful of yourself.

It’s quite interesting to watch someone else play Not Not, enjoying an overwhelming sensation of schadenfreude while your friend struggles and hates themselves.

The best puzzles are ones that require careful thought and, when completed, give the player a sense of satisfaction, both at the completeness of having finished something and at their own intelligence. The best games are often the same way.

Not Not gives the player frustration, irritation and deep doubt that maybe, just maybe, you’re not actually as smart as you thought you were. That is an absolutely horrifying realization that no game should have the power to inspire.

In the end, the player is in the same position as the little white man running along the cube – trapped in a Sisyphean nightmare, doubting their very existence and wondering what kind of cruel God would allow such suffering?

As an allegory for life, it serves as a poignant reminder of the bleakness of existence. As a game, Not Not is far too not not frustrating. The game is available on Android and iPhone.

Sam Eskenazi: Sam is a YouTuber, Streamer & Games Journalist. He loves to cook and listen to the sound of his own voice, ideally at the same time.