Play the game here.
Achievement Unlocked has a simple goal for the player: collect all of the achievements as quickly as possible. Some are simple, such as “Stay alive for 30 seconds” or “Die 50 times”. Some are tricky, like “Paint every block” and “Turn the elephant orange”. And then there are the ridiculous, such as “Load the game” and “Play the first level”. A large portion of the achievements fall under this last group. For example, in the time it has taken me to write this much, I have left the game running idle. I have not moved the elephant at all. I currently have 24% of the achievements. Looking through the comments of the game, you can unlock about 50% without pressing the left arrow key.
Most of the challenge in the game stems from trying to figure out what all of the achievements are. There’s a list on the right side of the screen with all of the achievement names. However, as you scroll through them all (which also nets an achievement), most of the names are cryptic. For example, What does “Triple Play Pit” need me to do? Or “Stalagmite”? Or “Meaning of Life”? (That one is actually a reference to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but if you haven’t heard of it before, you’ll be completely stumped). Luckily, there’s a link to a walkthrough in the game, in case you get stumped. Once you unlock all of the achievements, you have won the game. Your prize? An achievement!
But what’s the point of the game? Why make a game about collecting achievements? What this game is demonstrating is that many games today are trying to substitute achievements for actual gameplay. What I mean by this is that some games today are trying to replace fun with achievements. If you finished a game that was mediocre and had no achievements, there would be no real urge to keep playing. Now throw in an achievement for “Completing the game twice”. More players are going to play the game again solely for this one achievement. Achievement Unlocked satirizes this concept; who needs gameplay when you have achievements? Imagine an actual game with the same level design as this and the whole goal of the level is to get to the upper left corner. That level wouldn’t take very long. By throwing achievements into specific levels, games encourage the player to spend a longer time on this level, extending playtime. Now, achievements by themselves don’t do much. If the only incentive is to just collect achievements, not many players are going to spend extra time collecting them. However, if players are encouraged to collect them, such as through points, players will inevitably play the game longer. They will want to have more points than their friends, and collecting achievements themselves become a sort of game.
The automatic achievements found in Achievement Unlocked also demonstrate a trend today. In the rush for games to have a minimum number of achievements (like 360 games require), sometimes, the achievements seem forced and are pretty much given to the player automatically. For example, in Assassin’s Creed 2, the player will get an achievement for being born in the game. The player gets this achievement for, essentially, watching the intro. Another example would be in Atelier Totori. Within the first FIVE dialogue boxes in the whole game, the player receives an achievement. (I’m not joking. Hit ‘X’ a couple of times, receive trophy)
Achievement Unlocked satirizes both of these trends in modern achievements. What it also does is inform players that playing a game for the sake of achievements is pointless, because, overall, achievements mean nothing. All they can really do is show other people what challenges you have or have not done in a game. By putting points or a value of sorts onto each achievement, some players are encouraged to play games with easy achievements. This game encourages players not to do that. People shouldn’t play a game based solely on the achievements; they should play a game because it is fun. Interestingly enough, this game does a good job at attracting its intended audience. How does it do it? By offering an achievement for finishing, thus, attracting people who only want to play games for achievements. Clever.