Machine of Death

What if you could know how you were going to die? Would you even want to know?


Based off of Ryan North’s novel of the same name, Hulk Handsome’s Twine story allows you to explore the world of the Machine of Death. In this world there is a machine that can tell you with 100% accuracy how you will die. You simply have to insert your finger for a blood sample and you are given a card with a short phrase indicating how you will die. But these cards aren’t always clear cut. As the game says, a man received ‘Peanuts’ and avoided said nut for his life, only to die by a falling Peanuts comic collection. This opaqueness lends itself to constant paranoia while playing.

This twine game feels far more open world than many other Twine games I’ve played. There are different manners of death to receive and intricate stories with branching paths and multiple endings for each death. You are even allowed to refuse to know your manner of death, though this cuts the game off very early. I’ve only had time to play two different death cards so I’m not sure how many different stories there actually are. I’ve played ‘Old Age’ and part of ‘Looking Up.’ I’d be interested in finding out what other deaths exist, if any.

To talk more about this piece would start to spoil things, so I leave you to discover how you will die.

  3 comments for “Machine of Death

  1. nbemis
    March 24, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    I actually found the collection of stories that this Twine story refers to a few years ago. It’s free to download as a PDF, which is pretty cool. In any case, I think that the Twine story captures the same dark sense of humor embraced by the collection of stories, but with an interesting twist. In the collection, each story followed some character to their death. In this one, the reader/player is the one who inevitably dies. Depending on the person, someone experiencing this story could either be greatly amused or very annoyed at this idea. I, for one, was very interested to see how I would end up dying, but others might feel that there was no way to “win”.

  2. kmunnis
    March 31, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    By making the reader/player the main character of the story, Machine of Death has more immersion than it would have if the stories had been directly transferred to Twine. The inevitability of death, in any story or games presets the tone for a story, and in my experience has always made me feel anxious and at the same time very curious. Following up to what nbemis, it seems to me the point of the story is, you can’t escape your fate or “win” against death. It’s even interesting that the game gives you the opportunity to relive the day, to see if you can cheat death by knowing how events will unfold. Maybe a completionist would consider it a “win” if they discovered all of the different scenarios. I would be very interested in seeing the twine map to know how the reader is assigned a death, because I came to the conclusion that it was either a very very complicated map or Handsome used a random generator.

  3. April 4, 2014 at 5:12 am

    Hello! Thanks for the comments. They were very interesting to read. I’m quite happy people are reacting to the game in their own way.

    I think what I found most interesting is that some of you think death has to happen. While it’s true the player is doomed to their fate and will die eventually, each scenario has a “win” condition that at least gets them through that day.

    In regards to how I assign the death, the first one is picked completely at random, then the following two (there are a total of three scenarios) are assigned a slot based on what the first one was to avoid repetition in a single play. Once all three are played, the slots are reset.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *