In Ennuigi you play a depressed, chain-smoking Luigi who's lost all hope

Ennuigi, a game about playing Mario's listless brother as he contemplates his past, is the kind of game you need to play in the dark with a glass of scotch. Where Mario games are typically upbeat and energetic, Josh Millard's reinterpretation of the Mushroom Kingdom is glum, sometimes pretentious, and sometimes wonderfully insightful.

There's not much to Ennuigi beyond non-interactive storytelling. You guide Luigi through procedurally generated snapshots of a decaying Mushroom Kingdom and, if you so choose, can stop to either have Luigi take a slow, resigned drag on his cigarette or to gaze upward and unload introspective thoughts on his past, his brother, and the absurdity that surrounds their lives.

"I asked her, why do you stay with him. She laughed, the kind of laugh so empty it's less funny than a sob. 'Well, he did rescue me, didn't he?’”

That's not exactly the kind of thing that makes you want to hop out of bed in the morning, and Ennuigi is brimming with these dark insights into what's really going on behind all the Goomba-stomping of the Mario games. While not every thought Luigi ruminates over is worth sharing, Ennuigi provides some eye-opening musings into what it must be like living in your brother's shadow. I love the little signs of decay etched into everything that give off the impression that Luigi is stuck in some kind of hellish purgatory. It's easy to imagine him stuck in some underworld mirror of the Mushroom Kingdom he can't escape from. Like I said, it's pretty heavy stuff, and I enjoy every minute I continue to play. 

In a Reddit thread debating Ennuigi's intent and merit, Millard popped by to provide some extra thoughts. While you're at it, it's worth reading his entire response for a great commentary on the value of 'art games' like Ennuigi.

"What Ennuigi is supposed to be . . . is a little funny and a little doomy and pointedly quiet and slow and non-interactive in contrast with rowdy platforming dynamism of the one game it actually is a direct commentary on. I grew up on [Super Mario Bros.], and loved and love it, and also think it's a pretty weird implied narrative once you step back and look at it, and enjoyed funneling some thoughts about all that into a recharacterization of Luigi as a guy who's as legitimately confused and distressed by his strange life as you'd expect a person to be once removed from the bubble of cartoony context of the franchise."

If you're having a pretty good day and feel like turning it into the kind where you sit in a park watching people laugh and play while you feel nothing inside, Ennuigi will probably help you get there. For more of Josh Millard's work, be sure to check out his website. 

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.