You Have 293 Keys is an absurdist look at game dungeons and an exercise in patience, created by 14HLB. Faced with a locked door and a massive pile of keys, players must brute force their way to victory or give into their deepest frustrations. It's a silly game that makes repetition into art.
I have a very distinct memory of feeling trapped in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time's water temple. Searching everywhere for new rooms to explore, I eventually found myself faced with a locked door that I couldn't find the key for. I searched high and low for days, fuming with frustration. You Have 293 Keys boils that search down to the essentials. It replaces a grand dungeon with a single room and removes the search, dumping hundreds of keys right beside you. Only one opens the locked door to the end of the game.
You Have 293 Keys' constricted game space initially feel like a prison that you need to burst out of. But as you go through the motions of trying key after key, the game takes something that should be frustrating and turns it into something relaxing. The repetition highlights the act of searching for and trying keys and makes it something almost meditative. Players can challenge their luck to see how quickly they can open the door, but it's best to take it slow. I completed the game in just over 10 minutes using 129 keys, and gave a genuine gasp when the door finally opened.
That's 44 per cent of all the keys. Go, me!
By consisting solely of a simple challenge players have faced thousands of times before, You Have 293 Keys highlights this familiar action without the excess complications of plot or extraneous items. Players face an obstacle and surpass it; one more room, one more challenge.
Games can transport us to amazing worlds with spectacular challenges, but they definitely get goofy from time to time, asking us to solve all sort of arbitrary puzzles to make it just a little bit further. You Have 293 Keys is a great reminder of how random game puzzles can be. You could spend a long time looking for the right key, but if you're really lucky, you might just succeed on your first go.