Steam Horror Game Challenges You To Beat It Before You Can Refund It

Steam Horror Game Challenges You To Beat It Before You Can Refund It
If you refund this game, maybe you're the real monster... (Screenshot: Sungame Studio / Kotaku)

It may look and play like an asset flip, but Refund Me If You Can is nothing if not clever with its premise: You have two hours to evade a monster, get out of a sewer-like maze, and you must to promise — on your honour — that you will not request a refund through Steam. You are otherwise, and the game isn’t shy about calling you this, a coward.

Valve allowed users to refund a game on Steam starting in 2015 with only two criteria for eligibility: 1. You must not have played more than two hours of said game and 2. You must request a refund within 14 days of purchase of said game. Refund policies like this might make sense in an increasingly digital-only landscape of video games, but the two hour limit carries with it the risk of screwing over shorter games, allowing users to sort of use the policy like a rental service. Refund Me If You Can dares users to be so shitty.

Surfacing on Steam today, Refund Me If You Can, from Sungame Studio, is certainly a rough game visually and I ran into at least two or three invisible walls as I tried to parse my way through the dungeon-like environment. There are technically two games it asks you to play. One of them is the escape challenge and time limit. The other, more clever part I think, is a “The Game”-like challenge where you have to agree to not refund the game or else become, well, a coward.

Who are you a coward to exactly? The dev? Yourself? Steam? What even is cowardice? Selling at a low $US3.99 ($6) on Steam definitely makes it easy to not refund the game. This might’ve been a harder challenge if the game cost above 10 bucks…buuuut with a game that plays and looks like this, I dunno if you could really get away with charging anything beyond what Sungame is currently asking for.

The game lives up to its premise from the second you load in. The clock starts ticking on the main menu, not even giving me a freebie to switch on full screen and adjust a few other things. It encourages you to jump into a short tutorial that shows you the ropes. You get a flashlight, which I think never recharges when it depletes (at least that was my experience), and you can lay down two different coloured flares to keep track of your movements, a green and red one.

That monster though. Yeah. I didn’t need to be jump-scared like that so early in the damn morning. The opening warning, which is actually more of a loose contractual agreement to not refund the game, states that the level can be completed in 15 minutes. I put about seven in before deciding to see what the monster would do to me. Surprise, he killed me and I had to start over, this time with seven plus minutes against me.

Refund Me If You Can is entirely a “premise game,” so much so that there’s little else to enjoy here outside of the “don’t refund this game, haha” joke it’s offering to the player. I do wish Refund Me wasn’t so sloppy visually and mechanically, because this isn’t a bad premise! Just needed more time in the oven. Or, perhaps should’ve been at least cooked first.

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