Playing Rhiannon, With Rhiannon

Warning: contains spoilers for indie-game Rhiannon, possibly minor spoilers for human-being Rhiannon

The first date did not go spectacularly well.

This is partly my fault, of course. I had taken it upon myself to live-tweet the event, something which, even amongst millennials, is apparently considered “weird”. At one point I either insinuated, or outright said, that she was ugly. She wasn’t. It was a joke that fell flat. She took a long sip of her cocktail. I’m not entirely sure why she didn’t leave there and then.

I got home feeling slightly down, and opened up my laptop to whine on Twitter some more. Somehow I ended up on Tumblr, scrolling through my carefully curated list of blogs displaying cats, half-naked women, and sometimes a mixture of the two. And among the many pictures containing both of these interests, I saw something a little startling.


Wrong ‘Rhiannon’ game

Neither a cat nor the name of a Suicide Girl, but the name of a game produced for the Myst Jam by one Brendon Vance. I looked at it for a while. My date had been called Rhiannon, too. Was this fate? Was I destined to find this game on the same day that I met this woman? And even if it wasn’t, was I really going to miss such a great opportunity to start talking to her again?

I took the plunge, thinking she’d ignore the message. I told her that such a game existed, and she seemed interested. We talked some more. The next day rolled around. Conversation continued. I had it in my head that I would play the game and give her a live commentary as I did, but in the end I completely forgot about the whole thing.

Then, the unthinkable happened. I invited her round for a haphazardly put together meal and a screening of disasterpiece The Room, and she agreed to it. Clearly the first date hadn’t gone as badly as I thought. Or maybe she was just killing time, and was a sucker for free food and terrible films. Even now, I can’t say which it may have been.

I cooked. We watched the film. It was hideously awkward, thanks in no small part to Tommy Wiseau’s insistence on putting a sex scene in every five minutes that lasted far too long and was particularly unpleasant throughout. The film ended. We read each other’s tarot. It was all a bit strange.

Then I remembered. Rhiannon. I grabbed my laptop, fumbled around trying to get the .exe file to actually work, had to redownload the game twice, eventually realised that I was just clicking the wrong thing repeatedly, and finally, after nearly ten minutes of failing, it loaded up.

Human-being Rhiannon was a little bit confused. It is generally, I have found, not considered good date practice to suddenly produce a laptop and start making someone play a strange indie game with you, but, given my inability to talk about anything else, and my own anxieties revolving around how dull it may be to listen to me ramble on about weird games, sometimes I feel it’s better to start showing rather than telling.

But I pressed on regardless. Indie-game Rhiannon opens with a pitch-black environment, occupied by a simple pixel-man known only as Pilgrim. You move by clicking floating bugs that glow in the darkness, moving from one bug to the next, not entirely sure where you’re going. You move down stairs and through caverns, but this is all implied rather than shown. It’s a strange experience, to say the least.

Still the wrong ‘Rhiannon’ game

Human-being Rhiannon was, thus far, not impressed. I carried on, saying that I had read somewhere that it only lasts around ten minutes. She didn’t seem convinced, but by this point I was too stubborn to quit. It’s one of my many problems. But then, finally, something appeared – a pair of eyes in the darkness.

It’s you!” I joked, nudging human being Rhiannon. But indie-game Rhiannon was thinking along the same lines, and a large cat’s face emerged and revealed its name was, in fact, Rhiannon. Pilgrim chuckled to himself, and then said something that seemed a lot like lyrics, but I couldn’t be sure. It had a rhyme to it, but I couldn’t place the song.

Human being Rhiannon, however, was doubling over, groaning to herself. I asked what was wrong.

That song has been haunting me all my life,” she replied.

I clicked through some more text. In-game cat Rhiannon was groaning too, obviously annoyed that Pilgrim had reduced her name to just a couple of lines from a Fleetwood Mac song. Ah. It all started to make sense. I was not aware of the song, but human-being Rhiannon most certainly was.

Every time,” she muttered. “Someone always makes that joke every time they find out my name.

I started to regret this decision almost immediately, but by now we were too far down the rabbit hole. The only way out was through. I clicked through more text, as Pilgrim continued to jibe in-game cat Rhiannon about her name’s affiliation, and human-being Rhiannon continued to look as though she’d rather be anywhere else on the planet.

Eventually, in indie-game Rhiannon, you stumble out of the darkness and into a world made entirely of words representing the places that should be there. Giant neon letters offer up DRINKS and REGRET. “Ah,” said human-being Rhiannon, “this seems more like me.” We walked on, through the metaphorical city streets, slowly inching towards a concert in the background. The screen zoomed in on a lone pixel-person on stage, with a guitar, and a song started playing. A chiptune rendition of Fleetwood Mac song Rhiannon.

Oh for God’s sake,” cried human-being Rhiannon.

Found it.

Indie-game Rhiannon played this rendition a little longer, until eventually the pixel guitarist was booed off stage, something human-being Rhiannon felt she could wholeheartedly get behind. And then another pixel-person arrived, this time with only a microphone, and began to play a different song. A modern song by solo pop artist The Weeknd. I recognised it from numerous plays on the radio while working a dumb retail job. Human-being Rhiannon recognised it too. We sat, staring, dumbstruck.

What the fuck is going on?” I asked, rhetorically.

I have no idea,” human-being Rhiannon answered.

Indie-game Rhiannon ended shortly thereafter. We walked forward towards the credits, confused, lost for words. The game ended. I pushed the laptop away. I looked at human-being Rhiannon. She didn’t have much to say.

I wanted to talk about it, but couldn’t find the words. Human-being Rhiannon didn’t offer anything up. We both agreed it was certainly A Thing That Had Happened, and decided to move on. We hung out a while longer. It was pretty chill.

There may be some of you thinking, “what was the point in this story, Ric?” And, to be honest, I’m not sure I have an answer. Perhaps you could take away the fact that sharing games with people is a tricky proposition, particularly if neither of you knows what you’re getting into. You could walk away reconsidering your approach to dating, and whether or not you’re ready for it anymore.

Though possibly the most important take away is this: if you meet someone called Rhiannon, don’t mention Fleetwood Mac song Rhiannon.

You can download indie-game Rhiannon for free on Real human-being Rhiannon cannot be downloaded.

Last five articles by Ric



  1. Ste Ste says:

    My wife isn’t much of a gamer, but she does like to watch me play certain games. Stuff like Uncharted, Tomb Raider (the Reboot) and The Last of Us. Basically anything with a strong set of characters and a decent story that she can engage with and enjoy. On the other hand, I don’t particularly enjoy watching other people play these types of games because I always feel like they are being spoiled for me and that they are something that I’d like to discover and enjoy myself rather than just watch.

    I look forward to more Rhiannon based updates, mainly because there’s a high probability that it will all go wrong and I can have a good laugh about it.

  2. Keegan says:

    You’re a beautiful mind Ric.

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