Nula: Butterflies Rise is a decision-making game that explores the experience of living with anxiety.
Inspired by puzzle adventure games of the early 90s like Myst, the surreal comedy of Flann O'Brien, and the author's experience of living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Nula creates an immersive textual experience, an insight into the daily struggle anxiety can be.
‘She says it's mould', says the man, leaning back to lift the slop bucket with a groan, ‘On the ceiling. All along the beam, creeping down to the bed. They arrive in the nights'.
‘But I think they're stains, from bad dreams. Here, take one side, we'll walk it there together'. You take one side and shuffle with the bucket between you.
Looking down you see it's a thick black liquid, devoid of light. 'Walk in step with me, or we'll get waves', he says, 'and be sure to lift your feet, no dragging'. After walking in silence for 10 minutes or so, you reach the well.
There's light in the distance, the sound of laughter, clapping and an upbeat polka played on a stringed instrument in the nearby village.
You look down, there's a glint from the water's reflection 20 feet or so below.
‘Don't speak when you're looking down it', he says, &lsquoreverberations. Like a telephone to the whole area. Tectonics and suchlike. Pour it in quickly, before they see us, here we go one, two ...' he lifts his side of the bucket on 'two' while your arms are still down.
Unbalanced, he falls forward, missing the well-hole - 'Christ!' - the gunge slithers out onto the grass, lost in the gloom. 'No! No!' screams the man, clawing at the sludge. He falls to his knees, face to the ground, then a guttural roar.
A grotesque noise. He hammers the floor with a clenched fist, jams it in his mouth and bites hard upon clenched fingers to still the desperate, absurd anger.
He rises to his feet, ‘what now?'