Steam Horror Game challenges you to beat it before you can pay it back

It may look and play out like an asset reversal, but Pay me back if you can is nothing if not clever with its premise: you have two hours to escape a monster, get out of a sewer-like maze, and you have to promise – on your honor – that you won’t ask for a refund through Steam. You are otherwise, and the game does not hesitate to call you that, a coward.

Valve allowed users to refund a game on Steam from 2015 with only two eligibility criteria: 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 video game landscape, but the two-hour limit carries the risk of screwing up shorter games, allowing users to to use politics as a kind of rental service. Pay me back if you can challenge users to be so shitty.

Appearing on Steam today, Pay me back if you can, from Sungame Studio, is certainly a visually challenging game and I encountered at least a couple of invisible walls as I tried to analyze my way through the dungeon-like environment. There are technically two games he asks you to play. One of them is escape challenge and time limit. The other part, smarter I think, is a “The Game” type challenge where you have to agree not to refund the game or become, well, a coward.

Who exactly are you a coward for? The developer? Yourself? Steam? What is cowardice? Selling for a low price of US$3.99 ($6) on Steam definitely makes it easier to not get the game refunded. It might have been a tougher challenge if the game was over $10…but with a game that play and look thisI don’t know if you could really get away with charging anything beyond what Sungame is currently charging.

The game lives up to its premise from the second you load up. The clock starts ticking in the main menu, not even giving me a gift to go 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 runs out (at least that was my experience), and you can land two different colored flares to track your movements, one green and one a red one.

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

Pay me back if you can is entirely a “premise game”, so much so that there isn’t much else to enjoy here aside from the “don’t refund this game, haha” joke it offers the player. I wish Reimburse me wasn’t that sloppy visually and mechanically, because that’s not a bad premise! Just need more time in the oven. Or maybe it should have been at least cooked first.

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