Crows Crows Crows, the indie studio behind Justin Roiland’s Accounting and led by The Stanley Parable co-creator William Pugh, released what might be its strangest project to date. Eat is a free mobile game that takes players through a seemingly endless array of food, taunting them the entire way through.
The whole game relies on tapping on a picture of food until it’s all chewed up; a random line of text will then appear in its place. Tap the screen again, then repeat the process with another food item. There’s croissants, hot dogs, French fries, rice — all kinds of good stuff.
At least, there is at first.
The thing about Eat is that it’s anything but the basic, repetitive app that it looks like on the surface. Eat is, in fact, a psychological horror game — in which the player must fight against the unseen force Uncle Hunger, who can only be vanquished through tapping.
“Our intent behind Eat is simple,” lead designer Pugh told Polygon. “Complete and utter disruption of Big Food. Companies like Deliveroo and Foodora have been working together with the notorious scumbag UNCLE HUNGER since the beginning of the Food Chain. It has always been that those who wield the means of production hold the power — but with the release of Eat and its ability to generate infinite food we are passing the power back to the hands of the people. Our intent behind Eat is to permanently and irrevocably change the nature of life as we know it.”
Without this context, Eat makes absolutely zero sense. Even with this context, it’s hard to parse; the backstory with Deliveroo and Foodora only becomes slightly clearer after checking out the Crows Crows Crows landing page for the game.
The premise of Eat as the agent of an obscure political agenda does bear out in the game, though. The text that cuts in between the food pics at first seems Instagram caption-worthy (“The food is tasty ... if only there was more ...”) until it starts to sound like hypnotic propaganda.
“Do not fear Uncle Hunger.” “Kill Uncle Hunger.” “Reject the poison of Uncle Hunger.”
Well, at least there are still those nice food pics to look at, right? Nope. Eventual replacements include a variety of strange items that I’d rather let you discover on your own.
Eat works best if you exit the app when the cycle seems stuck in a rut and you’re ready to give up, only returning after you’ve nearly forgotten about it. The whole thing is short — it took a tag-team of me and Polygon engagement editor Jeff Ramos maybe 40 minutes to complete, factoring in breaks — but I’m still thinking about taking on that dang Uncle Hunger, whoever he is.