If you listened to my most recent podcast, you’ll know that I love indie games, and a few days ago I downloaded pretty cool new one. It’s a procedurally generated# side-scroller called One Day You Will Die that has you grow older and avoid the most common causes of death in each year of your life based on actual data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That might feel like a lot to take, and it’s very possible the subject matter is jarring enough to trigger a state of cognitive dissonance# within you because maybe you smoke cigarettes, bike through traffic without a helmet, or are binge-drinking well past your 20’s and well, One Day You Will Die is not afraid to highlight the fact that those are the things that will most likely have you facing death prematurely.

But anyway, I’m not here to judge your lifestyle (I do that on Twitter), I’m hear to talk about this wonderfully crafted indie game.

As I’ve made it clear above, One Day You Will Die covers a serious subject and ties it to real-life data, making things feel rather personal. The game takes place in a Nidhogg-esque world with fast-moving pixel graphics and a haunting soundtrack that follows a rhythm that feels like a steady heartbeat. The purpose of the game is to avoid the various causes of death that fly at you as readable text and appear in the proper frequency for your age, as described by the CDC’s data set on the causes of death in the United States.

How you will die

The controls are very simple, with your character being locked along the x-axis but able to float up and down the y-axis as you hurl forward in life avoiding spinning words of death. When a collision with a given method of untimely expiration for your age group seems unavoidable, you can trigger a ‘moment’ which provides a protective barrier around your character, allowing you to plow through the various horrible fates that have statistically speaking, claimed many of your peers.


You might categorize One Day You Will Die as an endless runner#, but that category and the game’s theme don’t necessarily align well because life is not endless and as the title implies, you’re going to die. That begs the question, how does the game play at age 90, or 190? Finding the answer to that question drives you to keep hitting start to be reborn to see if maybe you can grow old enough to be the outlier in the CDC’s data and beat the odds.

Perhaps I’m just getting old or maybe it’s just the emo teenager in me showing through, but I found One Day You Will Die to be very thought-provoking because unsurprisingly, I found myself thinking about my life and how I’ve been lucky over the past 32 years to avoid any major illnesses or life-changing accidents. Though, it also caused me to recall the times that I willfully made decisions that increased my risk of injury or death and I felt lucky to be here today sitting on my couch, next to my pug, alive and well enough to spend my time writing about video games.

One Day You Will Die is available for download on Mac and Windows via itch.io, a great indie game shop that let’s gamers pick their own price from a range set by game developers. One Day You Will Die is worth the download, but whether or not it’s worth the existential crisis it may cause is entirely up to you.

Header image from the immensely talented moninika of DeviantArt