I know you hear it. The voice inside your head. It’s reading these words right now because you’re not reading this out loud, because it would be weird to do that alone. It’s your internal debater when you’re working problems out, the entity that listens to everything you think before it is said, and your recollection when something happens that seems kind of familiar but you’re…not quite sure if it happened or not. Deja vu? Yeah, that’s it. This voice is in your corner for whatever life throws at you. But, and hear me out:
What if it wasn’t your friend? What if it wasn’t yours at all?
Laid together as a barebones visual novel, Milk inside a bag of milk inside a bag of milk tasks a nameless female to go out and get some milk. Simple. The main protag will take advice from the player, manifesting as the voice in her head, as they are given options to guide her to her destination and acquire said bag of milk. A small walk to the store to get some milk for Mum. But our female friend has some trouble with the thought of going to the store. Or talking to people. Or putting both feet on concrete and not one foot on grass or concrete since that would personally mess up the predestined coordinates in which each step corresponds to the laid out plan set up-
– She’s getting off-track here, sorry. Milk inside a bag places two spokes in the ground for how you can act to the protagonist. Gentle and persuasive to guide her to her goal and to reach home safely. Or terrible, self-deprecating thoughts that creep into her head like a cockroach on the wall. Surely you won’t go and say those terrible things to her, like telling her she’s not worthy of living and letting her know that helping her do a menial task like getting milk is a complete waste of your time.
But you can.
These thoughts are present throughout the entire 15-20 minute walk. You’ll start to peel back more information regarding her past that coordinates with her present. She’ll ask you questions. You can answer them how you like. She’ll ask you not to ask certain questions. You can answer that how you like. But the 4th wall intrusions that slowly seeps into her psyche shows the player is less of the internal voice in her head, and more a medically induced partner mixed in a cocktail of trauma and self-doubt. It’s equal parts impressive and unsettling how quickly you can swap from being a guiding light to a suicidal tendency, especially given how short and tight this game is.
It casts a light on a lot of the problems that those who suffer from schizophrenia and trauma-based mental illnesses experience. Where the protagonist takes the time to relish herself as a main character in a visual novel to aid in daily tasks, the voices in her head are always there, and whether or not they are going to be bad is entirely up to something entirely not in her control. You play with her life like a horror-drenched Being John Malkovich. It’s a terrifying concept without having to be overtly scary on the surface.
And it lingers, even when a properly earned “bad” ending cuts your time short with her or the structured “good” ending leaves you with more questions than answers, that this is just one day for her. One scenario that provided such dissonance of emotions, attacks, turns that concluded with a flatlining conversation and the prosaic return to shelter. It’s an emotional slap in the face, the moral victories that get overshadowed by the realistic turmoil of everyday life, that holds long after the game ends.
Spend the dollar. Take the dip. Grab the bag of milk. The bag of milk inside a bag. The bag of milk inside a bag of milk in a bag of milk inside a bag of milk in a bag of milk inside a bag of milk in a bag of milk inside a bag of milk in a bag of milk
A Steam code was independently purchased for review.