Passage is an experimental project by Jason Rohrer which attempts to represent life in the span of five minutes. The choices that a player makes is crucial, and there's no right way to play Passage or interpret it.
Use the arrow keys to move the character up, down, left and right. Press the F key to toggle fullscreen mode, and use the B key to adjust screen blow-up factor. Press the Q key to quit.
In Passage, players can search for and open treasure chests. Not every pursuit leads to a reward - most of them are empty. Over time, though, you can can learn which pursuits are likely to be rewarding. Each treasure chest is marked with a sequence of gems on its front, and this sequence indicates whether the chest contains a reward. During the course of the game, you can learn to read these sequences and only spend your precious time opening worthwhile treasure chests.
Passage represents life's challenges with a maze. The screen geometry only allows you to view a narrow slice of this maze at any given moment. You can see quite a distance out in front of you, but you can't see anything to the north or south. You may see a reward up ahead but not be able to see a clear path to it. After a bit of exploration, you may discover that a seemingly-nearby reward is in fact unreachable. As you go deeper into the maze to the south, the path becomes more convoluted, though an obstacle-free route is always available to the north. However, treasure chests are more and more common as you go deeper into the maze. You can spend your time in pursuit of these hard-to-reach rewards, or you can explore and enjoy the scenery that unfolds before you to the east. As you grow older, your view of the territory in front of you shrinks, and navigating new areas in life's maze becomes more difficult.
The world in Passage is infinite. As you head east, you'll find an endless expanse of constantly-changing landscape, and you are rewarded for your exploration. However, even if you spent your entire lifetime exploring, you'd never have a chance to see everything that there is to see. If you spend your time plumbing the depths of the maze, however, you will only see a tiny fraction of the scenery.
You have the option of joining up with a spouse on your journey. If you missed her, she's in the far north near your original starting point. Once you team up with her, however, you must travel together, and you are not as agile as you were when you were single. Some rewards deep in the maze will no longer be reachable if you're with your spouse. You simply cannot fit through narrow paths when you are walking side-by-side. In fact, you will sometimes find yourself standing right next to a treasure chest, yet unable to open it, and the only thing standing in your way will be your spouse. On the other hand, exploring the world is more enjoyable with a companion, and you'll reap a larger reward from exploration if she's along. When she dies, though, your grief will slow you down considerably.
The rewards in Passage come in the form of points added to your score, and you have two options for scoring points - treasure chests, which give 100 points for each hit, and exploration, which gives double-points if you walk with your spouse. There's a pretty tight balance between these two options, there's no optimal choice between the two.