Lemmings still haunts my nightmares almost three decades later


PC Gamer magazine

(Image credit: Future)

This article first appeared in issue 354 of PC Gamer magazine, in our PC Gaming Legends feature. Every month we run exclusive features exploring the world of PC gaming—from behind-the-scenes previews, to incredible community stories, to fascinating interviews, and more.

The medieval historian St Bede—aka The Venerable Bede, which really ought to be a band name by now—once compared life to a sparrow’s flight through a banqueting hall on a winter night: a moment of light and warmth, bookended by darkness. I sometimes like to think of DMA Design’s Lemmings as a modern reworking of this existential fable, with a couple of major differences. Firstly, it’s about stupid rodents rather than birds, and secondly, it unfolds in a kind of Brighton Pier version of hell, all novelty crystals and gold pillars set to unholy chiptune renditions of songs like London Bridge is Falling Down. 

Unlike Bede’s sparrow, the lemmings need a bit of direction. They drop from a magic window and trundle brainlessly left or right unless otherwise ordered. Your goal is to get them through this souvenir-stand underworld against the clock, by assigning skills such as digger or climber. On the other side of both the entrance and exit portals lies not wintry oblivion, but a heavenly vista of green slopes and blue skies. 

If the moral of Bede’s fable is to savour every conscious moment, the moral of Lemmings seems to be that life is a nasty interlude full of spikes and lava pools, to be navigated as quickly as possible.

(Image credit: Psygnosis)

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