Self-Checkout Unlimited is a walking simulator set in an empty shopping mall after closing time. The game was made by Argent Games and is their first foray into 3D non-visual novel genres. The result: a surreal exploration of a seemingly abandoned mall, accompanied only by the voices of two PA announcers guiding you through an array of stores and otherworldly dimensions. The game was inspired by Timothy Leary's and Robert Anton Wilson's eight-circuit model of consciousness coupled with the mallsoft/"dead mall" genre, and describes itself as "a unique exploration of both mind and matter."
Self-Checkout Unlimited provides examples of:
- Abandoned Area: Somewhat softened by the vaporwave aesthetic, but you are nevertheless wandering through a clearly empty mall with no other soul in sight.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The Moksha ending, where you essentially become one with everything, but you lose all sense of self and have to wait (possibly forever for the rest of humanity to catch up).
- Call-Back: In Circuit 3, the female PA announcer questions whether a map always depicts reality accurately and asks "if the map calls a swimming pool an ocean, which one reflects reality?" Later on, in Circuit 5, you enter a swimming pool and find what looks to be an ocean floor beneath the surface of the water.
- Don't Look Back: The female PA announcer begs you to run without looking back in Circuit 7, because any doubt will prevent you from evolving further. It simply resets the running segment if you do.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: The characters from the Tetramorphs cartoon series. The Steam achievements are even named for the temperaments.
- Angel: Phlegmatic. Described as gentle and willing to follow a good leader although they themself are reluctant to take charge.
- Bull: Choleric. Described as stubborn and trusting neither himself nor others.
- Lion: Sanguine. Described as mighty and confident in both his own as well as his friends' abilities.
- Eagle: The only one who does not fit into the ensemble, as her achievement is named "Bilius," which corresponds to Choleric rather than Melancholic. She is described as proud and trusting only in her own wings.
- Journey to the Center of the Mind: The entire game is this, culminating in your reprogramming yourself in Circuit 7 and possibly ascending to a higher state of consciousness in Circuit 8.
- Last-Second Ending Choice: Regardless of the choices you've made up until that point, you have to decide right before proceeding down the previously blocked-off hallway that leads to the exit whether you wish to achieve a higher state of consciousness by entering the Eighth Circuit or lie down on the bench and start over from the beginning.
- Meaningful Name:
- Wilson Center Mall is named after Robert Anton Wilson, the author of Prometheus Rising and famous advocator of the eight-circuit model of consciousness which the game is built around.
- The title of the game is also one. "Self-Checkout" refers both to the fact that the game is set in a mall as well as the psychological and philosophical aspects of the game where you are examining your self and state of consciousness.
- Mind Screw: It quickly becomes clear that this isn't just an abandoned mall as you begin entering the surreal dimensions of each circuit.
- The Password Is Always "Swordfish": The password for the box containing the phone cord in the Birthday store is "REWIRE," which can be found on a poster nearby. The password for the computer in the security room is also "REWIRE."
- Uncanny Valley: The giant bunny doll in the Birthday store has...oddly human-looking teeth. When you examine it, the game notes that it looks like it's watching you.