Summer 2020. During the first lockdown I was offered a temporary subscription to Apple Arcade because I had bought an iPad months before. That’s how I started playing video games again.
Eventually, I hadn’t kept the subscription and opened a Steam account instead. Yet, it wasn’t until this Summer that I truly invested time and effort in playing. Last time this happened, I was in my early 20s, playing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on a borrowed Nintendo 64. Some time later, I even worked as a texture artist for a studio based in Milan that was developing a platformer video game. Once the experience ended, I rarely played again. There are multiple reasons why it happened, but one is peer pressure.
Working where almost everyone gets the grasp of a game in a few minutes can be intimidating and discouraging. I didn’t grow up with game consoles, thus I needed practise before I could start having fun. There were also bias in that studio: everyone was expected to have an obsession for playing video games.
High school girl Kai goes to the island of Mutazione to care for her estranged grandfather. Following a devastating event years earlier, almost everyone on the island is a mutated human. The flora, one of the main characters of the story, is also unique. It’s an emotional and inclusive game with a beautiful soundtrack. The genius of the game is in its narrative: the player can choose Kai’s tone in her conversations as well as whether to go straight to the point or to explore and get to know people more (see link below). When I don’t restart the main story, I play garden mode.
An incredibly beautiful and emotional game in which we accompany the protagonist through the five stages of grief. There is no narration and no UI, so the interpretation of the story is up to the player. Aesthetics and an amazing soundtrack make Gris a little gem anyone can play.
Untitled Goose Game
A goose wreaks havoc in a British-looking village and gets rewarded for its nastiness. A game that makes me laugh out loud: pure escapism.
A Short Hike
Claire, a little blue bird, is on holiday with her aunt on an island. She needs to get to the top of a high mountain to be able to receive an important phone call. It’s easy to forget about it though, as you get lost exploring the pixellated island and talk to its inhabitants.
A border-crossing immigration officer in the fictional dystopian country Arstotzka is faced with many challenges. He needs to check the documents validity against ever-changing rules, while trying to balance his finances and navigate through moral dilemmas.
Game Boy Advance
I went through my memories box and found my Game Boy Advance from 2001. So I’m occasionally playing Kuru Kuru Kururin (Japanese edition), Super Mario and Rayman again. What a great find!
Looking forward to
- Mutazione is a game about the importance of tending to gardens and people – article on The Verge
- Deep Dive: Inside the narrative design and ‘multiple middles’ of Mutazione – article on Game Developer
- Reality Is Broken, by Jane McGonigal – Book
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