Let it never be said I don’t like art of different philosophies. I can like cubism, impressionism, fauvism, surrealism, etc. Maximalist or minimalist, I like them both. I love both metal gear solid and shadow of the colossus. Shadow of The Colossus closely adheres to the philosophy of minimalism and it my favorite game of all time. I preface this review with this statement because I feel if I didn’t you’d swear up and down I hated indie games. I don’t if my last review is anything to go on (link).
What I do hate, however, are games that propose to have more than what they deliver. This is not a minimalist game, it’s simply barren, dry, creatively scarce. The difference between minimalist and barren is like the difference between being frugal and being broke. One has more but chooses to spend wisely and precisely, while the other just simply has nothing to give.
Talking about why this game is bad is little like trying to talk about why the marvel movies are good. When you experience them it’s apparent why their good and you can clearly point out why, but there isn’t that much in depth discussion to be had about them. Saying why this game is bad is simple, there’s just not that much that can be said about it, though.
This game can be called, ostensibly, a 3rd person interactive experience. Your goal is to collect 100 of these, weirdly textured, dodecahedrons (insert picture of shape here), to reach an alter (I assume it’s an alter) and make the final decision. The game has a low poly style that I think highlights this games problem because while it may aim to be minimalist in actuality it’s just lacking in depth and complexity.
The game gives the impression that you will be able to explore the world around you, however going in any direction that is not the designated oval of space you’re allotted, you quickly face an invisible wall. Even though there’s clearly a lot more visible space. There’s isn’t that much to explore in your allotted space either. There’s a pond, some hills, the occasional tattered wall, and the final concrete circular area (you’re never quite sure what it is, more on that later).
The game eludes to a narrative being present in the games itchio page, but a few interactions with the NPC’s shows that this really isn’t the case. Mind you, the NPCs are the only way to receive information in this game. The only things they say are comments on the serenity of the world, the oddity of you moving, and the weight of your final decision. At no point are we given any remotely concrete details, or given any illusory mentions that hint at what happened to the world that made it that, or why it is that way. The supposed narrative the dev’s meant to tell is hidden behind a wall of such gross vagueness and minuscule detail that you’d be forgiven for thinking there’s no actual story. The environment doesn’t do a good job of picking up the slack either. Any distinct landmarks the game has are so generic that don’t provide any deeper context or hints to the history of the land. The tattered walls can mean any number of things that without any information that might point to the reason for their condition their simply just decrepit walls. Without any larger context for both the landmarks and walls the inhabit, they lose any possible meaning and interpretation the audience could imbue them with.
Then finally you collect all 100 of the orbs and you’re presented with the decision at the altar. You’re given the option to stay or to leave. In either case, you never see the result of these decisions or get to read about them. As soon as you make your decision it cuts to credits so we’re never told what either decision leads to or how that relates to the overall narrative.
The game is mired in aspirations that were caught up in pretension. A game so caught up in what if could do that it forgot to really apply itself and actually do good. Characters could have reminisced on the events that transpired and the value of the world being like it is. Buildings and landmarks that give a more accurate image as to what happened, could have been placed the map filled with oddities or notes of the time leading up to what made the world like it. Just something more could have been done to give this game a more tangible sense of story and theme. There is no greater discussion to be had about why this game failed, it’s very clear why. Simple, bad, creative decisions.