Developer: Darion McCoy
Launcher Quote: “Again, we are left holey and decrepit, pursuing an infatuation which – at our own expense – binds us in a lonesome bewilderment.”
Puzzle/Adventure hybrids, of the type that Myst offers, had rarely back in the day followed on negative themes. You basically solved the puzzle and finished the adventure, and you were very much clearly the hero fighting evil and you got a reward in the end of doing everything successful to do good in the game setting. That’s all well and good, but some of the contemporary games in this genre have taken a darker, more sinister turn, with no straightforward answers as to the morality or ethics of your actions, and that’s the kind of eerie vibe I got looking at this entry.
One of the things I liked the most about this game is how it turned adventure game goals on its head – you’re not saving someone, looking for something to help the world, or otherwise looking to aspire to a higher goal. You’re just exploring, finding some really disturbing imagery, and trying to follow the right instructions to get through the darkness in a door, a kind of ongoing presence that you feel you have to conquer. We get played and deceived for our need to achieve goals in this game, as we think there might be something on the other side of the dark portal that we would get in order to be rewarded. The only reward, it seems, is endless darkness, something that the launcher quote hints at but never really delivers on until you follow the same pattern of obsessive exploration, only to be shown nothing.
It’s hard to tell what the message of the game ultimately is, besides perhaps not following mindlessly down a path that can lead to something that you hadn’t intended, but perhaps that might be part of what the developer is saying – it’s a cautionary tale against that kind of single-minded need to solve and to be rewarded shouldn’t always be something you do without looking around to ensure you’re doing the right thing.