I am not a statistician, but I suppose that for most people who think about their partner on this Valentine’s Day, there are so many doubts about an ex. Or maybe even a compendium of ex. Or maybe they are simply trying to counteract any thoughts of some former and past Valentine’s Day.
A new game, released today for PC and Mac, argues that instead we should embrace the ghosts of former lovers.
After all, as “Apartment: a separate place” makes clear, they persecute us anyway. Here, in an interactive fiction work developed by Robyn Tong Gray and Richard Emms, our places of residence at different times become a prison or a museum, be it a collection of a past life that we wish we could forget or walls that every time They feel more claustrophobic. Both are fuel for depression for our protagonist, who spends his days trying to avoid thoughts caused by a cup of coffee, an old sticky note or even an out of place television remote control.
These objects are reminders of fights or better days or simply signs of growth. Those old coffee cups? They once held wine after an early date, before he had the means to buy specific glassware for drinks. Consider “Apartment: a separate place”, the duration of a movie, a kind of complementary piece of the Netflix movie game “Marriage Story”, and the type of game developed independently that continues to stretch the very definition of a game .
The desire to explore softer and less competitive emotions in games remains an incipient space. If the reaction of those who witnessed me playing “Apartment: a separate place” in the Los Angeles Times office is a small hint of the general population, many are still confused by the idea of games without a winning state. But as anyone who has survived a relationship can attest, exploring vulnerability also requires a lot of heroism.
“Apartment: A Separated Place” offers a light narrative: we rebuild the lives and relationships not only of the new protagonist, but also of the anguish suffered by others in the housing complex, but mainly uses interactivity as a means to interact . While it begins relatively dour, since our totally average type is in full depression, it soon acquires more surreal metaphorical qualities.
The real break in the heart of the game is not great dramas. It is a story of two people who love each other deeply but simply separated. Similarly, many of the instances we find through the homes of our neighbors. If presented as a movie or a television show, “Apartment: A Separated Place” would be relatively low in theater, perhaps even tedious, but this approach is particularly suited to interactive fiction: the game gives us a space to walk around and be lost.
The easier to relate the moments, the easier it will be to pause and stop on a hair clip, and wonder what emotions will be conjured, in the form or in a graphic novel such as panels, if we click on the element. And the more normal the relationship, the better it will be for developers to evoke magical moments that allow us to reflect on the everyday rather than exaggerated.
Ultimately, this is a game about moving on, and we do it by confronting the memories, good and bad, of the characters in the apartment. A game allows us to explore narratives not only from different points of view, but also provides us with open space so that we try to match the emotional space of its characters, sometimes a girl who dreams of being a princess, and sometimes parents whose parents overtime shifts prevented them from learning when exactly their favorite color changed from pink to blue.
The fun comes from discovering these memories, wandering in a forest, for example, and using lightning bugs to highlight objects that remember the past. In another scene, we direct a character through the crowded streets of the city, only in this scene we are walking in another person’s dream. The thoughts we choose dictate the narration we follow, and those thoughts come from a couple who wonders what is driving their lover away: is it another suitor? Or are they really consumed with work? We are choosing the direction in which a mind will spiral.
We don’t always get a clear answer about how a relationship ended, but we don’t need it in games. And besides, the romance, its emotion, its whims, its panic attacks or the fear it causes, does not follow a linear script. For those who still think of games in terms of winning or losing, we win here by confronting what can be difficult for their characters.
“Apartment: a separate place” is not in itself a painful experience, in the emotional sense, that is. Whether climbing the endless stairs of a twisted mansion, the mind here of a lonely old woman, or playing the keyboard to reveal the words written by a frustrated novelist, “Apartment: a separate place” aims to gradually place the player in a kind of sleep status.
Doing so relieves the nightmare of anguish, at least for a moment.
“Apartment: a separate place”
Developer: The Elsewhere Company
Video games and immersive entertainment.
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