3 Must Play Walking Simulators

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

SOURCE: Campo Santo

There is a genre of games that has been unjustifiably given the most boring name of all time, but have captured my heart, that genre is the walking simulator. A walking simulator is a game that has you explore an environment to uncover a story. It's a kind of interactive narrative that explores a story through dialogue, written notes or just environmental cues that lets the player fall as deep into the story as their curiosity will allow. Most of these games are a few hours long and are best experienced in a single sitting, but if you have the time these games have some of the best storytelling there is. So here are 3 walking simulators that are up with some of my top games of all time.
Gone Home

SOURCE: The Fullbright Company [via. YouTube]

Gone Home by The Fullbright Company is, in many ways, is the poster child for the whole walking sim genre. It is one of the first games of it's kind to gain a mass of critical admiration as well as financial success. Gone Home captures a story with an amazing amount of nuance, that it's hard to imagine another medium pulling it off. In Gone Home you play as Kaitlin a 21 year old woman returning to her family home from overseas. You return home to find your house empty, and through exploring, reading notes and rifling through your families belongings you form the story of what has been going on during your absence.

One of the wonderful things about Gone Home is this profound sense of unease that your left with while exploring the house. Even though there isn't anything overtly sinister about the house you cant help but feel that something bad has happened or will happen. While the story is beautiful and heartbreaking, the process of finding all of the hidden snippets of these peoples lives makes the story feel very personal.  

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

SOURCE: The Chinese Room [via. YouTube]

Every one of these games left me with a feeling after I played it, a hard to explain feeling. It's kind of like a quiet contemplation while the credits roll and you decompress what just happened. Rapture gave me that feeling then for a weeks afterwards, I was just thinking and trying to make sense of it. I thought of it so much that in my drafts is a multi thousand word post dismantling the games story. It's a game that asks a lot of questions but answers very few of them. You are left to explore a quiet English village after some kind of outbreak has made everyone go missing, and it has something to do with a scientific research centre just outside the village. The story is told through these tiny wisps that float around and play out vignettes of a conversation that happened in the place your standing. While some of these are about the overarching story some are just the daily lives of the people in the village. 

As I was playing the game some of these stories would break my heart with how sad they were. The whole game is very melancholy, but in a really beautiful way. The game also features the most accurate portrayal of a part of England that I've ever seen. The houses, pubs and even the doctors surgery could have been places I've been, and it was really nice to see that attention to detail. The game can however be hard to follow at points with so many characters and conversations all spread out, it gets confusing to figure out what happened when. Also you move SO SLOW while traversing the large map, and at points it becomes infuriating, but if you have the patience the finale is worth the wait.


SOURCE: Campo Santo [via. YouTube]

I was anticipating Firewatch since the first time I saw it, I knew that this was going to be something special. It did not disappoint and has easily became one of my all time favourite games. In Firewatch you play as Henry a man who tries to get away from his problems by becoming a fire warden at a national park for a summer. Your only contact is with your supervisor who you talk to through the radio. During your summer you will explore the woodland and do all of your traditional ranger duties, with another very interesting overarching story. The problem with talking about a game like this is that I don't want to even give the tiniest bit away, because encountering the story yourself is so effecting. 

I played through the whole of Firewatch in around 4 hours on the evening it came out last year just to avoid any spoilers. The story is well written and acted, it's engaging and at certain points heartbreaking or funny. Add to this the beautiful scenery and art style, this makes Firewatch a true masterpiece in my eyes. The only real problem I have with it is that the navigation can be slightly confusing, making it easy to get lost. But I suppose that in real life it would be easy to get lost in unfamiliar woodland, so maybe that's just part of the charm. Also the ending filled me with a sense of anticipation and urgency that I've never experienced before or since in a game.A truly unique and beautiful game.


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1 comment :

  1. Okay but honestly WHICH ONE WOULD I LIKE MOST? Then you can teach me to play!

    Love love love