2013 IGF Finalists: Nuovo

Bientot l’Ete

I’ll admit that I just really do not understand Bientot l’Ete. It’s not a game for me. It’s certainly interesting from the outside looking in, but out of all the Nuovo finalists this year it is my least favorite. It may not be fun or engaging (not that any Tale of Tales games are), but it does spark my curiosity and is visually stimulating. The stark simplicity of the game setting really drives home that this isn’t a game in the traditional sense, and thus might be worth steering clear for those who aren’t into this sort of oddity.

Bientot l’Ete follows a player – male of female – as they traverse along a beach and discover objects and phrases. Objects appear in the world randomly, while phrases wash up on the beach and flash on-screen as they do so. At any time they can also return to the cottage at the top of the beach to talk with other players using the phrases and concepts they have learned. It’s very simple, but the strange mix of 90s-era romance movies and Philip K. Dick-style science-fiction is something you don’t see very often. Unless you count The Lake House, which I try not to.

The experimental nature of Bientot l’Ete quickly asserts itself when you do any action besides walking around. Standing near the beach collects phrases which appear above your head. Objects appear on the beach, and using them plays a small vignette related to the item. You move incredibly slow, and yet you can run through the strange world that appears when you close your eyes. It may not be the most expertly executed example of an engaging and experimental narrative, but it’s certainly one of the more interesting games of its kind. You can purchase Bientot l’Ete on the developer’s site.

MirrorMoon

When I was a kid, I was deathly afraid of space. The stark, vast beauty of the night sky both entranced and terrified me. What if I was set to drift alone forever, slowly tumbling through the endless nothingness? What if I was gradually pulled into a sun, or a black hole? What if some mishap cursed me to be the only person left alive, trapped in a silent and barren wasteland? While I have long since overcome those fears, MirrorMoon brought the memories of them back with a vengeance. I have never played a game that captures the simple and dangerous beauty of space quite like it.

There is very little context as to what MirrorMoon is about, thus forcing you to find your own meaning. You explore a barren single-color planet while looking perfectly forward the entire time. As you explore, you gain upgrades for your tool which allow you to interact with the moon floating in the sky. Coincidentally, the objects on the moon hovering in the sky correspond to the objects scattered around your little planetoid. Since you can’t look anywhere except straight forward, this mirrored moon must be your guide through the world.

It’s a game where nothing is really explained to you, and everything you discover is found through simple curiosity. There are hints hidden via audio-visual cues, but for the most part you will only find your path by experimentation. The stark visuals and haunting ambiance will also set your nerves on edge, so while you fiddle around you might feel like something is watching you or creeping up on you. Don’t worry, it’s just the paranoia talking. You can download MirrorMoon from the developer’s website.

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