Firewatch | Campo Santo
I HAVE A QUESTION, WHO WANTS TO WALK.....WITH THESE GAMES?
I Do. All day, Every Day
by Oscar Portillo
The walking simulator has been one of my favorite genres that has made its return of sorts. We can go back to CD ROM games of the 90's with games like 7th guest and Myst where we can trace some of the genres history. While the term walking simulator obviously was not made yet, those games are very much what a walking sim are in today's standard. I understand the controls are simplified for most of the games and you cannot “run” from point A to point B, many of the games also lack modern mechanics. The walking sim might not be everyone's cup of tea, this genre.....walks on the periphery of the gaming community.
The walking simulator offers what some genres are lacking nowadays. Great atmosphere, a deep story, and a lasting impression in my opinion. So many games today go for the instant action, without having to put effort or very little effort. In many games your “power” is combat, in games like Gone Home or Dear Esther, your power is to simply look or your power is dialog. Although perhaps the players biggest power is how decisions will influence outcomes and the environment. I like that as the player we can sit back and absorb a deep engrossing story. The player really has to think about whats is next and what is really going on.
The walking sim can also act as a conduit for new comers to video games. Sometimes we forget that for the older generation just moving in first person in a virtual space can be confusing. With the simple controls it's is almost like “playing” a movie for some people I would imagine.
The beautiful world of Dear Ester
Dear Ester | The Chinese Room
Some of my favorite of the genre are Gone Home. Gone Home opens with the cliche of all story clichés a dark and stormy night. It's 1995, and you're Katie Greenbriar, freshly returned from an extended, year-long vacation in Europe to find her new family home devoid of inhabitants. Where are her parents and younger sister? Figuring that out is the objective as you search through the house for clues. The player needs to activate audio clues to figure out what happened.
Dear Esther is you, stuck on an island by yourself and the narrator. So you are truly alone and away from civilization. Slowly a ghost story starts to unravel and the story starts to take a slightly horror like turn. The graphics are very good in Dear Esther as well, since you can't really interact with to much in the world. The environment can be rendered in a more beautiful way. A shout out to the soundtrack as well, it is haunting but somehow soothing at the same time. My only criticism with Dear Esther is it's only about 90 minutes long, essentially the game can be completed in one sitting.
I am going to add Ad1ft to my favorites, while technically your floating. The experience comes off the same, and really there is no difference in this instance. In Adr1ft you wake up and your space station is thoroughly destroyed. It is up to you to figure out what happened while at the same time try to escape back to earth. The audio diaries and the pieces of humanity left really worked well in this game. The graphics are also some of the best you will find in this current generation.