quarta-feira, 4 de março de 2020

Blending narrative, art and mechanics in a majestic way: the immersive experience of “The gardens between”

Attention: this post contains spoilers from the game “The gardens between”

I’ve been playing games since I was a child. Now 41 years old, I’m proud to say that I've been a videogame player since the first generation of consoles that were raised on Earth. I’m a lucky person that has had the opportunity to play many kinds of different games in the last 38 years.

Unfortunately, today, I don’t have time to play all the games I want. So, when I’m choosing a game to play I’m very meticulous; I talk with gamer friends, I watch YouTube reviews and I try to read a lot about games. Nowadays, what do I search for in a game to play? I try to choose the minimum of three features: a good narrative, a creative gaming mechanics and an interesting aesthetic. If I can find a game with three of these features, I’ll probably play it with much more enthusiasm and immersion.

The last game I played that filled the three features was “The gardens between”.

I’ll start to talk about the narrative feature: the game is a beautiful story about two children on the last day they have together as neighbors; the boy is moving to another city and the story of the game is about them remembering the adventures of their childhood together.

The narrative feature is the basis for a stunning art direction: the game's atmosphere is full of childish elements but, on another hand, you can notice signs of fear, sorrow and depression. It’s about dark and light; about remembering the past but, at the same time, trying to move on.

To blend the narrative layer with the aesthetic layer we have a very interesting mechanics that uses time travel as the basis for puzzle solutions. The simplicity of the commands are great: you put the joystick to the right to advance the events in time, you put left and they come back to their original places. So, what’s the challenge? The game creates timing distortions to make the player constantly think about the sequence of movements he needs to make. Check the video below to understand how everything connects in “The gardens between”.

In this context it is interesting to say how we have a large list of indie games that can fill the previous features that I mentioned. Today, it’s not a privilege from the triple A games to have great narrative with stunning art and challenging mechanics. By the way, most of the time when I’m searching for this kind of game I’ll probably choose an indie to download.