It’s occurred to me that many of the games that I’ve posted lately have been big pixel fests, and I need to get back to games that aren’t quite so steeped in retrogaming/nostalgia visuals as Ginormo Sword and Kavalmaja.
Of course, I’ll come back to games with an old school feel to them from time to time, but I need to end this streak now, and I couldn’t possibly do so without bringing up two games that manage to go so far beyond their pixelated boundaries.
I speak of the pixel art/art games Passage and Gravitation.
Passage (and Gravitation discussed below) is a download only game, but it’s a small download, and one that will be well worth your time.
To call it a “game” is itself something of a stretch. Unlike most games, the goal is not readily apparent, the rules are not exactly clear, and the reward system available is sketchy at best. About the one thing that is set in concrete is the fact that the game lasts exactly five minutes.
The interesting thing about Passage is that you only get something out of it if you put something into it. If you’re looking for big tests of button mashing skill, or flashy effects, you’re likely to be disappointed.
You’re likely to be even more disappointed if you are searching for some clearly defined message, for there is none.
Instead, what you are presented with is something of a mirror, one that you have to look into in order to see a reflection. There is a message hidden among the big blocky pixels presented, but that message depends upon your interpretation of what is going on and how you feel about it.
It also depends on your willingness to try play several times through and explore the subtle nuances that the game has to offer.
Like Gravitation, Passage ostensibly intends to provide the player with insight into one’s own life, creating a scaled down model with which to test drive various themes and approaches. I resist to go too much further in depth because to do so would be to impose my own views upon what is going on, but if I were to provide the faintest brushes of thematic intent here, I would have to use the words “success” and “relationships.”
Of course, this comes from my own interpretations of the game, and I don’t want to rob you of yours.
Many will and have scoffed at the game as pretentious nothingness, the video game version of the abstract painting that is really nothing more than a waste of canvas and oils. Others will try to “get it” and fail.
Personally, I’m not fully sure how I process this game, though I think there are specific moments that are poignant and moving, and I think during a few of my many run throughs of the game I’ve sat there and done certain things and wondered to myself ‘Will this be me when it happens to me?’
And that’s as far as I want to comment on that.
This game feels more like a game than Passage does, with jumping and various video-game-ish actions to be performed, but I think it’s no less symbolic.
In fact, with the introspective focal point shifted a little bit, I have found this game to be far more moving; hitting a little closer to home.
As many of the things said for Passage could be duplicated for Gravitation, I will add only that here the intent is to look more closely at the relationship between parent and child, and balancing one’s own life with the attention they show for their children.
Both of these games are brilliantly conceived and executed, and if you’re willing to take the extra look inside yourself, likely to create within you motion, and emotion, introspection and insight. Neither judge, and while the intent of both is to convey a message, that message is not thrown in your face, blared out on a movie screen in stereophonic sound, but instead something that is built inside, patched together from pieces of your own emotions and experiences.
Neither lasts long in time, but if you do manage to “get it”, the experience could last for ages.