Sunday, April 27, 2014
There's a game on Steam called 9.03m. It's $2, lasts about ten to fifteen minutes, but it's an experience unlike anything else you've played on PC.
9.03m is less a game and more a piece of interactive art. You play from the first person perspective as you walk along a mostly empty beach. You follow a short path of glowing orbs to find a lone figure. Each one you approach vanishes into thin air, leaving a physical item behind. Each item you need to find the butterfly image, which triggers brief information on the object, or a small event associated with said item. There's about half a dozen characters you run into, all of which are shadow-like figures, with no discernible features outside of their physical presence. Like I said earlier the experience ends within fifteen minutes but your satisfaction is through the roof despite that.
No real objective, no actual enemies, and I can't really classify this as a game.
Maybe some context is needed.
This game was released September 2013 as a response to the horrible tsunami that hit Japan in spring 2011. The purpose of this piece of interactive art was to honor their memories in a very personal way. Hence the beach setting. Each item is definitely a personal item. The first person you approach vanishes and becomes a soccer ball. When you pick up the soccer ball and find the butterfly embedded, it reveals a name. The name of what you assume is the child who used to play with the ball. It then vanishes into a burst of glowing orbs like a soul ascending to heaven. Other items include a ring, music box, and even a cradle. Each item had personality and special meaning. It gave character and depth to a game that is such a humble and small project.
But what makes it even more impactful is they're talking about real people. People who lost their lives in a horrible storm and caused many other people to start over. So when you pick up each item you start to image the person or people whose lives may have revolved around it. To that kid, that soccer ball could have been his whole world. The music box featured a spinning figure of a couple dancing. It's all very sweet and tender. And when you finish the game the beach fills from coast to coast with the same shadow-like figures you've been encountering, all of which have their souls represented with the butterflies and glowing orbs scattered throughout the beach.
And then that's it. But I'm not gonna lie, I got a little choked up by the end. It's such a short experience but it only has what it needs to have. Yes you can get games for half the price on your phone that will last hours longer, but this game will likely give you a satisfaction full $60 AAA games won't.
I had pretty much one beef with this game and that was the music. While it was a well put together score, it felt a bit cliche. It had that tone a feel good Hollywood production has. Like the game is telling you to feel sad for what's going on instead of the music being a good accompaniment to the natural sadness you feel from the game's story. But really that's about it. The controls were standard WASD+Mouse like any other first person game. The visuals looked great with the excellent blue tone over the beach. And setting it at night amplified it more than any other time of day.
Seriously, go on steam and buy this game. It's a short experience for a cheap price but is very satisfying. If you have a heart and are willing to try something different then go for it. And go and play it. I can't see watching this on youtube having the same impact as actually playing and interacting would.