Wide Ocean Big Jacket is one of my favourite games I played last year. It’s gorgeous, it’s stylistic, it’s funny. It just has that indescribable something that lends it this storytelling charm.
The story begins with a young man and woman taking their thirteen-year-old niece and her first boyfriend camping, and develops as you inhabit various characters at different parts of the story. It definitely functions more as a colourful and interactive short story as opposed to a game with any sense of “winning”, but it’s tremendously enjoyable and satisfying.
All Turnfollow’s games are similarly narrative-focussed, like Packing Up the Rest of Your Stuff on the Last Day at Your Old Apartment. A game where you… umm… pack up the rest of your stuff on the last day at your old apartment. You choose what you can keep and fit in various boxes and what to throw away, and so much joy comes from the short sentence or two of info you get about each item as you pick it up. It’s so wonderful and personal.
There’s Little Party, where you play a mother whose daughter is throwing an “all-nighter” where her friends fulfil creative projects in different mediums; and A Good Gardener, a “wartime gardening simulator” where you grow crops for a war-effort. As much as it is a short gardening game, it also manages to be so much more.
Hollow Knight is a game full of bugs. In fact, it might just be the most buggy game I’ve ever played.
Its setting Hallownest, a land you will call home for twenty to thirty hours, is a land of bugs. Hidden deep beneath the ground, the untold legends of this place reverberate in its haunting beauty as you traverse long-forgotten graves, pitch-dark depths, and murky fog-filled canyons.
It is also quite possibly one of the greatest games of the last decade. Certainly, this has not gone unnoticed by indie fans, though it might have slipped past your radar had you been hiding under a rock like a woodlouse.
Hollow Knight’s gameplay is part platformer and part get-lost-all-the-time. Its simple combat is easy to begin with but hard to master, with a balance of offence and defense required to handle enemies effectively. Its style as a metroidvania means you will acquire new abilities which allow you to access previously inaccessible areas, requiring some backtracking in general – something a handful of players may find discouraging.
Where Hollow Knight really shines however is in its exploration. Through venturing into Hallownest’s depths, you will uncover a cryptic tale – told in a similar way to Dark Souls: through inference and interpretation – and discover the fate of a kingdom.
Its quite the journey, and if you are a fan of platformers, metroidvanias, or Soulslikes, this is one you must embark on.