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  • Writer's pictureAVIROOP ROY

Walden, a game.

Samuel Walden is essentially a gaming version of Henry David Thoreau's most famous book of the same name published in 1854. The game like the book is a kind of a journal of the author's time living self-sufficiently near Walden Pond on the outskirts of Concord Massachusetts in gaming game terms it's a first-person open world exploration and survival game but this doesn't really do the game justice's also a work of philosophy in sense that imparts a particularly thoughtful view of the world and of living we'll get back to talking about the row and its work a little bit later but first of all, let's talk about what you do in this game and surprisingly there's quite a lot of stuff that you have to get along with for example, you need to stay alive. Finally a game where there aren't any zombies jumping out from behind the trees or vicious animals looking to tear you apart you need to fish in all of you you'll see that little red blob in the the bottom left-hand corner that's your food meter and if you don't eat every day then you'll become ill and I didn't die at any point when I played it but that's because I carried on eating so you have to do some fishing you also have to, especially in the summer months this game by the way goes all through the different seasons and obviously, in the winter, it's a lot more difficult to forage than it is in the summer for example in the summertime where the game starts it's quite easy to find berries that will keep you going at least for a short time. As you can see there if you right-click on anything or any plants that you see you can find out a little bit about it a little bit of what the row has to say about it and you can help yourself to any of the goods of nature. There are also other jobs to be done such as splitting words for fuel to stay alive. It's interesting that part of what the row talks about in this book was the necessities of life in that you need to stay warm and it's the shelter's need to take stairs and these are things that you have to play during the game the lot of it is simply looking around and enjoying the fruits and the bounties of nature the row was in love with nature and you spent a good deal of his time with nature exploring it appreciating it writing about it and you'll hear what he has to say this is a part of the game where you can get into a boat and hopefully, one side of the pond to another and it's really a fast travel device in case you don't want to walk there's no job that you have to do and I felt that it would be a good idea to do this in the late summer and early fall which is to plant a bean field something that the row also did I guess he was really into his beans I'm not a future fan myself but I do like to stay alive and so you have to get out into your little bean patch and weed it and plant beans before the winter chill becomes another job you need to do early in the game. At least, it is to build your heart through spend about 85 bucks in today's money on timber and tools. He went out and he built his own heart and you have to do the same after it's built. It's really just a question of maintenance but those are the those are the doing parts of the game. It is also about seeing, listening and observing. As you go to the game you find these arrowheads. They will anticipate lapis sunrises done but if possible Nature herself. How many mornings summer in winter before yet any neighbour was stirring about his business. Have I been about my and here we come to an old wrecked boat we learn about from picking up another thoroughly one day I came upon the mouldering wreck of a boat besides gone and hardly more than the impression of its flat bottom left into the rushes yet its model was sharply defined as if it were a large stick he patented his veins it was as impressive a wreck as one could imagine on the seashore and had as good a morale so Walden lovingly create recreates the world of the row in 1945 he moves from his gospel home into that cabin in the woods that we saw earlier he was seeking to find a meaningful life and he spent two years fishing and cultivating beans and otherwise living off the land we see here some of the things he would have seen at that time such as ice that was packed away for the summer he also spent time with other people here is his friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson who sends him on little chores that can help him to earn money for example the game tries to follow some of the events that occurred during Thoreau's time which included spending a night in jail he refused to pay his taxes as a protest against the Mexican-American war and was only let out because the candy ants paid those taxes for him against his wishes to roam was a thinker but also he was a writer and an activist and he was someone I think who is relevant today in some of the concerns that that we have here he is visiting Concord which you can do it anytime there's a store there where you can go and buy much-needed things but just to go back to my earlier points the row felt that life becomes too complicated this was a time of great technological change in those days it was the railroad was telegraph but we still have a great technological change today and a sense of loss I think what you had to say about it simplicity of life has some resonance today and that's certainly the view of the people who are making this game which is the University of Southern California's game labs game Innovation Lab led by Tracy Fullerton.

Fragments of Him.

Fragments of Him work for me on several levels, although it is not entirely successful with what it does. There are four main characters in the game. The main person is killed in the very beginning in a car accident, and the game then spends about 25 to 30 minutes with each of the remaining three characters. His boyfriend who is devastated by the loss of his first love becomes his friend after the accident. In all of this scenario and she's kind of you know what if I'm so glad that I met him type scenario and his grandmother who loved him as a child but then struggled with his sexuality and have had a kind of a tense relationship with him. Since the best things that come out of fragments of him is its philosophy on life love death and remembrance it actively encourages you through some of the visuals as well as the story itself to not bury memories of people that you've loved with it, then passed on so that you can pick them up and take them with you and I the clues in the name of the fragments it's building pieces of memories back together again so that you can keep that with you and carry that with you. It doesn't mean you don't stop living for what's out there now but you can still go on into the future and I found that that was a really positive message that the game continued to show me for throughout its time and particularly in the final third act with the boyfriend, his story I think visually and gameplay wise and it all came together and that section of the game is by far the strongest element of fragments of him. The voice acting worked really well too so each character sells itself quite well and the script itself and what they're talking about works well for what it does - the other thing that it talks about is around how you know in memories kind of they pop out of the blue and you're thinking why am I thinking of that because it feels really inconsequential. This game is built around a lot of those types of memories but what that doesn't mean is that it's a really enthralling story in particular the section with the grandmother there's this ongoing rail that she has around Princess Diana coming out with an affair in the mid nineties but it seems so inconsequential and over-the-top, it's made into like this big moment and even she's going "I don't know why I remember this but I was kind of thinking" we've all felt like we've missed the entire point here but I get what you're trying to say there could have been a better way to have done it and there's a lot of the first half of this game is full of that type of storytelling. Which I think will put people off on the long term and maybe not necessarily sell the message going home for me this type of game is like really chill canned cheese, you'll either love it or you'll hate it and I don't think there's going to be too many people like me in the middle it reminds me very much of That Dragon Cancer which was on PC which was again a visual novel following exactly the same type of cues going around clicking on different objects progressing the story and selling a mood and that's what fragments of him does, selling the mood of post-death loss emptiness and a void but then actually it's selling a positive message at the end of it That Dragon Cancer didn't necessarily have that positive message for everyone. But at least I think with fragments of him where I think it's slightly more successful in terms of giving a story and a projection of what it wants you to come up and take away with the game it sells that end point much more efficiently and effectively.

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