Developer: thatgamecompany, LLC
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Platform: Windows (this version); also: PS3, PS4, iPad, iPhone
Knowing that this game only took a few hours to complete and it won many accolades, I went into knowing virtually nothing. I’m confident just about anyone could do the same.
You find yourself, an agile robed figure, dropped into the middle of a desert with no goal other than to keep moving. While initially that can seem frustratingly vague, the direction (if not the ultimate goal) becomes clear. Even puzzles are simple to solve despite not knowing why you’re completing them, as they are there for pacing and interactivity rather than challenge.
What ultimately keeps the player going is the struggle of the journey. That sounds trite, but it’s undeniable. You just keep moving through impressively gorgeous landscapes, picking up bits and pieces of the character’s history through observation and short cut-scenes (with no dialogue). At the end of the three hours of gameplay I indeed felt like I had been on a journey, struggling along with the protagonist.
From what I hear, co-op play on-line is the way to go if you can do it. Struggling with a complete stranger brings even more meaning to the mission, even if it means a longer journey as you backtrack to help each other out. I’ve read that the PC version struggles more with this than the console versions, so your mileage may vary. The nice thing is that you can take or leave your partner whenever, so there’s no pressure to stay on-line if you don’t have time.