First, some mood music. Just let it play while you read this review.*

It’s late night while I’m writing this. I go outside to get some fresh air. I smell cigarette smoke from one of the old men who are always out smoking. The cars drive by one the nearby freeway. A truck honks it’s horn. A bit irritating as late as it is. I can hear the screams of children out running way past when they should be in in bed. I live in a city and it is anything, but quiet. Even at this late hour is full of the stink and noise of other people. How I hate them. This should be a peaceful time, but they intrude on any peace I could have. Should have? The only thing that would be worse is if they weren’t there at all. Everyone else could just give up on what ever their doing and go away. Then I’d be alone. But what would be the point? Without other people around how would I even define my life?

This is what people do at night. Or so I am told.

Those are the kind of thoughts that go through my head as a play through Quiet City by Increpare. Perhaps not super deep thoughts, but it’s nice to play something that makes me feel something from time to time. Quiet City is not really game, and more an interactive art piece. You wander around a small city unlocking people doing what people do. Playing. Fighting. Living. Dying. After you unlock everyone you go around a second time and get a bit of dialogue as they go away. It’s really quite sad. Children stop playing. Adults become scared of their own dreams. I even found it sad when the smoking guy quit. That’s your “thing” smoking guy! It defines you. Even moving on from bad habits is a change and change can be scary. Or maybe I just overemphasize with stick figures.

Aw, no. You guys were the coolest stick figures. All with your funky beats.

I highly recommend a visit to Increpare’s website. There are ton of great experimental games within. Most are less polished than Quiet City, but many of them share the same combination of surprise and sadness (with a touch of the profane) that make Quiet City work. I’ll have to do a deeper dive into those games when I have more free-time. Just need to keep busy to try to delay my inevitable failure and dissolution for at least one more day.

No matter what you do or how much you enjoy it, you will eventually stop doing it. That’s the lesson here. Play Quiet City! Or just enjoy my full play through below.

*Deceptively difficult piece to perform from an English Horn standpoint. You don’t have any flashy arpeggios or runs to impress the rubes. All you have is your tone. Super exposed. I once played English Horn pretty well. But then I gave up on that dream.

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