By John Walker on May 16th, 2013 at 3:00 pm.
“Remembering is a poetic exploration game driven by sound,” says the description of a short indie project from SonicPicnic, Monobanda and In-Visuals. Further “an audio driven exploration through a dreamlike world.” And as with every single audio-based game, its press release announces that it will “break new ground”. It’s odd – Blindside did the same a couple of years ago, declaring itself the “first” game of its like, despite there being hundreds of the things. Anyhow, their lack of perspicacity is not necessarily a blight on the games themselves, and you can play Remembering right now, for free.
The initial goal this time isn’t to simulate blindness, but to try to capture the sense of a half-remembered dream, the audioscape intended to provide you with space to fill in the images for yourself. They say it’s inspired by Proteus and Dear Esther – although neither seems too appropriate. You can see that they’ve perhaps been inspired by Proteus’s sound and sparkly patterns. But there’s no sign of any sophomoric poetry anywhere.
For me, it doesn’t work for a couple of reasons. One is mechanical: even in fullscreen mode it doesn’t capture the mouse cursor, so if you’ve a second monitor you’ll endlessly be clicking out of the game in the most infuriating way, and it crashed for me after about the fifth time. And more personally, it feels like a jumble. You move extraordinarily slowly through a deeply ambiguous space, toward globe-shapes in the distance that crawl painfully slowly toward you. As you go you certainly do hear all manner of fantastically well mixed and produced sound effects, which change and merge as you move about. But not in a way that I ever found meaningful or evocative.
If anything, I think the game’s biggest mistake is its sparse prettiness. It’s visually appealing, too much so, such that it detracts from the audible experience. If you’re supposed to be focusing on what you’re listening to, then the emphasis should be there, not the pulsing shapes that occupy the space. In the end the sound feels like whatever happens to be playing as you move toward an orb, rather than the purpose of playing. Perhaps you’ll have a different time with it, enjoying exploring the audio as it shifts and changes, the echoed reactions to mouse presses varying as you change area.