Sean Hogan recently released a demo for Even The Ocean, the game that he is developing with artist/writer Jon Kittaka following the release of the marvellous, mysterious and melancholy Anodyne. The fruits of a cursory glance suggest that the game is a lo-fi platformer with survival and crafting elements – a genre most of us are intimately familiar with, whether through exploring Terraria or bounding between the stars. That first glance doesn’t reveal Even The Ocean’s depths though – it’s actually two games in one, a narrative adventure and a parkour platformer with a central energy conservation mechanic. Take a look. Have a play.
Anodyne’s Zelda-like appearance cloaked a thoughtful and beautiful story, which tapped into surrealism in ways that go far beyond the usual Dutch angles, gibberish dialogue and out of place industrial pipes. It’s a clever game and I suspect that many of the people who still haven’t played it would find it taking up a prominent place in memory and mind should they give it a chance.
Whatever came next was sure to be of interest and while Even The Ocean’s video doesn’t instantly grab me, the press release contains some intriguing snippets.
Even the Ocean is a video game for the computer (Steam, etc.) that is comprised of two games, thematically related and mechanically similar, present within the same game.
In this longform platforming adventure, explore and learn the nature, boundaries and future of an fantasy world with diverse landscapes. Balance your energy bar to modify your horizontal and vertical movement speed as you travel through the world of The Ocean, carving your own style of travelling through The Ocean’s many areas. Exploration contrasts linear, low/high tension “Gauntlet” areas, with more open-exploration, ambient/atmospheric exploration “Nature” areas, complemented by the presence of various NPCs with short anecdotes.
Even is a woman in her 20s in a fictional present-day seaside town: meet and learn about people around her town, as well as explore Even’s thoughts through this slice-of-life walk-and-interact + daydream-exploration-platforming hybrid game that also looks at mechanics developed in The Ocean, but in a shorter manner.
What Jon and I are interested in doing with Even the Ocean is looking at the theme of balance in humans’ every day lives (how one manages relationships, emotions, etc.), but contrasted across two games, The Ocean, and Even, as described above.
Sean goes on to say that Even The Ocean has a more thoroughly planned approach to the integration of theme, narrative and mechanics than was the case in Anodyne.