Waggly Wandering: Explore An Alien City In Bernband

My new local.

I’m still pining for Prey 2, but Bernband has sated that desire a little. It’s a walking simulator set in an alien city, all stark architecture, colourful lights, and noise. Lots of noise. Trains roar past, flying cars zip overhead, machinery churns, and crowds all mutter and growl as you gawp at them. It’s a low-fi version of everything that excited me about Prey 2’s world, and you don’t even kill anyone. It’s out now, it’s free, and it has the most delightfully waggly first-person hand animation you’ve ever seen.

Bernband has us exploring “the city of the pff.” Though it’s made of small sections connected by elevators (and other paths I’ll leave you to find), it feels big. You’ll wander from a nightclub to a subway to a skybridge to an aviary, through loud crowds and down lonely corridors, stumbling across revellers, school classes, public urinators, and other strange strangers. All the while, your footsteps tippy-tap and your hands wobbly-waggle. Whatever species we play as, they are adorable.

The low-fi look, a forced low-res filter, blown-out sound, and simple AI drag Bernband so far into the abstract and imagination that it feels jolly real and exciting. I’ve wandered for a good 20 minutes and know I still have more to discover. I’ll find that church yet. Watch out for that mouse sensitivity, chums: it’ll have you turned right round.

Made by Tom van den Boogaart, Bernband is a free download on Game Jolt.

24 Comments

  1. SanguineAngel says:

    It reminds me strongly of the opening to Jedi Knight in Nar Shaddaa, which is awesome for me.

    It looks very evocative and I could easily imagine some wonderfully no/low-violence games taking place here. perhaps a noir mystery? It seems brimming with possibility

  2. rondertaker says:

    im just posting to say how much i enjoy the frequent “walking simulator” posts. i download them all and love most.

    • RARARA says:

      I second this sentiment. Please never stop posting quirky stuff on RPS.

  3. Ross Angus says:

    This looks amazing. Is it anything to do with Strangethink?

  4. Spacewalk says:

    So far this is the one with the best graphics. You found something really great for us this week, it’s going to be hard to top.

    My favourite sight is the empty parking lot because I’ve always found empty parking lots at night dangerously exciting (which makes me wish that there was more to do in this than just walking around. It’d be a great place for a showdown if this was an alien bounty hunting game). Plus there’s underground hip hop aliens hiding in the back. I also came across a green lit alien rave which seemed to be the best point to quit at.

    • cardboardartisan says:

      The parking lot gave me an idea, added to the long list of things to put in the game I’m working on right now.

      Have you seen the trumpet room or the dance performance? I think those are my favorites.

      • Spacewalk says:

        Yeah, and the school room too. Also the chapel, I wonder if Alice has found it yet.

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      This isn’t even an Evening Walk. I’m trying to use that for some sort of introduction/overview/history/look/exploration/thing for walking simulators, which might be a mistake. Either way, I still intend to post new walk ’em ups as plain old news when they stroll past my eyes.

  5. thelastpointer says:

    We need more walking simulators in sci-fi settings. In want to be in the future, man

  6. Viroso says:

    Did anyone manage to find themselves inside the fish tank?

    • Orageon says:

      Yup. Also, I found an alien in a vent duct (either a tramp, or a wounded guy…). You need to jump off at the section where you cross in the middle of a flying car street or something.
      It is cool, but doesn’t take long to see it all. It is although very inspired and very inspiring. A Noir story in that setting would just fit perfectly.

    • cardboardartisan says:

      How do you manage to get inside it? I’ve only seen it from the outside.

      I think the trumpet room is my favorite.

  7. Geebs says:

    Watch the video and try not to say “Blobby Blobby Blobby!” to yourself.

    sorry, I have now ruined it for you :-(

  8. RARARA says:

    I’m suddenly craving more Anachronox.

    It’s been 15 years and I want my sequel.

    • KeeperKrux says:

      That’s one of the reasons I was looking forward to Prey 2. Even though it’s a shooter, the alien world reminded me of Anachronox.

      We’ll never get to play Anachronox 2 or Prey 2. :(

    • Enkinan says:

      Agreed!

  9. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    This is really delightful.

  10. dbisdorf says:

    Loved this one. As soon as I saw that walking simulators were a thing, I was hoping to see a “giant futuristic city” walking simulator.

  11. PerspectiveDesigns says:

    Pretty awesome. My only disappointment is the loading point elevators.

    • keithzg says:

      I’m entirely okay with them, as it seems like a necessary conceit for easily creating this kind of experience . . . but that being said, now I’m really looking forwards to the first time someone does something along these lines without those loading points.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    Has anyone tried this in an Oculus Rift?

    • Gpig says:

      The first few seconds actually brought me back to my experiences with the DK2. It was the feeling of the extreme disorientation of being in a new low res world. That and the fast turn caused by the mouse speed made me briefly sick as I had flashbacks to the experience.

      I could never get past the low resolution and the motion sickness of the DK2, but the charming feel of this game reminded me of my favorite demo from the DK2. You walk on Mars in a space suit in first person, and one thing you can find in the distance is a large obelisk. You can actually look around inside of your helmet which helped alleviate the sickness, and I could focus on the incredible feeling of exploring Mars.

      Bernband is what I wish I found on Mars. As much as I like the empty, desolate spaces in exploration games, they are mainly enjoyable because of what I have. I have civilization. I have noise. I have warmth. I have people. Ishmael says something similar about enjoying the warmth of snuggling with Queequeg under the covers is enjoyable precisely because of the contrast with the cold. The contrast brings about thankfulness and a heightened, almost precious, sense of enjoyment. It’s probably unpopulated wilderness outside of Bernband.

      Wandering through a strange city that I can’t interact with reminds me of the feeling of hearing a live band or a party through a wall. Which reminds me of the feeling of hearing “grownups” talking in another room after my bed time while I was going to sleep. It felt good to know that something was out there even if I wasn’t really part of it and it would soon go away.

  13. Bfox says:

    Can you imagine a Space Quest game set in this type of style