What is cool? Cool is ineffable. Cool is aspirational but impossible to become. If you think you’re cool, you’re not. Someone, somewhere has surely written a thesis on what cool is, and I just know they introduce themself at parties with “You could say I’m a Doctor of Cool”. This person is a monster.
Keep Walking EP is about trying to look cool in a place where other people seem effortlessly cool. This “chill loner”, as developers YCJY call them, walks or skates down city streets, earbuds blasting music, absolutely fixated on their own reflection. You’ll need to stare too, or you’ll smash into passers-by, falling down in a shower of beer bottles, quarters, and cigarettes. Like cool people carry.
It’s a fairly simple auto-runner/walker sort of thing. The pavement’s split into four lanes you’ll need to switch between to dodge other pedestrians. Collecting a skateboard, naturally, makes you faster. This is made tricky by the fact that it’s played side-on, your big head looming in the foreground, and you’ll need to watch reflections in windows on the other side of the street to spot people. Some lurk in the gaps between buildings, where you have no reflections to spot them.
You’re also looking to collect up goodies along the way: beer, cash, and fags. One some levels you need to beat arcade games too. Each level is as long as a song; Keep Walking does mean that ‘EP’ bit of its name. It’s set to six songs from six bands, ranging from twee indie rock to mellow electronics.
Oh, but enough about what you do. Keep Walking is beautiful and exciting to look at. The city is filled with things to see. Punks kiss against walls, businessfolk hurry about, people sit together outside coffee shops, cars rumble past, dodgy deals go down in alleys, couples stroll holding hands, rats scurry about, motorcyclists zip along with passengers clutching their waist, pigeons peck at vomit, mimes feel out invisible boxes, flies buzz around garbage, buskers cradle guitars, papers blow along, and distant buildings rush past in parallax. These short loops make the city hyperanimated.
Here, have a look at the fourth level:
It’s cool. Most of the people look cool. They have exciting hair colours (some’s faces and hair remind me of Porpentine’s art, actually), wear cool clothes, smoke, go to clubs, and meet friends at vegan burger bars. Their lives look cool.
And you’re staring at your own reflection. Your hood is carefully pulled back enough to expose your hair rippling in the wind. Your shades stay on at night. You’ll skateboard even when impractical. You’re constantly sucking on a cigarette. Your earbuds are in, blasting obscure music. You barely acknowledge other people, smashing into them then getting up and walking on. You must look cool, right? All those cool people must think you’re as cool as you think they are? Even cooler, probably. Look how uninterested you are. You’re a chill loner.
Keep Walking EP is a pay-what-you-want download on itch.io, with no minimum price.