As I roamed the murky, blustery undershelf of the PC gaming dark, snuffling through bright flashes and old command lines, little pinpricks of pixels making freckles over my skin, I heard a voice. The voice was Alice’s, and she called to me from her outpost by the tea-make in Stepney. All of a sudden my hand thirsted for a rein, the noise of the electric plains in my ears; I gazed into the ochre mesas and stacks drifting into the horizon, and with a six-string on my back I plunged through into Owen Deery’s Colt55 desert of frictionless gaze, to find a horse.
Colt55 is a free endless wanderer simulation made for 7DFPS Jam, a game where you merely look at the sky, and watch it yawn as you journey forth. There’s a strong feeling of sand-storm that comes from this game, a feeling like Stephen King’s Dark Tower only better, less clumsily evoked. Like the magic resides in merely walking by the mesas at sundown, like you have a cigarette’s smoke warming your chest, like you can taste the leftover whisky slide from the corner of your lips, like the poncho you are wearing gently flaps at your back as you move through dunes.
The soundtrack is impeccable; enough to make you think that sometimes the talent lies half in the music choice. One winding track of guitar meanderings reverberating throughout your head and it’s enough to have you feel flutters of wind over the burlap in ghost towns. Sometimes, I think, perhaps a track can haunt you so much you have to make a game for it, so that it can find its feet.
More interesting is the FPS element: it makes you ever more aware that you are frustrated not to have hands free of the gun in your right hand, which fires fragmenting white blobs into the stacks and dunes, exploding as you tread on them. But as you near a horse, you might as well forget firing at the sandworms and the chasing detritus.
It’s about the ride, it always was, and who gives a fuck where we’re going. Ride forever.