Have You Played… 2:22AM?

Hey, where'd the moon go?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

I should’ve mentioned 2:22AM in our end-of-year-wrap-up-o-rama. It still lurks in the back of my head, popping into my thoughts at unexpected moments, and I think lots of folks might like it if they knew about it. So I’ll ask: have you played 2:22AM? Masquerading as an eerie late-night public access television broadcast, it feels more like a dream than any other game I’ve played.

2:22AM is a semi-randomised string of scenes, mixing interactive bits with fuzzy video and cryptic caption cards. You might watch flowers in the wind, dig a grave, roam an empty but noisy city, chop vegetables, fly through space on fire, watch security footage, fry an egg, stare at a steaming shower, and ascend a vast ladder into the sky. It’s all familiar yet alien, abstract, unreal, and a little sinister. A vein of violence runs through parts. All sound is quiet and gentle, over the fuzz and crackle of a VHS tape.

Repeated playthroughs become even dreamier. Certain scenes will always appear, but new ones will rotate in too and some might be changed. Moons become cubes. Plinging balls which rained endlessly now run out. Empty fridges now house a tree or the Moon. Like dreams, it’s familiar things in a familiar arrangement but altered and added to. Recurring dreams are my favourites.

I recorded one of my 2:22AM dreams for your viewing pleasure last year, even staying up until 2:22 and being a mite tipsy to really get into it. The randomiser threw out a selection I wasn’t entirely pleased with but hey, I wasn’t waiting a whole day to record another.

6 Comments

  1. Craxel says:

    Yikes! Reminds me of the day I played through Kairo on the Rift with a head full of ketamine.

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    Bluerps says:

    I have. I have also seen your video, which is actually not that different from playing the game (so I kind of feel like I’ve played the game twice).

  3. Gwilym says:

    I loved so many things about this, but for me the ‘crackle of a VHS tape’ managed to undermine all of them. I heard it as record crackle, which was incongruous, clichéd, and gave the entire thing an air of cynical creepypasta. It’s an unfair overreaction, but it single-handedly tainted the sense of ambiguity, making each element seem deliberately chosen to ‘freak us out.’

    I know! And you’re right, it’s probably meant to be VHS artefacting, so it’s just a production gaffe: tapes don’t crackle, they hiss. Creases in tape will make crackly noises, but not in a constant loop like this. Only records do that. And because someone once decided that record crackle is a cheap shortcut to ‘atmosphere,’ a weird piece of art now smells vaguely of cliché.

    There’s a lesson somewhere here. Possibly just that I’m finicky and pedantic.

  4. MojaveMusic says:

    I tried to and it kept crashing.

    -shrug-

  5. Stopsignal says:

    It’s really late and i tried the game, and wow it’s fantastic. I’d love to share what i saw and felt but i’d prefer to not spoil anything interesting.