Poetry is beautiful. Poetry is hipster-ish. Poetry is weird. Poetry is anything you want to be, including eye-searing colours and procedurally arranged music. As spotted by Offworld, Astaeria [official site] is a strangely mesmerizing “first-person exploration game” that feeds on rhapsodic stanzas. Like a Tamagotchi, except with more refined tastes in literature.
More experiential than purposeful, Astaeria feels like a venue for meditation, a place where artistic expression can be turned pseudo-palpable. There’s nothing to shoot bullets or quips at. Only abstract landscapes populated by jagged chunks of floating architecture, all dictated by the poem you’ve crammed into the proverbial machine. Similarly, the music, which is occasionally a bit janky, is married to the same idea. Of course, it isn’t just colours and melodies. The poem you’ve selected takes center stage. As you skulk through these vivid dioramas, lines will blossom in the center of your screen, demanding your attention like a street poet with a particularly loud voice.
Astaeria’s creator Lycaon has helpfully packaged eight classic poems with the game itself, including but not limited to, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, Charon, Jabberwocky, and Ozymandias. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, I recommend breaking from the collegiate mould and sifting through the Internet for more diverse material. Strange Horizons’ crop of speculative poetry [Disclosure: I edit their media reviews] is quite noteworthy, as is Goblin Fruit.
You can pick Astaeria up now for $5.00 (£3.20) from Itch.