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Glitchy cityscape creates moody moments via pixelation

t- e ni hтm-are of·`a c   ty ▯ th_ught 'i kиe w

t- e ni hтm-are of·`a c ty ▯ th_ught ‘i kиe w [Itch.io page] is a moodpiece by Pol Clarissou. I’m assuming it is pronounced as “The Nightmare Of A City I Thought I Knew” but young people and their linguistic trickery mean I’m not going to stake my life on that. (I have no idea how old Pol and I are relative to one another, but the other day I mentioned Livejournal and felt ridiculously out of touch with Young People). Nightmare is part of Ambient Mixtape 2016 – a project where developers were given the same first-person camera controller and the theme After Hours with which to work.Nightmare is this glitchy, shimmery nighttime cityscape with towering buildings, rushing cars and the sploshing and splashing of rain. As you move the landscape becomes pixelated. You have to stop to reorient yourself and let the world slide back into a comprehensible shape. Even then, you look at the buildings and start to notice a shiver of pixelation pass along the world. The overall effect is of a character struggling to focus and a world which may or may not be real.

For me it was a bit like drunk nighttime London in winter, but not Christmastime when I first spawned in. Maybe somewhere around Westminster where the tube exit spits you out into a world populated by those elongated lit windows of the Gothic revival. Or maybe it’s Kingly Street which runs parallel to Regent Street and Carnaby Street, just south of Oxford Circus.

There are also elements of that unreality you might know from standing on platforms and suddenly becoming aware that there’s nothing standing between you and the tracks. The tube train actually arriving and waking you out of that troubling reverie was something I remembered when investigating the cars which run through Nightmare. If you get close they zoom past as a flash of headlights and the world pixelates for a few seconds – it’s that strange rush of unreality I associate with those moments on the tube platform. Or maybe it’s closer to that swirl of dead leaves and plastic bags or the splash of puddle water a fast car can leave in its wake.

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Philippa Warr

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