I mentioned Murray Lorden’s work fairly recently after a game jam game where you play as a werewolf caught my eye. He now has a new free/pay-what-you-want project called Secrets of the Waves [itch.io page] which has you bouncing round the ocean on a treasure hunt. I say bouncing because the current ship is very simple and very bouncy, but I wanted to flag the game up because it has a really lovely sense of place, particularly thanks to the addition of a storm in the mid-section of the game.
It’s not a complex experience from a player point of view. You’re following compass directions until land looms ahead and you find the stone which gives you your next heading, so in some ways it’s just about holding the forward key and maintaining a direction. But between this and Werewolf in the Wild I feel like Lorden has a talent for imparting the key elements of an experience. So Werewolf in the Wild was cool because it had that sense of looking through something else’s eyes. This is cool because there are moments where the storm feels like it has the power to overwhelm or dwarf you, despite the very basic nature of the activities and of the other art assets in the game.
For me both of these experiences feel more like sketches, honing in on some core elements and slotting them into a framework to see how they fare.
That said, Lorden’s blog explains that he intends to come back to Secrets of the Waves and work on adding or improving some bits:
I’m planning to come back another time and work on…
A new boat model that’s deeper, and can therefore sit in the water better. A cloth sail, and perhaps even proper simulated sailing mechanics, with the player having to catch wind in the sail to move. Detailing the environment with more decorations, trees, grass, ruins, etc. Add more other islands and objects of interest in the ocean.