Old Man’s Journey [official site] is one of those games which caught my eye entirely because of the artwork. It reminded me of some boardgame artists I really like, as well as some charming French children’s book illustrations I half-remember from my childhood. BUT! There’s now an official gameplay trailer showing how you raise and lower hills to let the elderly man explore new parts of the landscape:
The stick and the pack, as well as the old man’s demeanor made me think of The Meeting or “Bonjour, Monsieur Courbet” – a painting I’m fond of, although that specific strain of fondness is mostly because of how self-aggrandising Courbet comes off in it as he bumps into his patron, Alfred Bruyas. For Old Man’s Journey it feels more like the trope of the wandering Jew meandering its way through art history and literature in various incarnations and settling temporarily as an image in a game.
According to the accompanying info:
“Old Man’s Journey, a soul-searching puzzle adventure game, tells a story of life, loss, reconciliation, and hope. Entrenched in a beautifully sunkissed and handcrafted world, players will embark on a heartfelt journey interwoven with lighthearted, playful puzzles.
“Interacting with the serene and whimsical environment, players will solve puzzles to shape the world around them, growing the hills to create the old man’s path forward. By uncovering the old man’s story told through beautiful vignettes of his memories, players will experience his heartache, regret and hope, coupled with inquisitive, pressure-free, and engaging puzzle solving.”
Old Man’s Journey is set to come to PC at some point in 2017. In the meantime, here’s a rumination on the Wandering Jew trope, libraries and literature.