I spent a pleasant rainy evening with an elderly woman the other day in Reel [Itch page], exploring her workplace, fiddling with the environment, startling a cat, and occasionally helping her as some sort of benevolent cursorspirit. It’s a nice little short story, quiet and pretty, and it’s free t’boot. No dialogue, no text, just a nice quiet time poking around and helping out.
Reel is an adventure game, I suppose, a few simple puzzles of clicking hotspots, searching for solutions, and mousing past things. The mousing is what I like most. Cursor movement is a physical force in the scene, its motions jostling cans you brush past in a vending machine, rattling a toy capsule in a dispenser, peeling stickers, knocking and spinning things, and catching the attention of a sleepy cat. Good stuff.
I like the fluidity of what we’re controlling and who we’re playing as too. Sometimes we’re an entity beyond the woman, such as when removing an obstacle she can’t even see, and sometimes we’re doing things directly for her. She has her own plan, and we discover it as we help out. A friendly ghost.
Creator Nick Preston says that “the aim is to create the sense that the player is exploring alongside the character as opposed to having control over her.”
Reel is free to download for Windows, Mac, and Linux from Itch. Preston says it’s part of a series of short stories, named Toryansé, and I’d certainly like to see more.