I post about plenty of walking simulators yet have somehow neglected to mention some of my favourites, the Places series [official site]. Once or twice a year, creator ‘jvl’ releases another little landscape, a sketch of somewhere quiet and remote, and once or twice a year I enjoy wandering around for a few minutes. The latest, Place 6, even has a spot of swimming. So shame on me for not even noticing it had come out until Warp Door mentioned it. For shame, Alice.
The Place are small corners of landscapes. While I enjoy walking simulators where we roam far and wide, Places offer that experience where you find one interesting spot where to sit, stare at, and wander to appreciate from new angles.
I’m always impressed by how real they can feel. The trees are scratchy drawings, two intersecting sprite planes, but at a distance they create a great impression of a wooded hillside. And I really like how the Place worlds fade into the sky at the edges.
I enjoy the inefficient stroke of the swimming, moving with a jolting jerk especially when swimming fast.
I do find the water of Place 6 quite unnerving, though. Looking down and seeing aquatic plantlife makes me think of getting tangled and drowning, something my parents drilled into me as a reason not to swim in algae-clogged park ponds or the rainwater gathered in the hole left by a demolished supermarket. I’ve swam in the sea since childhood and as an adult swim in rivers, lochs, and ponds but I still worry any time I swim somewhere with plants. As they brush against my legs or get tangled in my reaching fingers, I go stiff and try to swim as flat and shallow as possible. The unintended horror of Place 6.
While Place 6 came out in January, hey, now spring is almost here (tomorrow!) it’s a nice memory of what we’re leaving behind. I saw my first buds on a tree last week.