Connor Sherlock makes some of my favourite walking simulators these days. With bold colours, vast scale, and his cracking retro synth soundtracks, they explore strange places it often feels we really shouldn’t be in. I’ve wandered through mysterious structures on the surface of a comet, through caves and catacombs, and down the valleys beyond a walled kingdom, I’ve rocketed around megastructures and even had a potter through a graveyard. All these places and more are yours to explore in a new collection containing most of the first-person strollers he’s made over the past two years, and it’s currently on sale for only $5. After several hours of wandering this afternoon, and with plans to return, I heartily endorse this.
His walk ’em ups tend to share several characteristics. They’re largely set in alien places, on distant planets or in space (or if they are set somewhere human, it’s largely unrecognisable). They explore big spaces built from rolling landscapes contrasted with stark structures. These structures are huge. Really very big. They’ll show a little of themselves in the distance, poking over a hill or silhouetted, but it can take minutes to reach one. This sort of vast scale is alien to most first-person games and, combined with the simplicity of any structures, even trying to figure out the scale can be disorientating. I dig that.
Many of these strike similar moods of loneliness, lost majesty, and more than a little malevolence. The colours are often intense and blown out in a way that makes me think of old sci-fi and horror B movies, only on a scale they could never managed. This is all amplified by his ace music, warbling moody synths (and occasional piano). The sound is key, tying everything together and elevating it in a way few walking simulators can.
I don’t mean to suggest these are all the same: they’re not. But these aspects echo across his work, and they’re great.
Expecting a certain tone from Sherlock, I was wildly surprised by the one which visits a graveyard in the heart of a city draped in a pink sunset. It’s quite quiet, aside from the musical notes and warblings rising from monuments (a little like Proteus or The Bends). It’s surprising from him and really quite lovely. And another’s run through a flowering forest cloaked by lavender smoke even feels joyful.
Across this collection, he also plays with several different types of movement as appropriate, including slow plodding, low-gravity bouncing, exuberant sprinting, and even the odd jetpack. Playing the collection as a whole, these differences feel quite striking and fitting.
All of these were made for Connor Sherlock’s Patreon, which he runs as a ‘Walking Simulator A Month Club’ delivering new walk ’em ups regularly to subscribers. He bundled the first load up for this collection in December but I missed it then so I’m telling you now, okay.
You can buy the Walking Simulator A Month Club Vol. 1 from Itch, where it’s $5 right now on sale. Or $7 gets you these plus Birthplace of Ossian and his and Cameron Kunzelman’s walk-o-story Marginalia.
p.s. do read the readme files for a little fun backstory.