In The Pause Between The Ringing is a ghost story, and like all the best, it’s an exploration of things left unresolved. It follows developers Studio Oleomingus’ tradition of wrapping stories inside meta-fictions, but leaving just enough room for the real histories to shine through.
But here, the phone’s going, and it’s for you.
The sound design in this game is truly excellent. That phone’s making my brain rattle, but somehow when it’s later folded in as part the background music the sharp edges are filed off just enough to make it pleasant.
It’s also probably the only game that’s managed to jump scare me while I was simply reading text on a screen, thanks to the dramatised slamming of a receiver back onto the hook to hammer home a particularly grizzly paragraph.
Outside of the beautifully written text sections, it’s another of Oleomingus’ achingly pretty environment explorers. They’re masters of this glorious look, which is fairly consistent across all of their games. Many of those, like A Museum of Dubious Splendors and Timruk, are fragments of some nebulous whole known as Somewhere.
As Alice wrote, “their fragments of Somewhere have included pages of written history books, photographs which are portals to other places, snippets of histories, plays, museums… layers of reality and unreality stack up with no real distinction between the two.” It’s fascinating, and the various bits are available to leaf through at your leisure for pay what you want with no minimum.
In the Pause between the Ringing is a more self-contained rumination, but if you like one it certainly seems that you’ll like the others. It was commissioned as part of the V&A museum exhibition Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt, but you can download it free on itch.io.