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Au Fil De L'eau is a striking picture-book excursion, and free

“Leave your apartment and go on an adventure,” asks Au Fil De L’eau. I’d love to, mate. Getting out of the flat and popping off into a gently warm Parisian evening? That sounds just the ticket. But this is the grey north. We’ve got Portobello, not Paris. I suppose I could split the difference and hitch a ride down the canal in a discarded shopping trolley. Not really the same, is it?

Au Fil De L’eau (over the water, you pesky anglophones) is a meditative little experience by Samson Auroux and Lawrence Steele.

I’d like to live the sort of life Au Fil De L’eau presents: wordlessly agreeing to bail to the country in the small hours. Time, money and weather might not allow right now, but I’ll take this scenic little alternative.

Au Fil De L’eau’s pastel picturebook is gorgeous. A ten-minute experiment in presentation that (largely) fires on all cylinders. Auroux works in panels, starting with a back and forth between the tight spaces of an inner-city apartment before zooming laterally into urban landscapes. As I leave the city the game opens up further, giving me more control over our ride before escaping the panel structure entirely upon arrival at the riverside.

The world shifts in hue as you move, shifting from darkly warm hues in the city through cool mountain passes and welcoming morning woodlands. If nothing else, it’s really quite nice to look at.

Unfortunately, Au Fil De L’eau is often a bit too clunky (and clever) for its own good. I crashed my car more than a few times, and both Alice O and I had a bit of bother with the layout of early panels. Auroux appears to be aware of some of the buggier issues, and that’s why it’s free right now.

“I put the game for free until I fix all problems,” Auroux says.

Au Fil De L’eau is out now on Itch.io.

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