Since I’ve ended up incoherently semi-shouting this at several people recently (sorry, Nat), I’ll save myself the time and write it down: Connor Sherlock’s The Migration feels to me like witnessing an apocalyptic event, and it’s great. There you are, wandering around the surface of some desolate world, only bleached bones and warbling synth for company, when the end comes. Or a beginning. Or… a change, definitely. And then the music really kicks in and oh god, this is terrible, this is beautiful, I’m so glad I’m here for it.
I think The Migration always ends after seven minutes and it is pay-what-you-want on Itch.io, with no minimum price, so you may as well hop to right now. Come on then.
Several of Sherlock’s walking simulators have the feeling of being powerless in the presence of something awful. There you are, alone on the surface of a comet, discovering alien ruins. There are you, surrounded by giant concrete spikes, realising the landscape you’re walking through is intended to be a warning. There you are, alone in the woods, stumbling across impossible obelisks. There you are, in the countryside, beneath a giant UFO.
His games of this kind send us into large spaces where even the scale can be alarming, usually accompanied only by fantastic retro-sounding sci-fi horror synth soundtracks, to feel thrilled by exploration and wholly helpless in the face of what we find. The universe is vast and I am insignificant. I adore it. There’s an Ozymandian sense of loss, except sometimes it’s all so alien I don’t quite know if I’m looking at some fella’s legs or, like, a nice rock.
The Migration is two years old but springs mind lately because it’s short and simple yet the main image is striking. It’s been stuck deep enough in my head lately that in my sleep I see those pillars raining from the sky beneath a blue sun. And when the drums kick in, my heart starts pounding HELL YES IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD LET’S GO.
Also, I think it’s possible to miss the main event? Nice.
If you dig it, I strongly recommend his three Walking Simulator A Month Club collections. Some of those are more mundane, or more urban, or more hopeful, or more joyful, or smaller, or they send you jetpacking, or they let you move with terrible speed, or… lots of different things. They’re on Itch.io now and headed to Steam later this year. Some other nice stuff from other folks in the Ambient Mixtape which spawned The Migration too.