An indie fusion band invites you to practice in the shallows of a lake. Two stoners ask for advice in a chess game. Partygoers deep in a cave believe they hear a ghost when you talk. I haven't been hiking in a long, long time, but if this is what it involves these days then maybe it's time to strap on those walking boots. If that all sounds like your jam, you might want to check out An Afternoon Rippling - hey, it's free, what could possibly go wrong?
An Afternoon Rippling is the work of New York artist Marcie Lacerte. It's been floating around the festival scene since 2016, but almost three years later An Afternoon Rippling is finally finished and available to play at home. Fancy that.
After breaking down on the highway, a stranger (that's you) goes hunting for help. Slowly, strangers push you in the direction of The Mechanic. An increasingly mythical figure, it becomes harder to tell if they're an old folk hero, a supernatural being, a god, or just a remarkably handsome and useful guy to have around. That's not helped by just how strange these strangers are.
I've never driven (I can't drive) but An Afternoon Rippling feels like every late-night bus ride on a too-hot summer's evening. It's also every quiet conversation I've had with someone a couple of joints and too many drinks down, endlessly fascinated by the minutiae of relationships and our place in existence. Just before becoming awfully fearful of, y'know, aliens. All delivered through the familiar eyes of someone who feels absolutely out of place, taking shots to muster up the courage to talk to strangers. Big same, game.
It may feel deeply of an American space, but when I meet these strangers I'm usually confident we've met before - whether at some painfully indie European show or behind some dingy student bar up north.
An Afternoon Rippling is also awfully pretty. It plays quite straight with bold colours and simple stylings, and there's a little bit of Kentucky Route Zero to it. But every so often - rare enough to catch you out - a beautifully animated sequence will pull you back in. It's all peculiar, in a very comfortable kind of way. I never did find the mechanic.
An Afternoon Rippling is pay-what-you-want (with no minimum) over on Itch, and definitely worth sticking on for a quiet evening.