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Borges 'Em Up: Intimate, Infinite

The Garden of Forking Paths

If I were to recommend one author to people wot like games, it'd be Argentine short story writer Jorges Luis Borges. Oh sure, video games crib from loads of fantasy and sci-fi authors, but that's all set dressing. Borges is closer to what games are. His stories are often systems--rules, puzzles, and riddles--and concepts as much as they are narratives, all supporting each other. And, like the best games, his stories end once they've satisfactorily explored their ideas. Many devs I know dig him.

Intimate, Infinite might be a mite puzzling if you don't know Borges, but I liked it. Released this week by Robert Yang (who did splendid interview-o-game-make series Level With Me for us), it's an experimental collection of games adapting a Borges story or trying to capture some part of it.

Intimate, Infinite is based on The Garden of Forking Paths, a story about a WW1 spy that's also about an "infinite" novel where histories and timelines overlap and fork and converge and loop. Yang's adaptation is a series of three main parts which are repeated, revisited, and changed--a linear walking bit, an idle game of nonsense chess, and a garden labyrinth puzzle. And some bits with a gun. This was possibly the first time that firing a gun in a game made me jump, startled.

As Yang himself says, "it is somewhat experimental in nature, so I'd advise players to be, um... patient." It is. You already know whether that'd interest you or not. He made it for a long 'pageant' game jam on the theme "series" through the makega.me forums.

If you do dig Borges, keep an eye on Somewhere too. It's a first-person stealth sort of thing inspired by writers including Borges and Italo Calvino, and is flipping gorgeous t'boot.

Intimate, Infinite is pay-what-you-want on Itch.io. Labyrinths, a collection of Borges' short stories and essays, is £7 on Amazon, about that much in a bookshop, or less second-hand (DRM-free).

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