Killing Time at Lightspeed [official site] is a quirky interactive fiction-type adventure game that was created for last year's sci-fi anthology-inspired Antholojam. It's...it's hard to explain. Ostensibly, it's a game about travelling on a spaceship where your only means of interaction with home is via social media. But the further you travel from earth, the longer the delay is between your messages - to the point where refreshing your homepage skips years at a time. Holding a mirror to modern culture, then, the game often dives into some pretty dark and somber themes as you uncover snippets of life in uncertain times. "Just how much can you affect other people's lives with your fleeting interactions through social media?" asks the game's blurb.
The game's Enhanced Edition has just landed on Steam if you're keen to find out.
On Friendpage (a sort-of Facebook-inspired Twitter, if that makes sense) and Skimmit (an article aggregator), you'll steadily learn more about your friends, their lives, their circumstances. As you travel deeper into the unknown, at lightspeed, you'll be unnerved by how quickly things are moving on planet earth, while it feels like your own journey has hardly begun. Technology marches forward at an alarming rate back home, and you'll learn of the pros and many cons this brings forth through the lens of your social media interactions.
What starts out on the lighthearted side, themes of poisonous governments, harassment and the ambiguity of privacy rights. to name but a few topics quickly paint a perturbing picture of the life you left behind, yet somehow miss at the same time. How the game weaves its narrative against the role of technology, namely social media, in modern society is really rather remarkable - even if the game offers less agency than it possibly should.
Like I said, Killing Time at Lightspeed is a hard game to explain and as such is probably best experienced first hand. Its Enhanced Edition introduces a new soundtrack, Steam Achievements and more stories over its original, and here's its launch trailer:
Killing Time at Lightspeed: Enhanced Edition is out now on Steam for Windows and Mac priced £5.94/$8.49/8,49€. If you'd like to try the less substantial, but free, browser game jam version, you can do so be following this link.