Return To Sender: Fakteur
I could describe Fakteur in such a way that you'd expect it to be the most charming game you've ever played, with dark edges bristling behind the cotton candy exterior. The player character is a postman, pleasingly poised atop a bicycle seat rather than chugging around in a smoke-belching van. Those things are hazards - zipping around country lanes at an unsuitable rate of knots - no matter how adorable the black and white cat in the passenger seat might be. Perhaps it's simply the fact that the game is French (with slightly iffy translations), but I was reminded more of Jour de Fête than Postman Pat, even though the pace here is sedate, the world crafted from paper and the situations melancholy. It's a free game in which letters change lives and the postman has the power to manipulate the mail.
Despite appearances, the bicycle is on rails and there's no real sense of exploration. There is only forward motion - the postman cycles to a house, speaks to the inhabitants, then moves on to the next. The interactive elements come into play after the day is done, collecting new letters, reading their contents and deciding which of several possible variations to deliver. Do you choose the harshly worded missive or the vague greeting? Will the contents make life better or worse for the recipient?
It's easy to read the results of each letter because the world changes to reflect the moods of its inhabitants.
Fakteur is a decent concept but, like the imaginary paper that makes up the quaint buildings and trees, it's a rather thin experience. Worth a visit, for the music as much as anything, but the concept and aesthetics are more impressive than the content.
Spotted via the splendid Indie Statik