Standing on top of a mounting, looking out at the world, he ponders. His mind reaches out into vast terrain as he stares at the land, he, his father, his grandfather, his children and grandchildren have all walked; he wonders the meaning of mans folly. A battle of economic hardships, the latching on to the love of person, the playground squabble in the house of commons, it’s all just noise distracting from the truth of the world, we are all dead. And like what came before, we will be swallowed up by the land, to be dug up by who is to follow and to be drunk out by earths next inhabitants. We are antiquities ready to be unearthed by relics.
Atmosphere can tell a tale all on its own, yet what is atmosphere? It’s a combination of sights, sounds, lighting, tension, though in itself, atmosphere remains an ambiguous concept. We often talk about the atmosphere or mood of a piece of art, but we never really try to understand what definitively makes us think of that mood. But mood or atmosphere can occupy your subconscious and it’s then you realize that, this story is you; Annwn: The Other World did this to me.
Annwn: The Other World or ATOW (for the cool kids [it’s not, I just completely made that up]) is marketed as a surreal strategy stealth game. Set in various procedural archipelago islands, you journey through the Celtic Otherworld to search for your lost love amongst the meandering souls and questionable gods.
The world has been developed in such a basic way, with the land, trees and monuments have been generated with a blocky look, there is no curvature. Additionally, the color pallets and tones are all cool, not oppressive but that there is something brewing in the ether. Everything is recognizable, it’s just ‘off’ so it tickles that subconscious part of your brain making you think about the nature of this place more. Yes, it’s an island but what is it for? Why does this place exist?
You start off in one spot of the island, with an all-seeing eye above staring amongst the land from above. You look from a first-person view; it’s here you can select a square tile on the land. You need to select a square that’s occupied by a tree and you must suck the life force of the tree. Now with the life force, you can erect a totem which allows you to move your view to that totem to see more of the land. Though after a while. the all-seeing eye finds you and sucks your life force.
Sounds all a bit strange, well, that’s because it is, though strange isn’t bad. If anything, strange is good, strange is different, different is progress. Unfortunately, I wasn’t very good on the game and died pretty much as soon as the all-seeing eye looked his gaze on me. Though clearly an experimental game, it’s laid back feel can make this appealing, not to take away from the game’s artistic integrity, it’s a great hangover game. Yes, this is not for everyone still, I can’t imagine big Fortnight streamers giving up stream time to play this (because it doesn’t pay them [yeah, I said it and what? sell outs]), you still have to have an open mindedness to appreciate it but it has much going for it. Whilst playing it, I was reminded of the PlayStation one era of puzzle games, these unique experience like Intelligence Cubed or Mr. Domino.
Annwn on the surface seems basic, from its graphics to its plot. It’s in that basicness that your mind reaches for more. Does sucking the life force of the trees to build monuments speak about mans quest of tearing down nature? Is the all-seeing eye a metaphor of business oppression on a society class lower than itself? You can’t help looking for a deeper understanding. What is the meaning of the game? What is the meaning of this preview article? What is the meaning of you reading it? What is the meaning of us gaming? What is the meaning of all of this? The answer: Nothing; We are antiquities ready to be unearthed by relics.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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