Things have been tough for the indie scene this year. The impact of Covid19 and the subsequent cancellation of every games development/promotional activity has hit indie developers hard. This is where Indie Boost comes in. Player 2’s attempt to right that ship in a small way. Check out these titles folks and help Indie Developers to keep filling our lives with creativity and originality.
Indie Boost – Soon Only the Ocean
2020 is the year that Australia has experienced a cacophony of isolation. Where we are typically used to the sporadic moments of disaster, this year has dealt our island continent a string of calamity that has resulted in months of remoteness and disconnection. Our hearts have burned and blackened in hardwood chambers, only to swell and drown in a sea of confusion. Fingers point, eyes look up and down for answers, and shoulders press back as we press on. The last few weeks have left many on the inside looking out, waiting for the normality that we believe will restart our lives once again.
In the face of the current economic and social plight of our population, it is easy to forget that the earth keeps turning, the land keeps ageing, and our mistakes are the lopsided footprints that sink the soil.
[Soon only the ocean] is a game about the impact of climate change. It is indirect in educating us, dauntless in its message and accepts the risk that its message is considered passive-aggressive if graced with an ignorant touch.
To brush your understanding over this game is to intake the basic concept. You are someone, tasked to oversee the collection of research data relating to a small island off the coast of Victoria. There seems to only be two things that you really need to do – check water levels and walk to the high point of the island to check the weather station. The graphics are impressionist, the music occasionally discordant. The developer labels it as a “walking simulator” and proceeded with a limited release of the game, to end in May 2020. The limited release is to correlate with the measures of time in the game, and the measures of the island as it sinks into the ocean. We are someone to measure how this island dies, and bear witness to a small depiction of our future history.
I could leave my observations at that, because it would match the intent of an observational game and it is really only measured in your engagement. I could input my criticism that the developer continued with its release at a time of a global pandemic, where attention is on our isolation and need to survive.
My criticism inherently makes me an asshole. Hell, I can see that. And the game laughs in the absurdity of my disdain, for which it deserves the most applause.
Buried in the existence of this game, at a time of global humanitarian crisis, is that the crisis doesn’t end. Each day this game is closer to death. The degradation of our environment doesn’t hit pause while a virus invades our bodies. This game is not permadeath – this game exists in spite of you. It continues, and it is not playable ever again. This game is an ecosystem, and it is your choice to do most or minimum. If you choose to do most – take pictures, engage with prompts about your memories of the island and utilise collating these in your notebook – you will have a fuller experience and contribute to the memoriam of the soil slowly suffocating.
In games, the agency of the player is that we get a say. In [soon only the ocean] you sure as shit don’t get a say now. And that is where it gains the most power – turning a walking simulator into a memento mori, and reminding us that when the game departs this world, our voice will still be heard.
[soon only the ocean] pays tribute to the lands of the Wurundjeri, of the Kulin Nation, and all proceeds from the purchase of the game are contributed to Seed – Australia’s first Indigenous youth climate justice network.+
When Sarah was young, her brother complained that she “got through that final level of Super Mario World on a fluke.” Refining this skill, Sarah has continued to be successful purely by accident. Follow her on Twitter at @essieteric.