I knew going into this that its a walking about simulator designed to evoke the simple euphoric pleasure of traversing a relaxing enviroment with a musical score formed from your surroundings which sounded pretty good and I knew not to expect any traditional gameplay but after half an hour I have a few bones to pick.
Firstly within the first 5 minuets I ended up trying to explore out into the ocean when I discovered that there is nothing out there and you have to walk all the way back if it taken too long for you to realise.
'Please, explore away little dove! This is your peace garden and you are a butterfly drifting through its serene beauty. Life can feel constrained at times but here you can let loose and breath...'
What if I go over here?
'NO DONT GO OVER THERE IDIOT we didn't make anything over there! Go back to the island!'
Secondly those craggy tower things make a really annoying bagpipe noise whever I get near, is that intentional? Is it supposed to symbolise this dicordant effect the buildings of man has on the natural enviroment? Because maybe you shouldn't shoehorn in your barely thought out ideals into a peace garden game by blaring annoying garbage in my ears.
Thirdly the audio is cluttered in general. When the game is more reserved such as during nighttime or in a bare feild it can be very pleasing however when you are surrounded by trees and raindrops and animals it becomes a total mess leading to the detrimental circumstance where players are encouraged to avoid trees and animals in order to maintain a calming atmosphere. Clearly the point of the mechanics is to encourage the player to explore the enviorment and see how the audio adjusts to the surroundings mimicing the frivolous exploration one experiences as a child when left alone in nature. During gameplay this sensation is interrupted by the audio effects discordantly cutting off constantly and spamming noise in your ears thus detracting from the flow.
Fourthly the graphical style is bad. Minecraft aesthetics dont work here where sharp edges clash with smooth surfaces in a battle for the dominant art direction. Literally all you are allowed to do is look at things and they have the audacity to cut corners in the visuals department. I cant crouch to get a different angle to view things from nor can I jump and climb on things for fun so all I am allowed to do is look at things that look like a concussed infants scrawlings with crayon.
I really like the idea for the game but this is frankly taking the mickey, I am glad I bought it on sale, its worth about two quid. Maybe I am being too harsh, perhaps ill play for another hour and discover the game becomes fantastic but my fingers arn't crossed.
Edit: On second thought this rant isn't over yet! Its not finished yet!
Okay so lets look at this from another direction, lets say the game isn't about exploration its about taking it slow and enjoying the visuals and audio omitting the fact both these elements are weak, this reading is supported by the fact that the game disallows the player from running forcing them to walk slowly and take it all in. Then why did they allow the player to go anywhere they want? If your game is like a 3d picture why have any pretence of freedom at all? I can wander about examining anomalous objects and structures but everything is just a near textureless block or an animal that seems to s**t itself upon noticing me. Everything is far apart yet I am unable to run so exploration is a time sink. There needs to be a new genre for these games about holding down W to look at dubiously pretty things and I opt we call them “holding down W simulators” or “collage art projects” or something because a trend is starting to appear. The only good one is Stanley Parable because its a comedy designed for the player to actually enjoy themselves rather than a pseudo artist trying to show people how clever they are.
Anyway I feel like I started this post relatively positive and ended up... here. So just to raise the mood a little here is how the audio in this game should have sounded.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZLI_uI_Xxo&list=PL930BE4858A1410D9&index=4