Written by  :  weregamer (169)
Written on  :  Nov 18, 2003
Platform  :  PlayStation 2
Rating  :  4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars

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The only computer or video game so far that I would unreservedly call "artistic". Also fun and playable

The Good

The beautiful and just slightly surreal surroundings, the emotionally-charged artwork and story, and the very lifelike animation of the main characters make this game very emotionally touching. It's like a masterpiece of fine art that you can play. The first time I saw the pathos of the little boy holding out his hand to lead the little girl out of danger my heart skipped a beat.

The actual gameplay emphasizes creative thinking over reaction time, and rewards experimentation - there is no jarring death screen if you miss a jump, you just start the long fall, the screen fades out, and you are back to a little bit before the mistake. There is no inventory management beyond finding weapons; all the puzzles revolve around looking at the environment and finding a path through it.

The complete lack of words in most of the gameplay makes the story really revolve around actions of the boy and the girl, and makes their relationship as human beings in a strange and scary place much more touching than mere words would; the actual words in speech from the maleficent being (avoiding a spoiler here) are even more dramatic against that backdrop. Everything in the game is finely tuned to touch you in the heart, not just the mind or kinesthetic sense.

The Bad

Sometimes the interface is confusing. It took me a dozen tries to light the end of the stick, despite the instructions in the manual and more detailed instructions from online sources.

The Bottom Line

Since nearly the beginning of computer games in the 70s and 80s, people have talked about them becoming an art form. This is the first, and so far only, game to really live up to that idea, providing an evocative emotional experience unique to the medium. It's beautiful, it's fun, and it seems way too short when you've finished it.