Gossamer (by presolace) is a pretty straight forward experience to me, and that's actually real good.
Walking simulators sometimes tend to be overly grandiose, famous ones, like The Beginners Guide or even Gone Home (that I otherwise kinda like) never know when to shut up; don't get me wrong, text =/= bad, gameplay can be a good accompaniment to literature and inversely and there's no need for a clear, unforgiving division of both, but when the game talks and talks because it is scared of being a drag to its players, or because it needs to feel intellectual, I think there's a problem. There's been good, honest games out there like Proteus or Walking Simulator a Month that coincidentally have a very close relationship with music (maybe because both forms of art do not require narrative to express themselves? or maybe because of Kanaga's idea of games as musical isntruments, as toys). Gossamer like these two great games relies in the interrogation of the player expressed by silence ("In the art of not signifying without falling in insignificance" I once wrote, somewhere).
You appear, somewhere and you ought to move; where do I go? what will I do when my path reaches an end? The questions never reach a definitive answer. However, the ingenuity of Gossamer comes from the isometric perspective, reminding me of the few old games I've played and of RTS games. But the beauty isn't in the nostalgia or the dialogue this game has with those memories I have, but in how it fundamentally changes the 'walking simulator feel'.
You see, most of Walking Simulator a Month and Proteus relies on what you can glimpse at a distance, not about the beauty of the objects themselves. It's more like you looking at something far away and wondering how will it look like up close, and how you're gonna turn back once you're there and look at the place you started: it's more about space and the movement of your character in it, traversing these ruins, these worlds, than the beauty of the objects themselves. Gossamer completely changes this; by changing the perspective there is no "far away" to look at, no path you can follow (even if it is you that made it), sure, you can decide to move all up west, but that isn't because of the world, because a real belief, just because... well you gotta do something right?
Gossamer reminds me of that moment in the Library of Babel when the main character decides to just constantly move in one direction to prove that the library is not infinite, instead of searching for truth as we understand it, written in letters, they find truth in their traversing of the library, be it physical or spiritual. Even if that truth is the finitude of possible knowledge.
Gossamer doesn't let you habitate its fragmented world, you cannot construct a full image of its world and find meaning in it, and by changing the movement keys, from the typical 'wasd' set to point and click, every step you take is a hassle -a point in space that ony leads towards the end of your screen- even if its a straight forward line. And it also has its own special relationship with music, by making it so that every step is a little sound that perturbes the otherwise dreamlike, entrancing (but still fragmented) music.
I give it a Lemon out of Peach.
What is it about cypresses that is so appealing? I just don't get it. December 2019