Monday, November 24, 2014

Totem's Sound, the slow and steady dream game.

So it's a rainy night in, you have a bottle of wine, and some time on your hands before everyone starts demanding you pick a movie out for them and you think, "Hmmm, I think I want to lose myself in a good ol' fashioned art game. Something light but not meaningless, something fun but won't suck me into it's vortex..." Ladies and Gents, I give you Totem's Sound.

TS is basically a 1p exploration rpg set along the North West coast of the United States. Players star as Johan Jacobsen, a Norwegian sailor who lived irl during the late 1800's and collected indigenous/native artifacts. So basically the Scandinavian Indiana Jones with less action and more chit chat. The game begins in a little coastal town, quest's present themselves, and Johan begins a Zelda map-esque journey to essentially run errands for artifacts. The game is slow in game play, the story is pretty basic, and the battles with local wildlife are relatively easy.

It's not necessarily the gameplay that makes Totem's Sound such a gem, however...
It's the design.

Spatially speaking, TS feels almost limitless though it is quite limited. The spirit of exploration is not hard to fall into as each new challenge seems mildly dark and frightening, given the anticipation for action on each large-scale map. The graphics feel as if you really are in a mysterious pixelated PNW forest, hunting down native art and attempting to survive along the way. Something about the way the map is created, with small figures and intricately detailed bit art captures the imagination. From the totems, to the characters, to the intricate little houses--- I found myself continuing on to the next chapters just to see what developer Adeline Ducker offered me graphically in reward for my completion.

Soon though, the art was not quite enough to keep me playing until the end. Slow movement and a mildly aimless to-do list, coupled with the inability to break rules seemed to put me in a storybook kind of appreciation for Totem's Sound. It is very pretty, and expertly crafted---entertaining, though? Only for a bit. Play Totem's Sound for the art, the history, and the fact that you probably won't be playing all night.