Mihail has been sick for as long as he could imagine. He has a skin condition which forces him to avoid the sun; he suffers during the day but the day is when Mihail can visit friends, family and fellow villagers. While sunlight saps his energy and drains his life, these connections to others heal his spirit. Digital Dreams' experimental As the Village Turns presents a philosophical dilemma: is it better to have strong relationships or longer life?
Part narrative adventure, part interactive art, As the Village Turns is played using the [arrow] keys to move Mihail around the village and pressing the [spacebar] to interact with the other villagers or, if he's in front of his own house, send Mihail to bed. There are over 1,400 lines of text and each day Mihail's energy bar grows shorter while every conversation shrinks it further still. In order to see all conversations to full fruition, when the game is over, you'll want to start again. There are two general endings yet many more possible paths for conversations (and relationships) to go, almost in a Groundhog Day sort of way.
While it's probably not as controversial as Loved, As the Village Turns does broach some touchy topics about religion, life, and the choices we make. Unfortunately, it lacks a strong sense of achievement and one of the endings tends to meander overly much. That's made up for, though, by the unique style, superb artwork and intriguing premise. Plus, there's much to ogle and enjoy in As the Village Turns—layers of nuance, story and graphical artistry work together for cogent effectiveness. It's a different game to all who play it—much like each day of our lives.