A piece was submitted this year to the 2008 SBGames Independent Gaming Festival in Brazil that pushed the envelope of gaming and received high initial reviews. Yet, on the surface, the game seemed like nothing more than an awkward, weakly executed platform game. So what has everyone thinking about Estamos Pensando? Play the game, then read our review and find out.
Perhaps it is the interesting paradox that the game explores. "Estamos Pensando is a game about the experience of having someone you love demanding from you things you can't actually do," as its author describes. This unusual little game begins with you being dumped. "Let's end this," she says, and she means it, because no matter how you high you try to jump for her, she won't budge. She wants a man who will go to space to bring her the stars. After that harsh speech, all you can do is grab your dignity and the arrow keys and go.
The controls are rather simple: [up] to jump, [left] and [right] to run, but the controls can be rather frustrating if you ignore the advice in the beginning explaining the wall jump. To use this fancy maneuver, jump on a wall and wait until you start to slide down, with one arm still reaching for the stars. While sliding, jump again and you'll be propelled in the opposite direction. It won't take long to get the hang of it, but as soon as you do, you won't need it any more.
Who says a game must have a happy ending? The designer of this game, Daniel Novais, believes games are diversions, used not necessarily for amusement, but to explore impossible situations. Estamos Pensando, with its depressing story line and meager game mechanics, is not really a fun game. But at the same time, it is fascinating, because it allows us to explore a paradox familiar to anyone who has ever fallen in love. It gently reminds us that we cannot fulfill someone else's desires without sacrificing something of ourselves.
"Estamos Pensando" is a Portuguese phrase meaning "we are thinking." Indeed, this game has some of us thinking. Is there a place in the casual gaming sphere for games that are weakly amusing, but strongly aesthetic? We've seen brilliant works, some artistic, some philosophical, and some downright weird, that couldn't rightly be called games, but still made interesting diversions. Novais' work is a great example of this. It combines simple art, soothing music, and a troubling paradox into a curious piece that demands to be played several times. So, reach for the stars, and experience.