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Rating: 4/5 (129 votes)
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TrickyJanuaryThe passing of a season always makes me nostalgic for it. Lord knows that I'm never too thrilled with skidding my Honda on the icy roads of winter, but now that the May flowers-bringing showers of April are upon us (in the Northern Hemisphere, at least), I find myself wishing for one last walk in a swirling frozen cloud of flurries. While Chione is quite unlikely to heed my prayers, I can take solace in January, a musical piece of interactive art from Rich Vreeland. It's an impressive debut release that impressively captures the beauty and melancholy of a walk of a blustery winter's evening.

January is a game that must be played with the sound on, preferably in a darkened room. Using the [arrow] or [WASD] keys you move your toque-clad player-character through a monochromatic landscape. After a bit it begins to snow: only a few flakes at first, but eventually a blizzard fills the sky. Holding the [up] key sticks out your tongue to catch a snowflake upon it. Catching a snowflake plays a MIDI note, each moving around the scales by an algorithm that I'm sure quite impressive. Every so often, a piece of text is displayed, altogether forming a poem about the transience of the seasons. And so it continues until the sky gets dark and you return to your warm house for a nice cup of cocoa.

I think that January will be a love it or hate it kind of experience. Me? I love it, but I can definitely see why others might think it too slow, too short or too aimless. Indeed, there's not much to see after your first walk through. However, even knowing that, I find myself returning to January whenever I need a quick de-stressing. Indeed, I think it functions best as a respite from work or other games: a five minute walk that leaves tension behind in a flurry of poetry. Not that it doesn't have merits all its own: The music generation engine at the center of the piece is intriguing both for the intuitive presentation and for the demonstration of programming skill it embodies. Artistic games using 8-bit graphics might no longer have the novelty value they once had, but the aesthetic is fitting and captures the subtle ambiance of winter's gray. So come, take a walk in the snow with January, then hope that Vreeland has some ideas for the rest of the year. Personally, I can't wait.

Play January


I'm not usually into the "interactive art" stuff very much, but I liked this one a lot.




My high score is 110


When are we going to get an interactive art game that doesn't try to depress the hell out of the player or at least tries to do something new?
The first few were okay, because they were the first few. They were new.
Now these are just boring and unoriginal, nobody is even trying to make a good interactive art game anymore.
They grab retro graphics, soothing tones and mash it together with no effort at all.


Oooh, well done.

I don't think I've played something that evokes a moment so well.

Chiktionary April 15, 2011 9:09 AM

Simply lovely.
: )

Anonymous April 15, 2011 11:12 AM

Very strange... Rather ethereal. A little creepy.


Dude just ate a lot of snow. I mean A LOT of snow...


Anyone else get the feeling that January was a person?

AbortTheMission April 16, 2011 1:15 AM

yeah thats kind of what i was thinking David.... I'm still not sure... it was very nice. i got 180.

Foreversh April 16, 2011 8:45 AM

If I walked too close to the edge of the screen, I had a tendency to miss what the words were. Perhaps if there was someway to set the text so that it doesn't get cut off?
Of course, I could just stay in the middle of the screen, but still... Just saying...

I really don't understand what people are saying about it being depressing. It doesn't seem all that depressing to me~
Reminded me somewhat of Electroplankton ^_^


nice experience but I also was unable to read a lot of the text as it was off the side of the screen, or indistinguishable from the snow-covered house.


Wow. O: I got to 150 just standing there listening to the music... :}

Amazing~ *applause*


I got to 200 before I got bored. It's very nice and pretty, and I'm sure that it does have some meaning behind it, but it's gameplay is lacking.


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