To What End
48 hours might not seem like a lot of time, but for Michael Molinari (OneMrBean) and Chelsea Howe, it was enough to create this surprisingly evocative little piece of experimental interactive-art-meets-platforming, To What End, made for the Global Game Jam. You control purple puzzle piece leading a troop of happy, bouncy puzzle friends across a simple, idyllic little landscape with the [WASD] or [arrow] keys, which is also how you start the game incidentally. Your friends will follow you as you jump around... right up until something prevents them, and as the sun begins to sink below the horizon, you begin to realise you might have to leave some of them behind if you want to keep going, since the game ends when the day does.
But where are you really going anyway? And is it going to be worth it if you have to get there alone? That's what Chelsea and Michael are trying to make you think about, and whether they succeed is largely up to you. The visual style here is very clean and sparse, and yet surprisingly lovely at times, and the way your friends will sometimes leap and play or cuddle up to you in certain spots manages to infuse otherwise emotionless set pieces with a lot of personality. The gameplay here is exceptionally simple, but you do have decisions to make as you head towards whatever "the end" of the game is to theoretically win, which is usually the point in these sorts of things... right? Some may find it a bit patronizing, or not much of a game at all, but To What End is a tiny little experience that aims to make you think and feel about what's important in your life. Sometimes, it can be a lot simpler and a lot closer to where you begin than you might think. After all, some things are best when we get to experience them with the people we love.