We exist in the world as people defined by the places we go. We go to work, we go to the mall, we go to the doctor's office, we go on vacation. Always thinking in absolutes, we so rarely spend much effort considering the places we pass through on the way to the places we go; the bus stop on the way to work, the parking lot outside the mall, the waiting room outside the doctor's office, the baggage claim at the airport. But what happens in these wistful places where we spend so little of our time? What greater purpose do we not see as we merely pass them by?
Islands: Non-Places, developed by Carl Burton, an award-winning artist and animator, seeks to make the mundane into the fantastical and absurd. While more of an art toy in the style of Vectorpark, best known for Windosill and Feed the Head, among others, Islands: Non-Places is a dreamy exploration of the sorts of liminal anti-destinations we pass through every day.
Parking lots give rise to tiny apartments, cell towers become homes for luminescent mushrooms, their spores scattering to the wind and dotting the skyline like stars. While each scene begins familiarly, such as a simple bus stop waiting in the mist, interacting with the furniture and scenery proves that there is much more to be discovered in the places we might least expect to find such hints of magic.
Set across ten vibrantly colorful, low-poly scenes, Islands: Non-Places is primarily a point-and-click experience, though each scene can also be rotated a full 360 degrees--an integral aspect to the light puzzle element at work in the game. Light and sound act as cues to guide you through the experience and keen eyes will help you more easily find the occasional out-of-place object to advance the sequence.
Though the game is absent of people, the echoes of them remain in the expertly mixed atmospheric, ambient soundtrack scored for each unique location, making each scene so vibrantly, wonderfully alive that even Islands' strongest daydream moments seemed fantastically familiar. Fans of the classic 6 Differences, an old favorite of my own, will certainly feel at home in its absurd, meandering journey through the beauty of all the places we take for granted.
Islands: Non-Places requires a good pair of headphones and about 45 minutes to an hour to fully complete, and is a delightful and meditative way to pass the spare moments between the places you're going.
Islands is available for iOS, retailing at $2.99, as well as PC and Mac, retailing at $4.99.
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