In Symon, a point-and-click experimental game that is part of Gambit's 2010 summer prototypes, about a bedridden hospital patient whose only escape from his room is by dreaming. His dreams aren't all happy ones; they're full of hidden meaning, regrets, "almosts" and "what-ifs". You'll have to solve a series of abstract puzzles posed to you by the strange residents of his mind in order to gather various sets of objects that Symon's dream self needs. How do you make a music box melody more melancholy? How do you show someone what it's like to be cheerful? Click to interact with Symon's dream world, and click on items in your inventory to use them. Once you've played it, go back and play it again; the offers procedurally generated content that means you'll see a number of different things each time you play.
What's unique about Symon is that it doesn't make a whole lot of sense in the traditional style of point-and-click games. The genre has always been stereotyped for having obtuse logic, but Symon is operating on an entirely different level; the sort of logic that only really is logical when you're dreaming. Think about it; dreams are rarely linear (at least as we remember them), and are frequently jumbled with symbolism and nonsense. But while you're having the dream, none of that seems strange to you. You think, "Of course the purple cow is the one who kidnapped the General's teddy-bear. Who else would do such a thing?" Symon requires to you put yourself in that particular mindset while you're playing the game, and it's a surprisingly easy adjustment to make.
It's a little disappointing, then, that Symon doesn't really have an ending. It has three different sets of items to collect for Symon's dream self, represented by the set of photos that begin to appear on the wall of the hospital room between dreams, and once you've solved all three, there's no real reason to keep playing, and the game doesn't offer up any sort of closure. Admittedly Symon is experimental, a prototype aimed at creating replayability in the genre. Still, it would have been nice to see the whole thing come together in a way that complimented the subtle stirring of emotion and memory that it evokes early on, rather than never addressing them again. I would dearly like to see the game picked up again one day and polished out with a stronger narrative that made it a story rather than an exhibition.
While it falls a little short of providing the whole package, Symon is still worth a play, both for the oddly affecting imagery, and for a clever new concept that I would love to see explored more in the future.