There’s a sub-genre of games that have existed since, at least, the days of the original Playstation. Games that have either a very specific, or vaguely defined goal, but with a major emphasis on taking your time. Examples would include Animal Crossing, Tail of the Sun, Noby Noby Boy, Hakuna Matata, and Aquanauts Holiday. There’s no official name for these titles, so I’ve taken to calling them “Chill Games.” And that’s exactly what I do when I play them. It’s an excuse to relax with a controller in my hand.
Last year, I fell hard for the whole “Vaporwave” thing. I found that consuming Cyberpunk and other types of futuristic media helped, if only in the smallest way, in dealing with gender dysphoria and the chronic pain my body often finds itself in. Like, hell yeah, augmenting my own body and losing myself in a pleasing virtual reality sound awesome! The music, the colors, the cool looking technology. It owns.
These two otherwise unrelated paragraphs have led to me playing a game called Halocline.Systems. Halocline.Systems is a short, as of yet unfinished game by the owner of the Post Human Wanderings blog on Tumblr. It is very much in line with “Chill” sub-genre. The difference here being that there is (right now at least) no goal. This is a game where you move around, you look at really cool things, you listen to some amazing music, and relax for a few minutes. Or maybe even a couple of hours.
I would call it a “multimedia experience,” if I didn’t think “multimedia experience” is a stupid term used by tools.
And it’s all the wonderful elements of the whole “_wave” thing that I’ve been escaping to. All the bright pastel colors combined with the cold metal. The altered, synthesizer-heavy tunes that sound like something out of a fucked up dream. That weird feeling that you’re living in an alternate timeline where Sega knows what the fuck they’re doing and have spent the last few decades ruling the video game roost.
I’ve mentioned before that being able to thrive in an environment like that was my ultimate power fantasy. With the absence of guns or any kind of violence, this feels like a place where you would go and hang out after a hard day of not getting geeked.
Another thing that’s been keeping my attention are the eight secrets in the game. Suddenly, Halocline.Systems goes from a relaxing VR-simulation to almost something of an ARG. I’ve been following these cryptic hints, pouring over every clue, trying to solve these “puzzles.” As of this writing, I’ve only found five of them, with the last three driving me insane (or, well, even more insane). This added element of exploration gives the game a second wind, if or when you ever get tired of simply absorbing, rather than interacting.
I listed Halocline.Systems as one of my 2015 Games of the year. It’s different than most games; it lacks your traditional “objectives” and what-not. But I still found it to be pretty incredible, and hope to see more progress made on this game in 2016.
I don’t give games scores, unless I’m being sarcastic. So I’ll just say this: download it, and give it a shot. You’ll probably dig it.