“co-open” by lowpolis (rayzones & Yaffle), Kyle Yerhot, fricochet, Fallon, cool_swords, Scarlet Winter, Sam Machell, Colin Le Duc, samb_rules, Vinzenz, Autumn Rain, Jerry Vishnevsky, Rémi Le Gallo, aido & Dorian Beaugendre.
“[This] is a game about a kid’s first time buying groceries on their own. Looks like [it is] time to explore and have some fun! […] You can get your ice cream and [vegetables] in a few minutes to rush back home sooner — or stray away from the shelves and find yourself a part of a drawing class in the rooftop park, or an underground snowskating hangout!”
Full disclosure right ahead:
Sebastian Standke used a free key of “co-open”, provided by lowpolis, to play the game and write an article about it.
In “co-open” we slip into the role of a child who goes shopping alone for the first time. We can choose and carry up to seven items in the local store, and then have the nice cashier put them in a bag. Our grandmother comes to pick us up afterwards and pays for our purchase. So after just a few minutes of play, we can own frozen cauliflower, some raspberries, a cat-themed calendar, a delicious piece of cake, strawberry juice, some birdseed, and a mineral deodorant. But if you think that this game is really just a shopping simulator from the first-person perspective, you are mistaken. Rather, it is a terrific adventure and exploration game with a left-progressive setting.
Not only is the store run exclusively by local residents and filled with products chosen by them, but every other little gesture exudes an alternative, cosmopolitan charm. Here, the pronouns preferred by a person are used as a matter of course without questioning their identity in any way, while the word “comrade” is considered an unironic substitute for the term “friend”. Those who need help receive immediate support from those around them. No one is ridiculed because of their own interests, no matter how bizarre they may seem at first. How anyone can do that much worldbuilding in a small indie game whose main location is a tiny corner store, you want to know? On the one hand, through the design of enormously lovable characters and sidequests connected to them, but also through a surreal, almost magical environment concept.
So in “co-open” you can not only stroll through the shopping aisles and put products in your shopping cart, but discover many secret and secluded places – be it an underground snowboarding location, a greenhouse for the freshly grown fruits and vegetables, a park near the library or simply the roof populated by pigeons. Here, various people are waiting for a friendly conversation and someone who can help them with their problems. You will have to track down and draw the artwork of a street artist, then someone else will want you to find their recently lost but dearly loved toy, or you will simply have to take ten seconds so that someone else can be kissed awake by the muse.
“co-open” in this way presents a utopia in which empathy, tolerance and collective cooperation are central. Thus, it is not only a beautiful game – and in its wholesomeness similar to bigger titles like “A Short Hike” and “Later Alligator” -, but also a political one that promotes a better way of living together. It does this without constructing any enemy images, but simply by illustrating the positive effects of its own world model. I am amazed. [PLAY]