“Leaves” by Simona Maiorano.

“A young girl escapes from her hometown, leaving friends and family. After many years, she returns to her place… Why does she come back? What was behind her escape? [… A] contemplative adventure game driven by story and introspective exploration. This title aims to push for an emotional connection with the main character evoking feelings and memories in the player.”

Just as every tree tells a story, its leaves also tell one – or at least a fragment of it. That’s the core concept of the storytelling experiment “Leaves”. Just imagine yourself standing in front of a seemingly endless coast. Just like the majestic tree that has taken its roots here, you can’t move away from this point. You can only look around, experience your near surroundings, listen to the waves and collect the falling leaves. If you do so, you will realize that something is changing.

Hidden messages in the sand are getting revealed. Your stream of conciousness will get filled with memories from your past, and you can read it just if it would be your diary. Why are you back? Is it too late? Does nature know the answer for your behavior? Your mind feels like it got split into tiny pieces. Grains of sand maybe.

“Leaves” does an excellent job by telling a complex background story with the help of the world. It’s a very focused, even somewhat tense experience. It may have a very minimalistic and simple gameplay, but the audiovisual feedback to each little action kept me intrigued to progress. It’s a fascinating little piece, which doesn’t only shine because of the wonderful art design, but also thanks to its conclusiveness. I’m looking forward to my next visit at the seaside.