“[A] collection of short art games, or digital poems, which are joined together by a common interface – a mysterious place resembling a spaceship. […] The goal is to take a journey across worlds to perceive the associative relations between them and figure out the obscure meaning of what is going on.”
Full disclosure right ahead:
Sebastian Standke used a free key of “Overseas”, provided by Yuliya Kozhemyako, to play the game and write an article about it.
“Overseas” is not a single game, but a collection of four individual games at this point and might get a content update in the future. But the result so far is fascinating for a lover of poetic games like myself. If you are open for a non-linear gaming experience, then you are at the right place.
It all starts on board of a spaceship which doesn’t provide any high-end alien technology, but a traditional steering wheel. By spinning it, you can choose which of the four games you want to play: “Tlön”, “La forêt”, “Sacred Grove” or “Chernodyrsk / Black Hole City”.
Each of those games features an unique core mechanic. In “Tlön”, you wander around a planet with dozens of gigantic statues, which will show you some videos or other media content. By clicking on them, they will be disabled for eternity. One can only wonder why the cursor is titled “DON’T” in this case, but that’s one of the neat details of “Overseas”: It doesn’t give you any straight answer, because you have to find them for yourself. There is no right or wrong, no black or white – each game is a grey area of some sorts. Take “La forêt” as another example: You coud see it as a short walk in a glitch forest with a spooky scene or maybe you interpret it as an exposition about the sublime strength of nature. No immanent authority of the game will tell you what to think or judge your interpretation.
Attentive readers of this blog might even recognize “Sacred Grove”, as it is an updated version of Yuliya Kozhemyako’s and Margarita Skomorokh’s Ludum Dare 39 entry “Rise Shine Fall”. Here you had to play as a shaman who tries to keep the trees alive by singing chants. But the trees were too far away from each other to keep them all alive at once, so you had to set priorities. “Sacred Grove” is nearly identical to this jam game, and personally I am very happy to see the reuse of former prototypes in new indie games.
“Chernodyrsk / Black Hole City” is a game which is characterized by reasonless anger with the world. The male character goes through a dead city and by pressing the spacebar, he will repeat pretty contextless, homophobic as well as misogynic rants. No danger or threat can be seen, but he will always just express his weird rage. A black hole appears. Maybe it is the one of his heart, maybe it is his reception of his surroundings, noone can say for sure.
So far I think that “Overseas” has a fantastic start as an art game collection, but I am also aware of the fact that its target audience might be a pretty small one. It is one of those wonderful curiosities with incredibly strong moments, which might not get enough attention because people think of it being ‘too artsy’ or whatever. But who knows where the journey is headed in the end? Maybe “Overseas” will get more episodes and then, when you see the new destination, you will be amazed of the fact that you already got your ticket. I know that I will be.