“UNDER A STAR CALLED SUN” by Cecile Richard.

“[A science fiction Bitsy] game about grieving, holding on to fading memories, and carrying the world on your shoulders[.]”

In the loneliest place in the entire universe, an astronaut formulates a message. The exact addressee is unknown, but the content itself suggests a profound friendship. The author first discusses intergalactic banalities, like the fact that the taste of earthly coffee is so much better than the one you can prepare in the spaceship canteen. But the atmosphere in “UNDER A STAR CALLED SUN” becomes more and more gloomy, which is partly due to the background song “Elegy For A Cosmonaut”, but also to the text itself. Suddenly, the author writes that this is not a “normal message” at all.

While the astronaut expresses their own thoughts, we walk with them to a secret section of the ship. We are now in some kind of Holodeck that can recreate a place at a particular time based on the memories of whoever is entering it. Not only does it become clear that they have not seen their friend in a long time, but also that there will never be an answer to the message.

As if this realization were not tragic enough, the whole scenario is further aggravated by the apparatus we are currently in. Each time the device is used, the memory is alienated a bit. Glitches appear, the friend’s voice becomes unrecognizable, their facial features blur, and so with each trip down memory lane that very road of nostalgia gets destroyed.

With this bitter scenario, this Bitsy game has made me cry several times. Perhaps this effect is all the stronger in these times where the wretched Corona pandemic has been forcing one lockdown after another on us, minimizing our social contacts for many months now. I want to see my friends and family again, hug them tightly and tell them I love them very much; even somewhat more after playing this. That is why I felt very connected to the astronaut in “UNDER A STAR CALLED SUN” and joined them in their lament, in their elegy. However, the sadness did not come alone, as it was accompanied by catharsis, too. Thank you for that, Cecile Richard. [PLAY]