Ludum Dare 45: Some Excavated Wounds

“Some Excavated Wounds” by Sand Gardeners (Sam Machell & Colin Le Duc) & Marc Loths.

“Devon, England, is a root site of deep cultural trauma; the legacy of colonialism, slavery, and the systematic exploitation of workers and the land. You could say the whole place has been built on top of this exploitation, tunnels wound the landscape, many uncharted, unknown, and harbouring dark secrets. […] A labour sim. Content warning for dark themes, and flashing lights.”

Often when games try to make traumata experienceable for their players, they focus on personal traumata. But did you ever ask yourself how a cultural or transgenerational trauma could make its way into the medium? “Some Excavated Wounds” is an experimental jam game that tried exactly that and it is doing a hella good job with that.

In an unreal tunnel system, surrounded by wobbly walls and shimmering lights, you will encounter derelict artefacts like a rusting ATM machine or a wooden guillotine. With your pickaxe you can ‘mine’ those objects and split them into pieces. When you are finished with that work, you will hear a voiceover snippet, visualized by kaleidoscopic graphics. These short scenes are linked with the relics in one way or another; it gets clear that the objects are direct symbols for the different traumata.

Afterwards you can pick up the shattered fragments, which will slow you down. I’d argue that your walking speed doesn’t decrease because of the actual weight of the objects, but because of the traumata they are related to. As you explore the roots of it all, it will pull you down – just like in reality, when we try to face our own issues. The confrontation is energy draining after all, but necessary for the healing process. Even when we are just staring in the void at the end. >>PLAY