This week, we're winding back the clock, we're winding the clock forward, and maybe someone should check whether this clock actually works? We also find time to shape a future, to shape a model train set, and to rummage about in someone's brain. Enjoy!
Arc Symphony by Sophia Park, Penelope Evans
Arc Symphony, like Digital: A Love Story before it, took me right back to the early(-ish) days of the internet. I'm talking chat rooms, and of cosy, specialist message boards—places where you could meet people with similar interests, where you could invent a new identity, or become who you were, deep inside. It's a wonderful game: well-observed, authentically '90s, and with excellent presentation, putting you in the midst of a small community dedicated to a fictional, Final Fantasy-like JRPG.
Tracks by Dr. Whoop
If you enjoy making model train sets, Scalextric, and things like that, you'll want to keep one, two, or even three eyes on Tracks, should you be so blessed in the ocular department. It's a game...ah, an interactive playset, really, which will let you build massive, ornate toy rail networks, without having to fork out hundreds for all the constituent parts. The process of stitching the parts together is elegant, and rather lovely to look at, here, but it's early days for this graceful build-'em-up.
Labourer by Brendan Keogh
I couldn't take much of this, but it's a lovely experiment (inspired by the brilliant Metropolis) that asks you to manually wind a clock so that it matches, as close as humanly possible, the one in the background. If that sounds like torture, then you're kind of right? But it's an interesting idea, explored with style, and it could be fun to inflict it on your friends.
A Mind Is A Small Place by Juju, thirteen
You're exploring the inside of a mind in this first-person game concerned with depression and self-harm—so yes, maybe avoid it if you're not currently in a stable place. Having said that, it's a not particularly dark affair. It's a stroll through the innards of a brain: a spiky, wobbly and multi-faceted brain that feels shut off from the rest of the world. Occasional phone calls relay the story of a person suffering from depression—calls from a friend who will, sadly, eventually become estranged by the central character.
Causeway by Yarn Spinner Games
Causeway is interactive fiction, but with a fun, novel input system. To trigger the next plot point, rather than dryly selecting options from a menu, you instead take different paths at a series of soft, beachy crossroads, walking between each story segment in first-person. To find out how your story has changed, you stroll up to a message in a bottle, pluck the missive from within, and give it a good old read. OK, so it's not an approach that would work well with piles of text, but it feels appropriate to the size of the story here.