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Walk, don’t run

New Cane and Rinse blog contributor David Rushe considers the benefits of taking a more pedestrian path, perhaps also in those games that don’t enforce it, and maybe even real life

Run faster, jump further, climb higher, there are no limits.

This formula is intrinsic to many modern adventure games. The envelope is always being pushed to give gamers the ultimate escapist experience with the most physically charged and gravitationally challenging mechanics with every new release.

Whether it is traversing seemingly never-ending chasms or free-running your way to the top of the city’s tallest tower, anything is possible so long as you never stop moving.

In a world that is always on; with social media feeds that are impossible to fully absorb and a continuous dump of unfiltered and unchallenged information, we are constantly pushing the sprint button in both our real life and our gaming life.

At first glance the space for contemplation and pause appear to be diminishing. I have always been a fan of first-person shooters and third-person action adventure games; Assassins Creed, Grand Theft Auto, Metal Gear Solid, Syphon Filter, Doom and Wolfenstein have been firm favourites of mine since my early gaming days.

As I have grown from gaming adolescence to fully grown adult (debatable) with a wife and young family these types of games have always proven staples within my gaming portfolio.

Hours spent at work and attempting to have quality time with my family mean that these weighty and fast paced experiences are not as doable as they once were, instead I searched for a slower experience to pause and think.

Thank heavens for the “walking simulator”, namely Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture.

I have had both Ether One and Gone Home on my hard drive for the best part of the year and a half, but have never ventured further than the initial install. With the inclusion of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture in the PS Plus in November 2016, I decided it was time to change things up and slow the pace down.

Almost immediately I was hooked by the tangible world of Yaughton and the surrounding countryside and its cast of characters.

At first I was taken aback at the lack of a ‘run button’, with the only ‘sprint’ option being nothing more than a brisk walking pace you might use when trying to weave through the crowds at rush hour.

I quickly accepted the restrictions put in place by the developers, seeing it not as a hindrance but instead finding it be thoroughly liberating. The inability to race through the world and check off all the major story cues and gather all notable collectables in an attempt to work my way towards a platinum trophy was a blessing.

The restricted movement forced me, in the best possible way, to immerse myself in the world and the (former) lives of its inhabitants. I found myself attempting to open every door, every gate and interact with every object in the environment I could find. By the end of my first playthrough I was sad to leave the world in which felt part of even if only as an observer during those few hours.

The game captured my imagination and unlike other games which I have loved I did an unusual thing, for me, and immediately started my second playthrough. There was something so palpable and real about the residents of Yaughton that I couldn’t leave them.

For me the game is the perfect balance between narrative and player interaction, the inability to run does not handicap the player, instead it allows them to stop, pause and meditate.

As you wander through Yaughton and its surroundings you begin to unravel the threads of this tangled storyline, meandering through undulating landscapes kissed by the sun in the distance with nature and the light as your companion.

In the past year we have seen Brexit, Trump, the never-ending cycle of violence in Syria among other events and tragedies, the deliberate and absorbing experience of the digital world in Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture makes me yearn for the real world to take a moment and pause.

Since penning this rumination I have returned again to start my third playthrough to clean up my missing trophies and experience the majesty and wonder of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture one last time.

I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions and we are already one month in to 2017 at the time of writing and it seems futile to make one now.

I will endeavour to take with me the lessons of my Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture experience; making an effort to slow down, listen and bear witness to the majesty of the world around me before it is too late.

One Comment

  1. A lot of my time in GTA V and Skyrim was spent doing a lot of walking, rather than fighting or running. My favorite character I had in Skyrim was one in which I never used fast travel, and instead took in everything the world had to offer.
    Similarly with GTA, while I certainly did cause a lot of chaos, I put equal time just walking the streets and trying on clothes.

    While not quite as slow paced of an activity, this piece also made me think of some of my time with Farcry 3. I spent a couple hours just finding cliffs to jump off of. The best one I found took probably five minutes to get back to the top from the water, for only a few seconds of joy, but I did it probably a dozen times.

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