Critical Play: Walking Simulators: The Sailor’s Dream

Game Summary

For this assignment I decided to play The Sailor’s Dream. The narrative of this walking simulator game is of a man, a woman, and a girl in some sort of pseudo-family unit. By exploring the world created by the designers, players piece together parts of the story bit by bit.

The setting of the game is in “an ocean dream world”. Players scroll left and right to navigate to different locations, each with its own mini-narrative that you piece together as you explore that space. These mini-narratives are all connected to the larger narrative of the story.

Commentary: narrative unfolds with time

One interesting choice of the game is that new bits appear when players revisit the game on different days as well as at different times in the day. For example, on my second day of the app I discovered a new song (in which the lyrics give you another small piece of the narrative). I will admit that at this point in the game (I’ve only had it for two days), I am impatient at the pace at which I can get more pieces of the narrative; however, it was still nice to revisit some of the places I had already explored just because the visuals and soundtrack were so pleasant and soothing.

Why can’t players get the whole story at once? One reason I can think of is the ambient nature of the narrative of the game. The visuals and aesthetic of the game can only be fully appreciated by players by visiting it again and again over time. The motif of lost memories also ties into this choice, as they can only be uncovered with time and patience. By using time to withhold parts of the narrative from the player, players become more curious and invested as time passes.

Visual Design

The game has crazy gorgeous visual design and a beautiful soundtrack. The emotions conveyed were super compelling: a mix of melancholy, sadness, and contentment. Just as The Sailor’s Dream’s website describes, this game is a “peaceful narrative experience, in which the only objective is to satisfy your curiosity.” I am excited to check back again over time and see what else I can learn about the Sailor’s memories.

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