Critical Play: The Sailor’s Dream

For this Critical Play, I played The Sailor’s Dream, a game by Simogo, on my iPhone. The target audience is most likely not young children; it is anyone who enjoys reading mysteries and absorbing soothing music and art. The format of this game is Player vs Game; the player explores the story world to unlock its secrets and piece together a narrative. Thus, it combines elements of an Enacting Narrative and an Embedded Narrative.

The “walking” mechanism of this game supports a dynamic where snippets of the story are spread out all across the world, hidden in different landmarks, and the player is never sure whether they are missing snippets, or when the snippets they have found were supposed to have taken place chronologically. This means that the player must constantly re-mold their understanding of the story to include new story snippets. This prevents the player from getting bored with the narrative. At the same time, the initial premise of the story is easy enough to figure out that the player never becomes too confused with the narrative and disengages. Thus, the walking mechanism creates a strong Narrative aesthetic. 

At my point in the game (having unlocked the secrets of all but two of the landmarks), I am still not sure who the player is supposed to be. We read about the girl in third person, but my understanding is that we are exploring her subconscious, which suggests that we are the girl. Perhaps the third person text is meant to simulate the feeling of dreaming about yourself in third person. In any case, I think this is a unique and compelling POV, but that if the identity of the player were made clearer, the Fantasy aesthetic could be even stronger. 

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