Critical Play: Walking Simulators – The Sailor’s Dream

For this Critical Play I decided to test the Sailor’s Dream. This game immerses you into a stunningly gorgeous and serene ocean that is surrounded by six small islands. The game’s stunning visuals and engrossing sounds hook you from the get-go. It allows you to explore each island in a free sequence by scrolling through rooms and uncovering things that tell a little part of a greater tale. When tapped, twisted, stretched, or dragged, the objects in some spaces generate incredible melodies.

The Sailor’s Dream is not so much a game as it is an interactive experience with the story a man, a woman, and a young girl who all seem to be apart of a pseudo-family unit and something terrible happens and sets them all in different paths after a tragic separation. I’ve heard that you’ll need to return to the narrative several times to discover new details; however, I was not able to play if for several days. It is impossible to go through the entire game in less than a day, you need to come back and find new pieces of the whole story. The aim of this game is to satisfy players curiosity; however, it can be a frustrating experience to wait for certain days of the week to get parts of story.

I believe it would have been better if all of the musical “toys” in the game, such as the hanging cubes and the amazing things in the observatory, really had a role in the tale rather than just being there for show. I found myself going back and forth between them, trying to figure out what they were supposed to change in the game, only to discover later that they had no purpose except to be played with.

This game is based on the Embedded Narrative. As players move through the game they reformulate their mental maps of the narrative action and story space. The narrative is relatively unstructured and controlled by players as they explore the game space and unlock its secrets. It depends on scrambling the pieces of a linear story and allowing us to reconstruct the plot through players’ act of exploration.

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