Dria Critical Play – “Virginia”

For this critical play I chose Virginia, a first-person mystery adventure video game. The game was developed by Variable State and published by 505 Games in 2016. We are in the shoes of FBI agent Anne Tarver, as she investigates the mysterious disappearance of a boy named Lucas Fairfax in rural Virginia in 1992. 


The game has very few mechanics. The background consists of dramatic, eerie sound effects but unlike Edith Finch, does not have words or hints on the screen. Unlike most walking games, the creators chose to omit dialogue from the game and instead focus on the physical interactions of the characters themselves. Players have to solve the game on their own, as they travel between locations and interact with visual cues. Players can pick up and examine things, look around the room, and walk around. These simple yet important mechanics allow the player to be immersed within the mystery that comes with being an FBI agent. 


Loops and arcs played a large role in driving Virginia’s narrative. The loops are Anne’s daily routines, such as applying lipstick and driving to work. By including these minor, unimportant events, the developers sew the narrative together by filling in normal events between solving the mystery. Arcs build the mystery itself and are carefully designed to allow progression. Specific scenes, such as that of Anne investigating Maria’s car, are an important component of the mystery and push the story forward. By including these loops and arcs, the game is designed in a woven, almost realistic story full of suspense and normalcy.

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