Review: Triennale GC


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The Triennale Game Collection is a showcase of 5 experimental works each developed by an indie designer, strongly displaying their features and thoughts in games and beyond. That said, they can be both highly insightful or pointless, depending on how you see them. All five of them, to me, show a very different angle of interactivity in gameplay. A bit too artistic at times, but overall interesting and powerful.

The art style in the main screen is good, but not great, kind of  modern Scandinavian style. The collection is produced by Santa Ragione, maker of MirrorMoon EP and FOTONICA, but personally I think they didn’t work their aesthetic charm right this time. I guess there’s some semiotics stuff they try to convey, but again, I’m never into semiotics.

The following are my thoughts on each of them, individually.

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Il Filo Conduttore

From Mario von Rickenbach of Plug & Play and Christian Etter of Drei comes Il Filo Conduttore, the wire conductor. A nifty interactive animation I’d say, just like Plug & Play, but smaller, more obscure and better looking. In this game you control a cord (and later a set of cords) and by which you manipulate the still objects insignificantly. It can be frustrating sometimes, but at the end you may (yes, may) find it worth it.

The music is especially remarkable, composed by David Kamp.

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L. O. C. K.

A modern presentation of classical cosmographia developed by Tale of Tales, the developer of Sunset, Luxuria Superbia and other projects. From their former works one distinctive trait is featured, that is, minimum interaction combined with maximum expression of their ideas. Though with the nature of the industry Tale of Tales’s games are, more or less, failures, commerce-wisely, their games are beautiful.

Not unlike their previous works, L. O. C. K. is more of a presentation rather than a game. Unlike their previous attempts in Triennale Harvey and Samyn (the dev) are set free from breaking even, so here it’s: A pure, clear and astonishingly gorgeous modern presentation of classical celestial spheres (Petrus Apianus’s Cosmographicus liber, to be precise). Each sphere is interpreted with magnificent imagination beyond our dimension. Among all five games this is my personal favorite, partially because of my love in mysticism and theology, mostly because it’s fascinating and delightful to play around with.

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Neighbor

Created by Cardboard Computer, the creator of Kentucky Route Zero, a fantastic adventure game that has been taking some year of development and the last episode is still missing. While waiting for the fifth episode, you may wanna play a bit of Neighbor, since it’s very KR0-esque. In a desert valley you are a nameless person — or you are the crystal object that roams about indicating where does the person go or investigate. The effort they put to make the crystal object exceptional vivid and lively successfully established the notion that you can’t tell whether you are the crystal or the person.

Just like the trilogy by Brendo Chung the game is intentionally filled with interactable objects that virtually do nothing. But it’s less fun to poke around, as the protagonist walks as slow as any normal person would do in reality. After you goof around for a while, the game comes down to three things: shopping — which grants you new stuff and is the only means to advance time in this game — offering things to a book-sharped white wall — which then leaves new stuff to you — and talking to a mysterious neighbor that rarely visits, and the talks are brief, enhancing the sense of solitude.

The ideas behind this game are very interesting and current, according to my interpretation. But I won’t bother to share with you, because we can all interpret differently and that’s the charm… and it’d be too long. Aside from that, the music and graphic are hearty.

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A Glass Room

In A Glass Room (by Pol Clarissou) you are fixed in an empty room with nothing but a projection machine, which you cannot see, but can interact with by dragging your mouse. By doing so, the image projected changes direction and distance, displaying the views in different parts of a city and its woods, skies and shores. Atop that, you can add a layer to it and change the content in that layer. An interesting attempt to present motion in still pictures, I myself take the projected images the minimized fragments of parts of, well, let’s say a game, and the things on the layer sprites in that game. Or beyond that, the former places that are fixed, and the latter people and other animated things. Depending on what you make out of it, A Glass Room can be either interesting and insightful, or just nonsense (that also applies to other ones featured in Triennale XXI).

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The Worm Room

A minimalist one, made by Katie Rose Pipkin. Say, what happens if we strip off all gameplay elements, all SFX, music, animations and most of the texture, models from a game, what do we get? That’s The Worm Room. Nothing is animated, aside from your camera. The warm house you go through is randomly generated I suspect, since I went for 20 minutes and didn’t notice two rooms sharing the same name and same look. If that’s the case, they are generated in a carefully designed random fashion that every one has its dominant theme.

The game is available on Steam for free.

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