Often when playing games, a song, a character, a plotline leads me to really engage with a game. Some get their hooks into me and really make me think about myself and my place in the world. The puzzle game the Search did this for me in a personal way to such an extent that I played the game two years ago, and its message has hung on this long.
In the Search, you are an artist whose palette is dried up…whose canvas a bare. Your inspiration is non-existent. You begin the game’s journey staring out into a blank void…only illuminated by a series of lampposts, podiums under them. Each podium provides a message, a clue or an object from an entity who calls itself “the Invisible”. You are then given a ticket to put into a slot which then transports you to a vibrant world by which you explore. You are often hindered by a series of blocked paths and gates; access is gained by finding blank canvas to stretch across frames, which you must paint using found object in you inventory.
The Invisible is your constant companion by providing “food for thought” notes. Your inner voice – separate from the Invisible – speaks in philosophic terms, trying to decipher these notes. “Where am I and what am I doing here?” You often see yourself as a metaphor, for example, comparing yourself to a caged bird by quoting Carl Jung: “What use now is his lofty perch and his wide horizon, when his dear soul is languishing in prison?” to which you identify, as you express feeling trapped.
The Search is brought to you by Jason Godbey, the creator of Discolored, a game I got to demo in development back in 2019 (and is now a full game!). Godbey has a great aesthetic. Graphically, the game is beautiful. Navigating the terrain can be a bit of a turnaround as it is a point and click game, and relies on players to click on arrows to move through the scenes; I don’t think that is necessarily a problem in general…it is for me, however, since I can lose my place easily, lol. I was pleased to see I could save my progress in the game and could have more than one save profile. It even kept my old saves from when I last played the game in July 2019. The voice acting is stellar, done by video game voice over actress Cissy Jones, known to me best as Delilah from Firewatch. Lastly, if you’re into achievements, this one’s got ’em too via Steam.
The Search is a nicely rendered puzzle game that is not overly challenging in gameplay, but I found very thought-provoking in its message. Having stood in front of many a bare canvas in my life, I instantly identified with the main character’s feelings of emptiness. Some may find the philosophical talk a tad too heady or even preachy, but obviously I was open to it.