What Never Was

[Review] Home Is Where One Starts (PC)

For some, childhood memory can be a powerful thing. I am one of those who has vivid memories of childhood from as early as age 2. Scents and sounds also help trigger memories in me. The rustling of leaves, and the “click click” of a 10 speed, for example, bring me right back to childhood.

Home Is Where One Starts is a short walking simulator from David Wehle (The First Tree) that explores those feelings and sensations that tangible objects trigger in memories of childhood. You play an adult who is reflecting on her childhood as a little girl as she waits for the school bus.

The game begins at the foot of your driveway, with your schoolbag at your feet. You are instructed to find 8 memories and as you search, you are free to explore around the yard, and across the road to a neighbouring farm. You grew up in a home on a large piece of land on a rural route. It’s deserted and run-down now, and the ghosts of play dates’ past and a broken home are evident in the rusty swing set and garbage strewn throughout the property. Exploring, you as a gamer discover clues to your character’s upbringing – a troubled father, poverty…Yet in this world, you were a girl with aspirations of being an astronomer, and coping mechanisms in the imagination you developed while playing in the forts and hiding places you had made around the yard.

Home Is Where One Starts, however sad the themes presented in it are, is a beautiful game. It’s easy to navigate around using the WASD keys and mouse. I loved the graphics which stylistically reminded me of What Never Was or Marie’s Room in how good they are. You spend most of your time outdoors, and the graphics and sounds reflect that; the sun is up, trees sway in the breeze, and birds are chirping. A serene soundtrack round out the pleasant experience. It’s a short game (20 minutes) which is the perfect length here to tell the tale, but I liked the environment so much I spent well over an hour exploring.

Home Is Where One Starts is a good game – I highly recommend it!

5/5

Home Is Where One Starts
David Wehle
2015

 

[Review] What Never Was (PC)

Free Game on Steam!!

This year, in case you haven’t noticed, the blog has seen an up-tick in free game reviews! Hey, some of these are walking sims, and really well done (some not so much, and I have spared you from a few I’ve played that didn’t cut muster). When they’re great, they’re great! And when they’re free, I sing from the rooftops! I love me the free ones!

A recent search through Steam came the discovery of What Never Was, a very short, sort of walking sim, puzzle game whose story in some ways could parallel my life over the past year and a half…the protagonist, Sarah, is returning home with the sad task of cleaning out her late grandpa’s attic of her belongings. The attic is tiny, but full of stuff that she must sift through, and in doing so, discovers her Explorer Grandpa has kept some cool and exciting secrets from everyone. He memorialized some of it in a journal whose pages are scattered throughout the attic. She also finds a recording he left on tape for her that also contains some clues. She now is intrigued enough to find every missing page of the journal to find out what her Grandpa has been up to.

What Never Was is a very enjoyable experience. The graphics are clean and the voiceover work is well done (think Edith Finch good). The puzzles you encounter are enjoyable and collecting all the journal pages earns you achievements. All the clues are in the room; you just have to search around. The music is pleasant to listen to.

As mentioned, What Never Was is very short – a half an hour at the most. The game does end abruptly, almost as though what you played was a demo of some sort. Digging deeper, its developer, Acke Hallgren, made this game on a shoe-string in his spare time. The game was meant to be short, but he plans to come out with a second part, which is currently in development. I really like what I see so far and look forward to further releases.

4.5/5

What Never Was
Acke Hallgren
2019