The Gardens Between
- The Voxel Agents
Best friends Arina and Frendt fall into a series of vibrant, dreamlike gardens peppered with everyday objects from their childhood. Together they embark on an emotional journey that examines the significance of their friendship: memories they’ve built, what must be let go, and what should never be left behind.
Lost in a mysterious realm where cause and effect are malleable, the friends find time flows in all directions. Players manipulate time to solve puzzles, and follow the duo as they unpack and explore their significant moments spent together, lighting up constellations and illuminating threads of a bittersweet narrative.
The innovative structure of the game and the use of environmental storytelling free it from speech, text, user interface or menus. It is navigated with simple left/right controls and an ‘interact’ button. It can be enjoyed at any pace without time pressure or reactive gameplay, which makes the game a supremely inclusive, welcoming experience to a very broad audience.
This ambitious title has gathered significant recognition and attention, and transformed our studio. Whilst in it’s pre-release in-development state it has been nominated for twelve international awards for art, design, and more, including the highly vaunted Independent Games Festival ‘Excellence in Visual Art’. It was showcased on Sony¹s mainstage Playstation event during Paris Games Week, and has made the final selection of many international festivals including; Indie MEGABOOTH (PAX East, West, Aus), Indie Arena, IGF, IGF China, Out of Index Korea, ACMI Melbourne, Unity Showcase and BIC Fest. It will be released late 2018.
In pushing ourselves to find minimalistic elegance we elevated our skills and processes, and shattered our assumed limitations of the medium. With just three actions: controlling time forwards, backwards and ‘interact’, we have challenged our assumptions about creating games. We had to work within the inherent limits of such simplicity; very little happens and it can feel like a rote matter of back and forth, repeating the motions. To deliver significant narrative moments in such a limiting format we have taken inspiration from the framing and composition techniques of short films and narrative vignettes – an area often under-explored by digital games.
The game is a cross-disciplinary feat having tightly woven art, gameplay, storytelling and audio into a complimentary whole. The gameplay metaphorically captures the narrative intent, to cherish memories, whilst the storytelling is conveyed indirectly thru environmental art and symbolism. Furthermore the forwards and backwards time traversal enables innovative puzzles which requires players to observe, explore and tinker with memories. The elements come together to explore how our recollections are often filtered, amorphous views of the actual events that occured, and through the lens of memory we join our two protagonists in moments spent together.
Coming to Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC and Mac in September 2018.