The Ship (Sotiris Niarchos)
This game… had a lot. For me, the total was less than the sum of its parts, but I did admire its ambition, and still enjoyed aspects of it. Mild spoilers follow…
So, you start off as the captain of a pirate ship that’s not doing any pirating, but instead going to some coordinates from an old note from your dad. You are otherwise profoundly incurious, not talking to anyone on the ship for a month, and not trying to open the drawers of your own desk, either. The game kicks off with your first mate (Ben) deciding to start off the plot by telling you to go talk to people. So, off you go.
The people’s stories were interesting, but somehow only when they didn’t involve me at all. I never truly believed anything I was told about myself or about my own backstory. I’ve played games before that didn’t resonate with me in a ‘oh, yeah, that’s an emotion I’ve had’ way, but in a ‘this is a good depiction of this unfamiliar-to-me emotion’. For this one, I found myself unable to not only recognize the emotions that were supposed to be there, but I also didn’t even understand them in an academic sense. Every so often, I’d get a monologue that clearly was intended to convey something, and it was obvious to me that the author had a very clear sense of what was being expressed, but every time it just sailed past me completely. I wish I knew why!
At any rate, you talk to people, do some stuff, play a minigame, and then you get whisked off to chapter 2, where you play a different captain… in space! And the year is ‘the same’, it’s just that the reference year 0 is different. This time, you have no crew, so there’s nothing around but an AI and more minigames. This is the point at which the minigames started to be less believable as in-game Things To Do and became more Soup Cans In the Kitchen, but, enh, they were fine. Again, you are searching for A Location, and something poorly-explained happens so that somehow the coordinates our two PCs have are merged into and actually-pinpointable place, both in space and in the ocean. Somehow.
There were some fun moments between here and the end, including:
- I actually did enjoy some of the navigation minigames, even as unrealistic as I found them.
- The moment when the ‘Switch’ button appears.
- The moment when I was all ‘No, that’s ridiculous,’ and didn’t click anything.
But, sadly, the plot became less and less believable for me, and the characters’ emotions similarly drifted into being not super believable nor even (at times) particularly comprehensible. This was extra disappointing, because I could 100% tell that emotions were supposed to be there, and that the author felt very passionately about them. I just couldn’t tell why! I genuinely hope this game found Its People, because that kind of passion deserves to connect to people. And hopefully with time, the author will figure out how to cast a wider net and maybe catch me next time.
Did the author have something to say? Yes! I was not able to understand what it was, but at least I could tell it was there.
Did I have something to do? A bit on the shallow end here, but just enough, I’d say. It definitely helped that I found the minigames interesting; had I not, it would have been a much more frustrating experience.