They create worlds: Little Orpheus, and the limits of running left to right

One of the things that video games can do magnificently is create worlds. These posts are an occasional exploration of games that I love because of where they take me.

Little Orpheus is gorgeous to look at. It is what we used to call a jump-and-run game; usually such games are called platformers these days, the various Super Mario titles probably being the most famous among them even to non-gamers, but ‘platformer’ is really less fitting in the case of Little Orpheus, which is all about running and jumping – and, as is customary in such games, running and jumping to the right most of the time. The character you’re controlling is the cosmonaut Ivan Ivanovich who finds himself in one pickle after another: pursued by pterodactyls and a Tyrannosaurus Rex in a take on the centre of the earth that is part Jules Vernes, part ’50s B movie, or navigating the innards of a giant while, or racing against the odds in mysterious Lemuria. Or actually, he’s telling these stories – which he may be making up on the spot – to the increasingly impatient General Yurkovoi, who is trying to find out what happened to his atomic bomb and how exactly this ridiculous little man sitting in front of him was involved.

Little Orpheus is undoubtedly beautiful – and yet, I felt less immersed in these worlds than I have in some technically and artistically more primitive ones. Is it that jumping and running doesn’t lend itself to immersion?

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They create worlds: INSIDE

One of the things that video games can do magnificently is create worlds. These posts are an occasional exploration of games that I love because of where they take me.

Dystopias are a dime a dozen these days; dystopias starring children doubly so. INSIDE isn’t the video game version of the latest YA trilogy, though, and its dystopia is decidedly more grim and hopeless even than Katniss’ gladiatorial arena. The game’s world is deadly yet impersonal, its dilapidated rural and industrial backgrounds depict a world that is in its last throes. Yet, strangely, it is also one of the most beautiful video games worlds I’ve ever seen.

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