The Sailor's Dream: a game of beautiful things with unfamiliar traits
This mysterious marine adventure is for those with the sea in their hearts and an iOS device in their hands.
Simogo's latest iOS release, The Sailor's Dream, is an instantly-nostalgic seafaring folktale. From sound and shanty to touchable, playful marineland secrets, it aims straight at that part of your heart that wants to live on a sandy peninsula, alone and lost to time.
You don't need to 'play video games' to enjoy it, either. There are certain things I try to recommend to my friends, and then they tell me, 'but I don't really play video games,' and I go, 'that's okay, you don't need to.' The world of The Sailor's Dream just opens up to your touch, and you find things to read and think about and listen to, and that's really it. The game is up for an Excellence in Audio award at this year's Independent Games Festival—just find one of the game's little sea-songs in a bottle and you'll get why.
On the mobile platform, commonly dominated mostly by hooky puzzles and persistent monetization schemes, the sheer variety two-man Swedish studio Simogo produces is welcome and refreshing -- from cute musical car game Bumpy Road to the genuinely-spooky Swedish ghost stories of Year Walk.
When it comes to The Sailor's Dream, you'd think making a distinctly "nongamey" game would be a boon, opening experiences up for new audiences that don't necessarily have the vocabulary of a multi-button controller and quick reflexes. But subverting expectations and communicating new kinds of experiences is challenging for many modern game developers -- especially when it comes to games without a clear obstacle or win state.
I asked Simogo's Simon Flesser what he feels people normally expect from games, and about the difficulty in attempting to offer them something else. "I'm not sure exactly what they expect, but I think using the term 'game' comes with a few conceptions," Flesser says. "As does any term, like 'book', or 'movie', I suppose."
"I think these new types of digital mixed media pieces, like The Sailor's Dream, are hard to describe, because it doesn't really fit in either," he tells me. "If we had called it a 'book' I think we would've faced similar problems, so I'm not sure if it's the word 'game' that is the biggest problem. It's a real tricky one... I think it's always going to be tricky to try and offer anyone something novel, which isn't easily described."
Flesser says he's happy with how the game turned out and wouldn't change anything: "If you start to base your creativity around response, you'll end up making watered-down products, created to please but never surprise."
You can check out The Sailor's Dream for yourself on your iOS device. It costs $3.99. Here's a little clue from me: If you think there's nothing more to see, come back the next day.
The Offworld Collection, presenting the very best features and essays from Offworld, is finally available to buy directly from Campo Santo for $40. I had the pleasure of designing and illustrating this splendid 250-page hardcover volume, but it’s the excellent writing, edited by Leigh Alexander and Laura Hudson, that makes it an essential buy. You […]
Zoya Street, curator of Critical Distance, offers slow reflections on the fast-paced world of digital play…
This week, our partnership with Critical Distance brings us reading on parenting via Tomb Raider, the utility of the word ‘gameplay’, and experiences from Nintendo ‘play counselors’ from the 1980s and 90s.
It’s a rude awakening for that rookie vacationer abroad when they try to plug in their gear for the night. Veteran jet-setters know that outlet shapes can vary wildly from country to country, which necessitates that most boring must-have for any world-traveler: A sackful of clunky power adapters. Awkward problem, elegant solution: The Twist Plus […]
Looking for a career in music behind the boards, either as a music producer or DJ? It’s a good bet that you’re going to be working with Ableton Live. Each new iteration of this powerful workstation gives the user more tools to create, and it’s just as well suited for the task of meticulous track […]
The graveyard of failed startups is littered with concepts that just got lost in translation. At its core, that’s what great front-end design is about: Making an app or website usable, translating its best ideas smoothly to the user. It’s a skill so broad there might be no one book or course that covers it […]