Lightning bugs are a sort of magic when you're young, the kind that feels like it escaped from the halls of Hogwarts and somehow reclassified itself as science under the cover of darkness. It's the sort of memory that tends to stay vivid: the moment when you cupped a firefly inside your hands and watched its light seep out between the cracks in your fingers like greenish-yellow fire.
In the game Imaginal, you decide to relive one of those memories with a friend by walking through the woods and catching fireflies together after dark, like you used to do as kids. "It'll be super chill," they promise. "We can just hang out, catch some bugs and have a chat." And that's exactly what you do.
Armed with a glass jar, you can only capture the bugs while they're illuminated, and if you happen to snag a special blue lightning bug you'll share an insight or an idle thought with your friend—or maybe they'll one with you.
Don't bother racing around to each firefly the moment it lights up; it'll almost certainly be too late by the time you reach it, and you'll earn yourself a lot of frustration, but few bugs. Instead, relax: try following one firefly at a time as they bob back and forth in the shadows, and wait for its light to turn on. This isn't Cookie Clicker, it's a gentle, meditative game about spending time with a friend, and one that's particularly pleasant to play before bed.
Designed by Lisa Brown with art by Denae Wilkowski and music by Michael McCarthy, Imaginal is pay-what-you-will, and available for download on Windows, Mac and Linux.