October 16, 2011
Photos are a funny thing. You can make them into anything you want, including art. Recently, there have been a couple of games that have used photos as their primary source of environment. Take the game Trauma for instance, a game that I discussed a couple of months ago. Using camera tricks and just plain photos themselves, players were provided with a chance to explore the dreams of another and sort of decode them. Here we have another photo based ‘game’, Retention, which deals with trying to reconstruct the memory of a cyclist after he has fallen off of his bike. I use the term ‘game’ loosely, as like Trauma, it feels more akin to an art form than a game.
The basic point of the game is to figure out what happened to the cyclist, who has fallen off his bike and lost his memory. To do so, you have to look through a number of photos. The catch is that some of these are his true memories, and some of them are not. There are eight different outcomes for this game, four of them positive and four of them negative. It really is impossible to lose this game, besides running out of time. Yes, this is a timed game that requires you to pick photos within ten minutes and 30 seconds. Failing to complete the game within the time limit will yield you a message that you have failed to recover all of the cyclist’s memories. The trouble I had with the game is that I did not really get it. I assumed you had to pick photos, but there seemed no rhyme or reason to picking them.
The ‘game’ is actually just kind of a ‘choose your own adventure’ book. Honestly, I did not really want to play it more than once or twice. The photos are well taken and beautiful, but it again does not feel like a game. It was also a little tough to get to look at all of the photos because there is a time limit. Although those expecting a game will be disappointed, it is a really interesting thing to play through, especially for those interested in art and photography.