May 9th, 2012 | By Chris Priestman
Souvenir is a prototype student project which takes the often grievous task of leaving home and turns it into a surreal first person imaginarium. You start off in a theater and will soon find that the only thing that you can do is move around and point your mouse at any wall, floor or ceiling to travel there with gravity being no barrier – kind of like how Isaac travels around in Dead Space in areas of zero gravity. Not every surface can be landed upon though, only those that make your cursor white and not red, but most can and so you will likely get a little confused as to which way is up after some quick experimentation.
Apart from this slightly otherworldly way of travelling, there are a bunch of sentences hanging around that seem to suggest doing certain things or provoking memories of this character that you play. Just when you thought that things couldn’t get any weirder, you’ll look down a hole on the stage of the theater and start tumbling, like Alice down the rabbit hole, to a world of floating platforms and buildings that would make M.C. Escher double take.
The idea from this point onwards is that you travel around these various distorted locales with your home at the center – a school, a church, a forest and so on. In each of these places are a number of souvenirs which you can pick up if you wish. Oh and some large crows will appear at some point and bring a slightly darker tone to your innocent frolicking. The developers say that that you’re travelling around the fragmented memories of this character, choosing which souvenirs from their childhood to take to their adult life. A fairly neat proposition but one that is most definitely in the prototype stage.
Apparently, my character isn’t going to make it to adulthood as they’re too busy committing suicide. With the narrower platforms and multiple angles to navigate between in this ‘memory world’, it became glaringly obvious that the game’s main mechanic – flying between the multiple gravity platforms – simply isn’t accurate enough. As you point your cursor on a wall at goodness knows what angle, you’re confident that there’s plenty of room to land. Yet, during the glide, you somehow end up way off course and hurtling towards a vast nothingness. You’re then reset to your previous position and free to try again, unless of course you happen across what I did and the game becomes stuck in an infinte loop of falling which you can’t avert from.
Aside from that flaw in this prototype, the rest of the game is really very interesting. The architecture is quite wonderful and travelling around this multi-gravity world has a lot for the player to find. Getting the intention of their travels across to the player could be done better as I found that it didn’t really come through as strong as it could with the visuals and scattered sentences. Neither is there an ending to the game so you can pretty much make your way around collecting all of the souvenirs to no end. Still, it’s a cool little prototype that could definitely be worked on more to something I’d happily fly around again, providing I don’t get stuck falling over and over again.
More information on Souvenir can be found on the game’s official website.