The Sailor’s Dream

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I’ve been enjoying working my way through Simogo’s beautiful mobile games. I’m a big fan of the Swedish developers who created Year Walk and Device 6. Their twisted storytelling, unique puzzles and high production values really inspire me to be a better games designer.

The Sailor’s Dream is a wonderfully crafted experience in which you take to the seas, exploring little islands in an attempt to discover what has happened to the story’s protagonists.


The side scrolling horizon is stunning, I’d love to know how they created the gently lapping, animated sea. Each island illustration is covered with minute details, the Secret Lighthouse, the Celestial Sanctuary; every time a new location was revealed I got a buzz of excitement.

Navigating through each location is unusual. Scenes are stitched together, fading to black as you shift between them. Dotted trails connect you and are roughly mapped to a floating compass.

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They put so much effort into all elements of the game, secret sketches to be found, specially written songs that reveal parts of the narrative and without giving too much away…once I’d figured out what to do in the Transmission Horologe I was so excited about it I was telling anyone that would listen for weeks!

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I have to admit I got a bit confused by the story for this one. Perhaps I didn’t uncover things quickly enough or in a good order to work out what was going on. But it didn’t really matter. Simogo always create beautiful experiences full of twists and delights – The Sailor’s Dream is no exception. Set your sail and weigh anchor!

Year Walk

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I’ve played some really great games on my phone recently. I haven’t had a Playstation of my own for some years but I’m finding that puzzle and adventure apps are just right for enjoying on a smaller device. In the same way that you can’t put a good book down, I find myself sneaking in a breakfast gaming session, tapping away on the tube and trying (and failing) not to play in bed.

A recent stand out for me is Simogo’s Year Walk ; an atmospheric game set in the snowy Swedish woods.  In times of old, man would walk deep into the woods in the hope of catching a glimpse of his future. It was a perilous activity and many who ventured never returned. As the story unravels, you encounter strange, dark beasts of the forest taken straight from Swedish folklore. You must solve the puzzles they set out for you, searching for clues and performing clever interactions to impress them.

 

The art style is beautiful. It somehow manages to be both cute and creepy at the same time. It is Illustratively rich, the textures adding just the right amount of detail. The gentle shift of focus and blurring/sharpening of foreground and background objects seem to add to the feeling of unease.

The interface is super minimal, which seems to me to be a mark of a well designed experience. I would rather focus on story and game art than an ugly button or unnecessary menus. If you do download it, be sure to grab the companion app which has a few secrets of its own!

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Heartwood

heartwoodscreenshotIf one could look inside of Developer Kerry Turner’s head, they might see: folk tales, theme park rides, horror movies, installation art, forests, unicorns and lots of white rabbits. As I am partial to all of those things (and Kerry is a good friend!), I was very pleased to get involved with Heartwood, her latest game, which draws inspiration from some of those ideas.

Without giving too much of the adventure away, Heartwood is an eerie walk in the woods, with an unsettling soundtrack created by audio artist Dan Bibby.

 

 

Kerry asked me to design the logo. I started with some rough pencil sketches then worked back into a few of these in Illustrator. After sharing these with Kerry she picked her favourite for me to finish up.

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She has done a smashing job and created something really atmospheric and special. If you would like to take a little stroll into Heartwood then please grab your headphones, follow the link and try to stay calm…

PLAY HEARTWOOD