Justice Playthrough #143: ISLANDS: Non-Places

When a basic bitch like me comes away recommending an artsy-fartsy anti-game, you know that you’ve got a really good artsy-fartsy anti-game thing.

This is a really good artsy-fartsy anti-game thing.

Page 1, Game 29: ISLANDS: Non-Places by Carlburton LLC

You are presented with a thing — something hazy, and familiar and monochromatic. Like, say, a bus stop.

Waiting on the 63-C line to Whimsyville

You may rotate around left or right, and you may click on things.

That’s it.

Click the right things, and stuff will happen.

I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that if you click the right things on this bus stop, a bus will roll up. Who’s getting out of the bus? What are they going to do?

Watch the scene play out in front of you, and find out.

Then, when it’s over, you’ll move on to the next scene. Like, say, a fountain.

Hmm, looks like it might be sputtering a bit

Islands is all about taking the familiar and turning it into something surreal and dreamlike. Even if the events sound mundane — Park a car! Fix a pipe! Repair an ATM! — the way they play out will be strange and beautiful.

This is another entry in the trawl where there’s not a lot of game to this game, so it’s going to live and die by the mood it sets and by how whatever happens holds your attention.

It established and maintained its mood of surreal whimsy, it held my attention.

There were frustrating moments. The only “game” element here is “okay, WTF do I click next?” Clicking around at random and hoping for the best doesn’t make for a compelling experience. But for the most part, the game does a solid job of dropping hints about what you need to do to make something happen next.

I’ve played other games with similar ambitions that completely sabotaged their sense of chill whimsy by making the question “What the hell does the game want me to do?” frustrating and opaque. There were moments like that in Islands. There were moments where I wasn’t sure if the game wanted me to do a thing, or if I’d successfully done the thing and the game was just slow-rolling whatever came next.

But those moments were honestly pretty unusual. I rarely felt stuck. Things proceeded, and I consistently wanted to see how they’d unfold.

It’s a strange and lovely way to spend an hour of your life. If that sounds the least bit appealing to you, I can definitely recommend it.

Will this next game attempt to disrupt my sense of reality?

Page 2, Game 17: Social Justice Warriors by Nonadecimal

“a satirical game about online interaction”

Game, if you’re using SJW as a pejorative, I am dialing the Jerkass ALL the way to eleven. Fair warning.