Post by Beckett on Feb 16, 2017 10:06:16 GMT -5
These last few days, I have been having quite the nice time playing Ahnayro by Alice & Smith, the Canadian game studio behind The Black Watchmen.
To this day, it saddens me that I do not have the time to paticipate in The Black Watchman as I would like to, I was delighted to find out that Alice & Smith had released a single-player puzzle game connected to this world, and indeed, the game feels a lot like a small set of - somewhat simpler - single player missions from their flagship ARG.
The player takes on the role of a researcher, rifling through the dreams of a female patient at a sleep clinic. The progress through the game is respresented by a strange artifact, covered in a number of lines and nodes; to gain access to inactive nodes, one must figure out the meaning of the dream segments contained in the ones before.
The larger nodes contain the dream fragments, a research-based sort of riddles. The player is presented with an audio narration of the dream, a number of items and a written clue, which can then be researched "in the waking world" - online. Each of the large nodes I have activated so far contains between three and four dream fragments, which in turn consist of three or four riddles each. The solutions to the last riddles in turn will have something in common, which must then be found out.
The smaller nodes contain bits and pieces of information, such as journal entries from the subject and links to websites connected with the clinic she is treated at. Information found there might be needed to unlock more information in the dream, so the player will find themselves going back and forth between the Dream and the waking world to progress through the game.
The riddles are not too hard, and I have not found myself solving any ciphers or looking for a one-pixel wide barcode in a picture on one of the websites so far - as it would occasionally happen during my time at The Black Watchmen. The riddles are largely research based, so a good instinct for the right keywords to google usually yields the answer without too much potential for frustration.
Between the main dream puzzles and the ARG-like forays into the "waking world" (and I believe that I have seen one of their own websites before during a Black Watchman mission, so I suppose the games are set in the same world) the journey is quite the important part of the experience as a whole. There are a lot of interesting tidbits to be found along the way, and I have read some articles and websites more thoroughly than was absolutely necessary to solve the riddle and move on.
The voice acting and the soundtrack complement the narrative quite well, so switching to a browser window all the time can be a bit jarring at times, but I found myself quite drawn in by the overall mood. Alice & Smith intended the game to be only playable at night, but for convenience this can be disabled in the game menu.