Writing for Waypoint, Lewis Gordon shares the story of ’29,’ an upcoming indie game that explores the reality and surreality of the end of college life, living with roommates, and coping with social anxiety.
“For me, my time at uni was the most that had ever gone on in my life. The fact that it was ending was really strange and I wanted to document it somehow,” Davison explains, sipping on a mug of tea. “But because it’s semi-autobiographical, I can kind of abstract parts of it and maybe make things that don’t seem that big, bigger.”
Fittingly, there are moments where the game takes on the form of a confessional; drama wrought from the smallest of the details. In 29’s case, the narrative thrust exists around an upcoming barbecue that Ao and Bo feel uncertainty over, a skeletal framework designed to explore the pair’s relationship and, importantly, to contextualize the social anxiety Davison experienced in the house.
That social anxiety is conveyed through the game’s presentation with 29’s dioramic perspective sitting in an empty space. It exists in a spatial vacuum and you shift them around the walls 90° at a time, hemming in Ao and Bo to an almost suffocating degree. “You can’t leave the house until the end of the game and that’s a choice we made. It’s not a case of the character not wanting to leave, it’s a case of them not being able to leave,” says Davison quietly. “I’m trying to get across the feeling of disassociating, that sense of feeling outside yourself and kind of not feeling real.”
You can try an early version of 29 now by supporting its creators’ Patreon, or follow them on itch.io for future updates. While you’re there, check out inh-exh, a breathing exercise in Twine form released by Tom Davison, one of 29’s creators.