Game

Octopus Pie Creator Meredith Gran’s Perfect Tides Is All Teen Emotions

If you ask me to describe Perfect Tide In a word, I’d call it honesty. Give me two words and I’ll add an adverb of appropriate weight: brutally honest.

Point and click adventure game created by Meredith Gran, author of online comics Octopus cake, and her studio, Three Bees, sometimes shocks me with where it’s willing to go and what it’s willing to do. While Gran used Octopus cake to discover her 20s, Perfect Tide explores life as a teenager in the early 2000s. Although I had never lived on a deserted island for three seasons of the year where I had to take the ferry to school, it was around that time that I realized : dial-up modems, AOL instant messaging and intimate online communities. There is comfort to Perfect TideBut there are also horrors.

mara standing on the pier outside her house

Image: Three bees

I realized the sheer horror and stupidity of being a teenage girl – a strange thing at that point – and the emotions that came with it. Arguing with siblings for screen time, both wanting and not wanting to be kissed, and being spoiled by their parents. Perfect Tide honestly expressing all kinds of pain, the kind of pain that I don’t want to admit even to myself. One scene in particular stands out: Mara, the main character, is standing with some new friends on a pier. She was with all these people but still felt lonely, as if she spoke another language. She admits to herself something that scares me because of how strongly it resonates: “You have fantasized about a tragedy in your life that will make you fall in love with someone else. You have dreamed of having a reason, some justification for the way you are existing in people’s minds. ”

Perfect Tide switching back and forth between dark, complicated sensations and silly, sometimes funny teen dramas in the six to seven hours it took me to finish the game.

Gran told Polygon: “I really want to talk about loneliness, a feeling of hopelessness that there is a huge gulf between where you are and where you want to be. “There are a lot of movies and TV shows about kids who are just a few degrees out of their popularity – just for certain events to happen, there’s something special about them that just needs to be unlocked. I don’t want to approach this that way. “

mara and a blonde

Image: Three bees

Gran wants the player to live in this lonely place. There are, of course, temporary exits: For Mara and me, it was into our world and online community, a space where everything feels as real as the outside world, even when people other say it is not advisable. But there’s no escape from adolescence and the confusion, joy, and horror that come with it. It will change, but it’s hard to say when. “You will live in intense anticipation for those changes.”

Perfect Tide‘the gameplay is like an explanation for that idea. No real end goal is communicated to the player. In one example, I started with a simple task to complete: bringing groceries home. Once I figured that out – after struggling to understand the mechanics a bit – I was left with only a few clues as to where to go or what to do next. Perfect Tide feels purposeless in a way that enforces a story about wandering, but not in a way that pulls me out of the game. And so I move from place to place, clicking around. When using the roller, the pointer changes: There is an eye to see things, a hand to touch things, and a small human icon to go around. Items can be removed from the backpack and also used to interact with the world. The story is rooted in exploring, traveling around the island and through Mara’s online life.

Gran said that she thought about this in the past while making comics. That art form helped her consider the user experience, playing with the form to control the viewing angle as much as possible. That idea turned into a game; Perfect Tide was her first. The big difference is that she can watch people experience Perfect Tide in a way that’s not really possible with comic books. “The comic version would have to be, like, I’m standing on top of you while you read the book out loud and react to things,” Gran said. “That won’t be possible.” Because people stream on Twitch, the experience is different: They’re there to show off performance while experiencing the game. “I feel like a freak when I look at some of that,” Gran laughed.

an old car full of people

Image: Three bees

“Sometimes the streamers get so frustrated by something that they react in a way that there is almost no audience there,” says Gran. “A lot of the time, streamers start to remember things about themselves and start relating to those things openly – the very intimate, embarrassing, or horrifying things they come up with. […] It’s like a group therapy session over and over again. I could never have expected something like that. ”

Gran will continue to do the comics, but she says the game will likely be her vehicle “in the near future”.

“This made me realize that people can deepen their understanding with games,” says Gran. “You can communicate with another human being in a way, like – I’ve never had that kind of connection with people before.”

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