Thursday, August 20, 2009

3. Windosill

Windosill is the story of a toy car, a little blue box with wheels and a smokestack, who one day dares to journey outside of its confining storage shelf. You, armed with the power to touch, carry, poke, prod, and experiment, will lead the toy through a cool blue dream presented in stages, a series of shadow-boxes full of curious characters and structures, each with its own puzzle to be solved.

WindosillThis is the new point-and-click (and drag and tug and spin) game from Vectorpark, a.k.a. Patrick Smith, who brought us the enigmatic Feed the Head, among other wonders. In fact, Windosill is very similar to Feed the Head. It lets you explore a surreal environment by touching things, watching their incredibly smooth animation as they respond to you, and unpeeling their internal logic. You do travel from place to place this time, but as with all of Smith's work, the focus is always, always on playfulness and discovery.

Unlike Feed the Head, Windosill costs a few dollars to play the full game. The first half is free, however, and worth experiencing on its own.

Is it worth buying the second half of the game? Yes. Yes, it really is. It won't occupy you for long, but neither will it waste your time. Playing through it more than once reveals all kinds of connections you wouldn't notice the first time. Even the winking blob in the first room has new resonance when you know the fractal mutant it appears as later.

Analysis: It's a joy to play Windosill, because although the tone is dreamlike, the population is so physical. Each object has its own weight and material, its own squishiness, sproinginess and yield. When you click on some widget or worm, your cursor disappears as the object reacts, and every time, you feel like you just reached into the screen and grabbed hold of something solid.

Smith offers a world where everything is magical, where you can discover the rules from scratch, like a child. The laws of physics are more or less familiar, but everything else is new. You play with Windosill and it plays back, sharing its secrets in baby steps, never cheating, never even betraying the presence of puzzles or goals. It feels like before you arrived, all these geometric plants and bird heads and giant moons were just sitting there lonely, blue, waiting for a playmate.

Windosill may be short, but it feels complete. The beginning is just like any other morning, right down to pulling open the curtains to check the weather, but the ending is downright spiritual. This game will reward you and intrigue you, inspire you without preaching, leave you wanting more.

Play Windosill HERE

(Cheers to Miranda for passing this game on)

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