• Add Review
  • Subscribe
  • Nominate
  • Submit Media
  • RSS

This one's the real deal, folks.

  • Dragnfly
  • 11/23/2015 01:53 AM
I'll start by explaining a concept I call "manufactured feels". Similar to jump scares, manufactured feels target specific human reactions in a way to pull your heartstrings without any level of depth or forethought.

I've played lots of games with this lately. "Listen - Just a Game" is the greatest example I've seen in years of a game that does it right. From the music to the visuals to the lovable characters every emotion you're feeling while playing is brought to you by the presentation skills of the development team. None of it ever feels fake or manipulative. It just feels like it was made with a lot of good editing choices, love, and care for the project and the drive to share a great interactive story.

Visually the content stands very strong with a wide array of NPCs. Areas are the proper size, maps make sense, look good and proper care is given to each locale to make it feel authentic and natural.

Then we move onto the most important part of a story like this- the characters. A major fault of games that aim to pull at your heartstrings is that they don't create a likable cast or a consistent atmosphere and thus when sad or bittersweet stuff happens you can't get sucked in because you don't care enough about anyone. From Edna's infectious runaway imagination and Tom Tom being able to convey so much with so little right down to the NPC dialogue, the game is bursting with life. Every interaction is a memorable piece of the whole.

The game doesn't stretch out either. It's a good length to tell it's story with extra optional padding if the players wish to go there.

I also need to mention the music. Good audio quality made at a great skill level and applied properly to enhance the game. It's what a soundtrack is supposed to be.

Another places these games usually fail hard is the ending but Listen nailed it. Bittersweet on its own is insufficient for a good ending and the developers seem to realize this. Bittersweet, hopeful and fulfilling is the proper formula and it's certainly applied here. When you can say "it's sad that unfortunate things happen but this is an even better outcome than the characters could ever have hoped for" makes for a very real story.

If I could recommend anything to change, it would be putting the tally of your collectibles right at the very end, after all else is said and done. It seems less intrusive on the story. However, "Listen - Just a Game" will no doubt be something that I'll be sharing and recommending with people for years to come. I'd even strongly recommend taking the story cross-media if it hasn't been already. I'd love to see a short novel or something of it to broaden the number of people who can experience such a wonderful tale.