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In many ways, it's what you need.

We want a whole bunch of things from a whole bunch of different games.

We want some to be gruellingly hard. We want some to be epic stories. We want some to be invigorating power fantasies. Apparently, we even want some with customisable naughty bits.

Sideways, developed by Superstroke, caters to a very different want. It offers us a moment of peace that, while short, stays with you long after you finish the 30-min-max playtime.

I downloaded Sideways without reading any of the summary, and personally, I’m glad I did because I found my journey with the game all the more satisfying because of it.

When I booted the game up, I was taken aback by the sheer atmosphere of the place. I found myself playing as a black-haired girl wearing brown who… was a black-haired girl wearing brown. She was standing in front of what looked like some kind of temple. For a second, I fooled myself into thinking that this was some kind of disappointment. No name? no stated goal? Not so much as an arrow on screen? What was this?

The game’s world seem to stretch out to the left and right, so with that in mind, I did what anyone else would have done. I picked a direction and started moving. It was then that I noticed that the camera was doing something funny- it was following my character, but a lot slower than the pace at which I was moving. It felt unique, clever and utterly calming. I noticed the fog in the foreground. That wasn’t bog-standard RM2K3 weather effect. It seemed like a custom job. Nice.

Not long after, I noticed the background music. It was distinctly Asian, but not… can I say “video game Asian”? You know the type, the kind designed for ninja battles and pop-dance videos. What I was hearing instead was soothing. I started wondering what kind of game I was playing?

I later asked myself the same question again when I came across the side quest. With only a couple of notable exceptions, most of them seemed to be fetch quests. What was more curious was that not once did any character actually ask me for something. All the communication was done through pictures. What did this make Sideways? Was it the kind of surrealist, mindblowing game that you have to message the developer to discover what the hell the story was, like Withered? I liked that kind of game, so I decided to keep going.

When I completed the quests, I found myself back at the temple at which I started. A block-sliding puzzle later and I found myself. Finishing the game. Had this been any other game I would have lost it. I would have thrown my laptop across the room declaring that my time had been wasted.

So why didn’t I feel it now?

Why did I feel so content?

Was the game’s narrative, not the point?

I guess so.

Rather, the point seemed to be giving the player a moment of serenity. We’re missing that recently. If we’re not living in fear of a disease then we’re raging at police and political injustice. Maybe this was just a time I needed to be in a place where everything was the way it should be. Maybe I just needed a time to feel outside of myself and my opinions of how the world was going.

And Sideways gave that to me.

That thing I wanted so badly.