Preview by Richard Winstone
From indie developer Jason Oda Waking Demo has been in development for 4 years, with Jason Oda as the lead and a small team of freelance developers. Firstly the email I received about the demo launch, some very bold claims about a game triggering memories of your childhood a warning not to play if you suffer from any mental illness, a game THAT Powerful….Really.
Now I’m no phycologist but I am a curious person and the human mind has always intrigued me, yes there leading questions used by physic’s (believe in them or not my personal opinion is simple information gathering and playing on your emotional response). The obvious childhood pet lost someone dear to you you know the drill. There an abundance of phycological test and studies that are proven to provide such emotional responses and assist in gaining information we are either unwilling to give up or simply isn’t in the front of our minds, a question here a poke there and before you know it your remembering tiny details lost in the supercomputer that is the human mind.
So I set out planning how I would take on this demo, headset check, always make for a more immersive experience, time of day? The night when it’s dark and little to no distractions from the outside world and I agreed it would wholeheartedly jump in and try and allow the game to do as intended.
The premise of the game is you’re in a coma, a dream state deep inside your own subconscious, the forces of darkness trying to lead you to the light, reminding you that you are human, you suffered, you have lost, you have struggled with the world and your self. Let go all your fears all your pain can be relieved by following the path, joining them in the next whatever that may be.
Your lead to think of the negatives in life, before your guardian. no guide, offers you a return to the living, the path requires you to remember the good, your beliefs, your knowledge, your experiences. There are some really powerful parts requiring you to close your eyes and remember after some probing questions about a childhood pet, your home town, and if you let it, really it can vividly place you back, visualizing my childhood dog Sally, slowly drifting down a back road at night, the almost eery glow of the amber street light as it reflects off the damp road (I grew up in Wales, its always raining) the sounds the smells really did come back to me, joy and sadness struck me all at once, fellings rather than memories of the times back in my home town came flooding back.
So yes if you let the game in and your open to it it will really trigger the memories it suggests. As for the game, it’s self, the beautiful yet dark graphics really does set a conflicting tone between life and death, the tools of your own self-torture, followed by open fields and common items like tire, boxes, and barrels as you harness your own strengths as telekinetic abilities to fight off the darkness, unlocking memories allowing neural pathways to reconnect as you drive towards your goal of waking, the action-adventure part of the game is genuinely very good in its own right, my only real criticism is the control system could do with some fine-tuning as I accidentally dived off the side of the map on several occasions.
If your looking for outright action-adventure, this game isn’t for you it’s good but there are plenty other titles out there that provide a more polished and focused approach, but if your open to a bit of mind-bending, curious about human nature and willing to really immerse yourself you really need to keep an eye on this title due for release later this year. It’s almost hypnotic in nature and I’m really looking forward to playing the full game later in the year. With so many games making such huge statements about there titles, it was great to see Jason Oda actually deliver.
I’m not going to score the Waking demo because this title really is a personal choice, the demo is currently available on steam I implore you to check it out and is due for release on Steam and Xbox later this year.