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This Steam Greenlight game Islands is going to be amazing

There's non-place like home.

My story, and I'm sticking with it, is that Islands is the best video game I've ever played about LA. The reason that this is only my story is that I'm not actually sure if Islands is meant to be about LA in the first place. No matter. Whatever conclusions you ultimately draw - and you will definitely draw conclusions - Islands, which is currently working its way through Steam Greenlight, is worth keeping an eye on. It's beautiful, mysterious and rather menacing. Like I said, it's the best video game I've ever played about LA.

For me, it's about the way LA - or any modern urban place - exists in the mind when you aren't actually there very often. Islands presents you with a series of shadowy dioramas that evoke the stark, separated manner that memories of places sometimes seem to be stored. These dioramas are angular and lit with little squares and circles of sodium light that might stand in for a window, say, or a streetlamp, or the face of a clock. You view all this through a cloud of smog, these little dioramas of urban shapes, so human in their design but stripped of actual humans. Palms swing in the breeze. Cars and buses idle. An airport carousel sparks to life and the dark hulks of luggage begin to circulate. Everything is waiting for something - for people? For you?

Sure enough, this is a world that responds to clicking, each jab of the mouse cursor potentially bringing part of the diorama to life in an unexpected way. Islands is a singular game, but if I had to rope anyone else in as an indicator for how it makes me feel when I play it, I would bring in Vectorpark, another designer with a knack for stark mechanical contraptions, who understands that once a lever is pulled something absolutely beyond prediction should happen, and who knows that things can be at once childlike and filled with shifting menace.

I don't want to spoil anything about Islands beyond this basic set-up: a series of shadowy places waiting for you to play with them. I don't want to read too much about Islands myself, even, because I don't want to spoil it for me. What I will say is that this strange, wonderfully troubling game transported me further than any other game I've played in a very long time. I can't wait for it to come out.

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About the Author
Christian Donlan avatar

Christian Donlan

Features Editor

Christian Donlan is a features editor for Eurogamer. He is the author of The Unmapped Mind, published as The Inward Empire in the US.

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