The creative process is a tricky and intricate beast. How does an artist push through those creative blocks? How do they ignore the naysayers and the pressure to conform to modern ideas of beauty? Where does inspiration come from? Luckily, The Search gives us a new way to think about all of these questions.
Created by Jason Godbey, The Search plunges into the creative process with grace and poise. The voice acting of Cissy Jones, who you might know from titles such as Firewatch and Life is Strange, really makes you feel like a part of the story. Her narration and depth of character bring life to a story that would otherwise be dull and tedious. The Search is a profound experience in a small package.
We start our short atmospheric experience in a desolate land filled with darkness and a few streams of light. Lead only by cryptic notes, it is your job to venture into this mysterious world and search for clues as to why you are here. What is this world trying to show you? What will you learn about yourself?
Hurdles will need to be navigated with a dose of creativity and problem-solving. Solve the puzzles with the use of a camera, lighter, and various supplies found within the world itself. You will venture between different rooms, environments, towns. Each place holding a different key to the puzzle, a different aspect of finding yourself. This story-driven adventure is full of wonder while taking advantage of the classic point-and-click functionality.
There is something really nostalgic about old-school point-and-click puzzle games. The Search uses these time-proven strategies to guide you through the picturesque world. Puzzles are fairly simple, requiring you to do some exploring and combining of materials. If you get stuck, there is a clue system that gives you some pretty straightforward guidance. After the first couple puzzles, they will come second nature to you.
Movement around the world is uncomplicated. Areas of interest are indicated with a small magnifying glass and directional arrows show where you can travel. When clicked, one scene fades into another bringing a new area into view. There aren’t any fancy 3D movements, just clean smooth design.
The uncomplicated nature of the gameplay really allows you to focus on the content of the story. You aren’t hung up on frame rates or dexterity, you are free to let your mind wander the and contemplate all that you have found. The Search isn’t about modern flash and effects, it’s about the quality of a story and how it can affect the player.
The real appeal to The Search isn’t the complicated puzzles or inventive movements, it’s the way in which they weave these classic point-and-click features in with the beauty of the created world. Godbey has put a lot of care into the artistic elements in each scene of The Search. Every room has intricate detailing and beautiful design.
Notes and letters are strewn about providing backstory to your journey. Cissy Jones provides the narration, both of the protagonist’s thoughts and the text within the documents found. I felt that this created a more organic experience, giving a characteristically human element to a game that can seem a bit robotic in nature. Jones did a fantastic job at giving the story some depth and emotion.
The music adds an additional layer to an already superb environment. The lilting melodies prod you on in your quest and provide the perfect backdrop to a calm yet profound experience. The atmosphere in The Search was truly remarkable.
Leave them Wanting More
My one complaint with The Search is that I couldn’t spend more time with it. It took me around 45 minutes to play it beginning to end. While I was left with an adequate conclusion, I still wanted more. Godbey has struck that delicate balance between telling a story and creating a lengthy gaming experience. While I want to spend more time in the enchanting world, I recognize that the goal was accomplished in the time I spent there.
With a price tag at $3.99 (at the time of this writing), the adventure that you partake in is more than what I would expect. Big experiences can sometimes come in small packages and the time that you spend with the artist will be one that you will reflect on for days after you step away from it.
Godbey has a gift for storytelling and inspiring the player to look within. The Search inspires some self-reflection and a new perspective on our world. Proving that sometimes less is more, The Search is a game that should wind up on every gamer’s budget list.