A strange and colorful interactive art exhibition.
0°N 0°W is developer Colorfiction’s first game, and it’s certainly unlike any other. It begins with a full motion video depicting a road trip. What follows that video are many, many doors leading to many, many worlds.
The first world I explored in 0°N 0°W was a desert with great sand dunes. Trained by so many other games, I searched for my objective—my destination. But I found myself lost, because the game provides no direction. I didn’t know what to do or where to go; nothing in my surroundings could be interacted with. So I just kept moving, and eventually new objects, large Mayan-inspired structures, appeared on the horizon. I explored. I finally did find my objective, a door, and that door took me to a new world.
Almost unconsciously, I interpreted my experience in this first world as a metaphor for a road trip, using the game’s intro FMV as context. Often on a road trip, getting lost is the objective, and it’s only when you get lost that you have the most memorable experiences.
However, the second world I explored in 0°N 0°W told a completely different story, and the world after that another. One world, a colorful cityscape with eerie polygonal security drones and traffic sounds, seemed to tell a story of a dystopian future. Another, a small farmhouse surrounded by emptiness, told a story about leaving home.
These stories were not the game’s; they were mine. 0°N 0°W is ultimately an interactive art exhibition (it’s actually been exhibited at the Children’s Museum of the Arts NYC), that is open to interpretation by those who play it. Its simple mechanics facilitate endless stories and meanings, and you’ll undoubtedly discover your own as you traverse its expansive, fractal worlds.
But you needn’t develop stories or meanings to enjoy the game. Often, I delighted in the simple aesthetic pleasure of the sights and sounds of the worlds. My favorite world featured nothing but sharp, angular geometries inspired by German Expressionism.
It seems strange to talk about controls in a game like 0°N 0°W, but they leave a lot to be desired. The game was a little more playable with a controller, but the camera was still overly sensitive for my liking.
Like an art exhibition, 0°N 0°W can be experienced in five minutes or five hours, and—like all art—your mileage of it will certainly vary. Some will likely become bored by its lack of direction and mechanical depth, but if you give yourself over to its psychedelia, you might find something lovely. Though I might have preferred a game with more direction, I enjoyed my time with 0°N 0°W and hope to see more from Colorfiction in the future.