Waking’s premise made me cry, but I’m not convinced

TinyBuild Games offers a Sanitarium-like psychological tale.

There’s a great resemblance between tinyBuild’s recently announced game Waking and the all-time classic adventure title Sanitarium. Both of these games explore the underlying truths, fears and weaknesses of the human mind in a coma.

Sanitarium was all about a man in a coma who struggles to wake up and explores the terrifying world of his mind, ultimately understanding his situation and that of the ones close to him. Waking is far more personal, and when I read the game’s description provided by tinyBuild and developer Jason Oda, I cried. Yes, I did.

The thing about Waking is that the main character’s memories are supposed to be a reflection of whoever’s playing the game. Its narrative involves gathering our most precious memories and loved ones in meaningful encounters as we progress through each different fantastic world created by the coma we’re in.

The game will come to understand if what we miss the most is our long dead pet, our mom, dad or a friend. This will be possible thanks to a dynamic narrative system that Waking will use to provide us with the most personalized experience possible.

So why did I cry? Well, because I thought about it. I thought about a game that will trigger these feelings in me: reuniting with my pet dog from my childhood in a dreamy environment, getting to hug her one last time after all these years. I thought about that and much more, trust me. And it got to me.

Waking

Ask yourself — what are the sacred relics of your life? A handful of dirt from your home town? A pet that died long ago? The eyes of the one you love?

“At the end of quests, you are asked to close your eyes and listen to a guided meditation where you envision memories from your life. You then enter these memories into the game through a series of choices. These customized memories become your weapons in the game.”

But I’m not convinced with how the game looks. I’m not sure that the visual experience will be able to anchor all of these feelings. Waking’s trailer shows some clunky animation and not very attractive gameplay and combat. I just think that the game could’ve been shaped differently, and even molded into a different genre. Maybe a walking simulator? I don’t know. Just take a look for yourselves and make your own judgement. Using memories as weapons? I know it’s a metaphor, but it looks too practical.

“WAKING is a game designed for fans of Souls-like games in that it maintains a high (but adjustable) level of difficulty and challenge. Several key differences in the gameplay and combat systems, however, would make it fall outside of the genre.”

Waking is scheduled to be released this summer and I’ll sure check it out, but even with such a moving premise, its translation to the interactive realm seems a bit off. But hey, that’s just me.

Associate Editor

Our boy from Buenos Aires, Juan has been a gamer for as long as he can remember (and possibly even longer than that). He loves a good story, and believes every indie game has a compelling one to tell.

Juan Manuel Fontan

Associate Editor Our boy from Buenos Aires, Juan has been a gamer for as long as he can remember (and possibly even longer than that). He loves a good story, and believes every indie game has a compelling one to tell.