Game Review | Existensis – finding inspiration through exploration
J.R.R. Tolkien once said, “Not all those who wander are lost”, it’s one of my all-time favourite quotes, and it’s something that instantly jumped into my thoughts while I was playing Existensis. If you’re looking for a game that’s filled with combat, difficulty levels, boss fights or puzzles, then Existensis is not for you. However, if you’re looking for a quiet yet impactful narrative experience with no combat, enemies or fall damage and that encourages exploring your surroundings and learning the story through conversation, then this one is for you. Existensis is a combat and damage-free experience all about finding inspiration through the meaning of life and connecting with the people you encounter along your way.
Because Existensis relies so much on story, it’s hard to talk about without giving some of the experience away. The basic gist of things, trying to go into as little spoilers as possible, is that you play as an artist known as “The Mayor” who finds himself stuck, wanting to create but lacking the inspiration to do so. The Mayor then decides to go on a journey, hoping to find the inspiration he lacks while also helping those he meets find theirs along the way.
Existensis is entirely hand-drawn and animated and was created by just one man. In a world filled with games that are seemingly competing to be the most polished and with the most flashy animations, it is a breath of fresh air to see something so rough and raw yet strikingly beautiful. Playing Existensis felt like I was sitting on a bench in an art galaxy, oblivious to the world around me, just allowing myself to get lost in the artwork before me.
Lately, I’ve been finding it hard to let myself relax. Between the pandemic, lockdown and everything that comes along with that, my mind never seems to want to switch off and just let me zone out. I think that’s why I enjoyed Existensis as much as I did. For the first time in a long time, I could sit down, relax and play something while my mind was free to wander wherever it wanted to. It’s not an experience that’s going to keep you busy for long, but it’s one that you can play as fast or as slow as you’d like. There are 15 different areas, and you could spend anywhere between 2 and 15 hours just running around, exploring and soaking in all of the conversations and lore that Existensis has to offer. Trust me when I say you want to take your time with this one because the story it tells is truly riveting.
There’s a lot to love when it comes to Existensis, but one of my favourite details has got to be the music. Everything in the game works so well together, and the music is just another element that helps create such a calming and soothing feeling that morphs to compliment each area you play through. While playing, you’ll find yourself travelling through and exploring the same areas multiple times over. Having a soundtrack that helps you feel at home takes something that could very easily be a tedious and frustrating experience and makes it feel like you’re returning to your favourite spot to wind down instead.