The Fair

The Fair is a experimental exploration game developed for Gameboy dealing with environmental destruction, the melting of digital and non-digital spaces, sound and magic.

You explore a area that might have been depleted by a power plant; the fishes that once were the source of life and a centerpiece of the towns culture have disappeared from the lake. Equipped with a game-boy you scout for „links“ between different places, penetrating the essence of your time and eventually entering a pale, destroyed otherworld and its modern core – although this interpretation might be highly subjective as the game has a strong surrealist note, similar to some works of David Lynch or Kiyoshi Kurosawas Charisma.

The developers wrote a text about the ideas behind the game, and released it in this damn cool paranormal arts paper – where they propose to use video games to deal with the reality in a way that shows the fluidity of „real“ and „virtual“ spaces, and allows (similar to the use of hallucinogen drugs, I would say) to recognize reality as a constructed yet material space. The developers say they believe that the uncanny, sometimes creepy atmosphere of older games is a result of their often bare-bone design that reveals the uncanny, unreal component of the „real“ world itself, rather than the lack of utopian possibilities in a capitalist world after the fall of the iron curtain that might be (as proclaimed by Mark Fisher) the cause of the prevalence of nostalgia in modern media. On the same time, the game is still rather nostalgic-apocalyptic and mysterious-melancholic than creepy – probably there is no escaping from Fishers Hauntology in 2023.

The gameplay of this game is rather minimal; you move, use a key to inspect or interact with objects in the world, and another one to trigger a kind of sonar with your ingame gameboy. At some point you are asked to activate an additional soundtrack via soundcloud – I recommended to do so. The controls and gameplay are sometimes a bit notchy, but this is fully outweighed by the graphics, sound/music, and very atmospheric game world: Noisy, distorted tunes accompany you while you ravage through deserted industrial sites, Calligari-esque streets and paganic churches – a dense, interesting and unique experience.

The developers are a duo describing their work as „making noise, music and videogames with lo-fi processes and malfunctioning haunted media“, and they recently released another game that’s surely worth to check out. I have seriously no idea how I stumbled upon them: When I started this blog, one of the biggest time killers was to search for interesting games – now, nearly a year later it seems that such stuff just started to manifest itself around me.

The Fair is available either as download or playable in browser; the latter worked without any problems on OpenSuse Thumbleweed.

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