As far as I’m concerned, the age-old debate over whether or not games could be art was settled long ago. Though the vast majority of mainstream, big budget games would struggle to be thought of as art, there are countless examples of indie games that undoubtedly fit the description.
Old Man’s Journey is, in my humble opinion, one of those games. It’s a brief, simple game that sees you cast in the role of – you guessed it – an old man, undertaking a long, exhausting and sometimes perilous journey across an unnamed country.
In gameplay terms, it’s unusual and unique; all you do is shift pieces of landscape up or down, move the old man across the scenery that you manage to join together and nudge him to move on to the next scene.
In doing so, you trigger the old man’s memories – and you’ll gradually build up a picture of who he is and what happened to cause him to undertake his journey, despite – or perhaps because of – his age.
It’s a sad tale, full of regret, sadness and lost love. It is, by the end, ultimately heartwarming, redeeming and quite the tearjerker. In keeping the mechanics simple and the puzzles gentle, the game doesn’t outstay its welcome – though short, Old Man’s Journey moves at a gentle pace towards its conclusion, much like its protagonist. The visuals have a lovely hand painted look and the soundtrack is beautifully chilled out.
It’s quite an experience and it’s a journey well worth taking. Though the debate rages on, games such as Old Man’s Journey prove that there shouldn’t be a debate at all; there’s any number of titles that’ve proven that games really can be art.