The Strange and Somewhat Sinister Tale of the House at Desert Bridge

As always, spoilers ahead.

This longish title belongs to the latest game by my good friend Jonas. I had long wanted to play his games and finally found some time to do so last week. They all start at very and end at extremely serious. The previous one, The Museum of Broken Memories, has to do, exactly as the title says, with broken memories – of war, of soldiers, of survivors, of the irretrievable and the devastated. Basically, all of his games talk about war, in one form or another. Desert Bridge is no exception, although here the narrative touches upon an impending war sometime towards the end of the game.

The game itself is introduced in a very clever and rather hilarious way. Obviously, Jonas had a lot of fun making it. The main contributors seem also to have immensely enjoyed working on the project. Verena Huber (also a good friend – to whom Jonas is engaged) illustrated all the lovely, tangible scenes and characters, while Helen Trevillion did the playful, flowing, momentous music. The game itself is a more-or-less typical adventure, but the (meta-)commentary (and especially the titles of the books on the shelves in the house), the actions, the characters… it just springs to life in your mind while playing. Even the electronic butler device/AI fits the bill (ha, no pun intended – read the intro to the game) quite well.

I must admit I am not very big on adventure games, but still managed to do all but one or two things in the game alone. At one point I had seemingly exhausted all available options and had to consult a walkthrough (considering that it was one a.m., I had done well till that point). It was all more than worth the effort: the insights the game gives you, and the vigour with which it depicts its memorable characters, are on a very high level. (I will not use the word “professional” here for several reasons.) Jonas knows what he wants to tell you, and he knows how to do it with aplomb. The people who help him turn the vision to usable bits and bytes are amazing. And the final result is not only engaging, touching, and substantial, but also deeply rooted in the wonderful art of storytelling. As Jonas will tell you, (computer) games are an art-form – and after playing Desert Bridge, I can only agree.

And please don’t forget to tell him how much you enjoyed the game after playing it. Have fun!

Q. W3ary

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