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Quiet, unassuming adventure games seem to be the font by which game developers share some of the darkest human emotions. Hindsight is an upcoming adventure/puzzle game developed by Joel McDonald and published by Annapurna Interactive. It’s about grief, memories, and looking back at your life, just as the name suggests.
I got to see Hindsight in a hands-off preview a while ago, where I watched a snippet of gameplay. The game follows a woman named Mary as she returns to her childhood home following the death of her mother. The player can see various points in Mary’s life through “apertures,” or small objects that offer a window into that time. The apertures can be anything from a drop of water, or a cloud, or a flower.
The apertures overlap within memories, leading players on a sort of ramble through Mary’s life and her interactions with her late mother. Apertures can also be moved in order to unlock new memories. It’s a strictly linear experience, but the user’s curiosity will determine whether they unlock optional memories.
Speaking with McDonald and narrative designer Emma Kidwell, both stated the game’s subject matter was inspired by real-life experiences. Kidwell told GamesBeat that she saw a lot of herself in Mary, as well that games starring adult women are becoming more common across the industry.
One of Hindsight’s main emotional beats is complex grief. As McDonald said, one of the emotional pillars of the game is confronting “not always knowing your loved ones.” I also don’t see enough mother-daughter relationships in games, so Hindsight’s story already interests me.
Of course, my one issue with what I saw of Hindsight is the one issue I have with all games of this stripe: Making the player experience human emotions and empathize with characters is all well and good, but a game must also make an effort to engage. There’s a tipping point where a quiet, minimalist adventure game becomes just plain uninteresting.
It would break my heart if the game tips over that point, since it’s very pretty and has an interesting central mechanic. But Kidwell and McDonald both acknowledged that managing user engagement is a high priority for them, so here’s hoping they can manage it.
Hindsight has no release date yet, but is set to launch on Switch, the App Store, and Steam.