Friday, August 1, 2014

Indie Impressions - Eidolon

 Eidolon

Now Available on Steam

Developed by Ice Water Games

 "He was sounding the deeps of his nature, and of the parts of his nature that were deeper than he, going back into the womb of Time."
  -Jack London, The Call of the Wild

Greeted with the slow twanging of an acoustic guitar and the soft playing of a sad sounding fiddle, the misty land ahead of you is devoid of any sign of human life. Only the rolling green hills, groves of forests teeming with wildlife, and icy mountaintops remain all concealing mysteries of the past and the loss of a culture once thriving.

This civilization long lost, leaving behind only traces of what was once its former glory. The world is now empty as you seek to find answers to your past.

Broken images and entities before you, a fox greets you from afar and you give chase only to see it disappear behind a tree seconds later. Are these visions of what once was, or are they simply the ramifications of your lost and wandering mind? This is a truly psychological undertaking.


Using my newly scavenged tinder I pitch a fire by the bend of a flowing creek, the eyes of nearby deer watching me gaze up at the stars and clouds rolling by. Dawn breaks through the treetops and the singing of birds is heard, I've survived another cold night alone in these woods and can continue my exploration. Eidolon is a genuinely natural experience, it is the closest experience to nature you'll find in any form of interactive entertainment.

Despite living in the West Coast most of my life I have never had the pleasure of visiting Washington but did grow up camping in the wilderness of Big Sur and Santa Cruz and the feelings evoked by this game really bring me back to those places. Based on discussions between the developer and play testers the transcribing of the wooded lands are depicted very accurately - accurate enough to have playtesters' journey tracked on a real world map


Massive landscapes reach out endlessly past the horizon providing several hours of exploration in any one direction, and is fleshed out with several more hours of narrative-rich collectables in the form of documents, articles, and lovingly crafted writings of the people who previously called Western Washington their home. Their fate is yours to discover.

The shift from day to night is gradual and realistic, drawing you into your surroundings through bright pink-orange hues of the sunset to the pitch black dead of night lit only by the vibrant and beautiful stars above. The land you travel is authentic in its portrayal, there's an obvious amount of devotion and love put into details.


Nothing repeats and nothing overstays its welcome, you are constantly on the move into new lands to discover new histories. Evolving and changing with the scenery around you is the melancholy and serene soundtrack, utilizing a wide array of wood and stringed instruments that encompass the natural wonder you find yourself in. Before even starting Eidolon I was taken aback by the very subdued sounds being reminded almost of the backdrop to a Jim Jarmusch film, giving me vibes of the improvised soundtrack for the Old West-themed Dead Man with its subterranean guitar twangings.

Upon questioning one of the developers on the origin of Eidolons' incredible, massive, and evolving soundtrack I learned that the masterpiece had been composed by a full-time English instructor at Western Washington University, from which several of the development team had recently graduated from. By some fluke, the man that had apparently taught these developers about game design in the first place ended up making this engrossing soundtrack for their first commercial game, and what a soundtrack it is. This shows that Eidolon comes from very personal and very human roots, and with a background in professionalism and academics.


The first reaction from fans of the explorative genre of games will be quick to compare Eidolon to the likes of Dear Esther or Proteus, but the similarities stop right at the visuals. This is clearly a much grander experience and manages to shed the ill-perceived "walking-simulator" tag by providing much more than simply taking in your surroundings.

This is a living breathing world, your actions have consequences and your survival depends on your alertness, foraging, and hunting capabilities. History and culture is all around you and only needs to be discovered for the bigger picture to become clear.

1 comment: