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Walden, a game review for PS4, PC


Platform: PS4
Also On: PC
Publisher: USC Game Innovation Lab
Developer: USC Game Innovation Lab
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E

It’s easy to be snarky about Walden, a game. After all, the book on which it’s based is a 19th century ode to the joys of getting back to nature and living simply. It seems kind of like you’re missing the whole point when you buying it online, downloading it to your PS4, and then playing it in the comfort of your home on, most likely, an HD TV.

On the other hand, it’s interesting — inspiring, even — to see a group of developers adapt a book that’s not exactly an action-packed thriller into a game. If it has the added bonus of getting someone interested in classic of Western literature, then all the better.

It’s a testament to how well USC Game Innovation Lab adapted Walden it isn’t totally unthinkable to think someone might make that connection. All credit to them for noticing that “artsy walking simulator” has become a totally viable genre in recent years, and turning Walden into one of those.

There are, of course, slight hiccups. Where games like Gone Home and Dear Esther have plots with clear goals, Walden, being based on a series of reflections about the nature of life and living, does not. Consequently, you spend pretty much all of your time here gathering supplies, reading, sleeping, and, most of all, walking. Thrilling it is not, unless you happen to something creepy and oppressive about endless solitude.

If you can get used to that, though — get used to the simple fact that Walden, a game, is just a game about being, rather than doing — you’ll get along just fine. It’s a gorgeous, meditative experience that will give you plenty of time to reflect, which makes it unlike nearly any other game I’ve ever played.

USC Game Innovation Lab provided us with a Walden, a game PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: B+