I’m in EGX’s Indie Arcade, a corridor crammed with excited chatter, sweaty bodies vying to get past and blaring music from Sos Sosowski’s Achtung Arcade. Yet these things fade away as I find myself at a beautiful lakeside in Canada, breathing in time with the wind and completely at peace – no – at home.

Text appears, telling me to break the surface of the water and hesitantly, for fear of breaking the balance of nature, I do. Each brief embrace of stone and water causes piano notes to play whilst the wind continues to swirl. As time passes the weather begins to change, the once warm hue turns swiftly to grey followed by thunder as lower octave notes bellow with each stone cast into the lake.

It may not be action packed but Skipping Stones presents an atmosphere which is all consuming and is, without a doubt, my favourite game of the show (not an easy accolade to gain). Though the build I played only allowed me to throw stones into the lake as well as listen to and witness changes in the environment, the release promises exploration and a more complex music system to allow for melodies and modifiers rather than just piano notes.

SS1

The stark simplicity of Skipping Stones struck me and the poetry that appears as text on screen compliments the raw emotional atmosphere flawlessly. Skipping Stones’ inherent sadness is certainly a unique and extremely personal experience, though it was inspired by Saleem Dabbous’ sudden loss of a close friend, the poetry written by his partner was inspired by the emotional turmoil of a break-up and other members of the team also had their own distinct input as a result of their own experiences.

Skipping Stones’ imagery has a distinct beauty which helps to create this intense atmosphere. The bold colours and shapes hit that same nerve that makes you want to go home and retreat to bed in the face of any disaster, taking heart in home comforts. It makes you feel like a child again, able to find beauty and joy in the smallest of things, a state which many of us revert to after any significant loss.

What Skipping Stones shows is that emotional pain is the same for all of us; regardless of the reason, any choking, suffocating pain evokes the same basic emotional response and needs. The need to escape and find somewhere ‘other’ without constant reminders of your loss, a place that enables you to be alone without the damning ‘are you OK?’ A place that allows you to be honest with your emotions where you can scream, cry, shout, throw things, do whatever you feel like without being questioned or told to control yourself for the sake of others.

Skipping Stones is that place. There’s no one to judge or control you, you simply exist without another soul in sight.

About The Author

Contributor

Ria is a student with a penchant for dark RPGs, warped puzzlers and a good story. She’s not a typical gamer with interests ranging from literature, art and foreign films to trance, hard house and tech. You can find her on Twitter @introskeptive where she muses about games, politics and life in general.

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