Land of Screens
Publisher: Way Down Deep
Genre: Adventure, Point and Click
Land of Screens is an indie point and click game, created by Way Down Deep (Fire Tonight, Half Past Fate) and Serenity Forge (The King’s Bird, Pinstripe) for the PC and Nintendo Switch. In the game we play as Holland, a young woman who works as an editor and has recently broken up with her boyfriend. We pick up after this relationship breakdown as Holland ponders how to post the news on her social media. We follow Holland as she navigates this and other situations revolving around the negative sides of technology and helping people communicate together without their presence.
It’s a simple enough story and the game sits at a short two hours or so in length, meaning it’s an easy one to knock out in one night. Tonally, the game is quite relaxing with it’s cute art style, muted palette of colours and sweet lo-fi music in the background. Whilst the focus on the negative aspects of social media was a little heavy-handed at times, overall I found the game a peaceful experience which didn’t out stay its’ welcome. Despite the simplicity, the game excels at emotion conveying Holland’s thoughts and frustrations and the suffocating pressure social media puts on us through the use of colours blurring the screen and changing the mood.
Throughout, you complete simple puzzles which involve Holland getting people to put their phones (or tablets, or video-games) away in order to actually communicate with one another and achieve a goal. It’s easy to see the paradox here – people are so busy observing others and worrying about their own public presence via social media that they forget to actually interact in real life. Holland herself struggles with this concept as she feels drawn towards checking the comments on her recent relationship update despite knowing it only makes her feel worse. She reaches out to her friends but feels awkward and unable to connect with them initially as they all seem too busy with their own devices – and because they’re ‘mutuals’ with her they already known her painful news, meaning her personal business is just out there in the open.
It’s a very relatable experience, even for those who haven’t gone through a public breakup, but everyone nowadays has felt the presence of technology in their lives, for better or worse. Whilst there are merits to technology of course, the game only chooses to depict the more negative ones – characters are often seen as addicts who struggle to understand others and yet no one really seems that happy. Communication suffers from the over-reliance on technology, the game seems to say and it’s quick to point out that simpler pastimes such as being with friends or family, being outside in nature and enjoying entertainment are lessened when someone has their phone out. Holland is quick to make friends with others and show genuine interest in others once her phone is out of the equation and despite the other character’s initial reluctances it’s clear they experience a similar feeling once they drop the distractions.
Visually the game is quite simple in design but I liked the stylised blocky characters, which were very emotive and instantly recognisable as typical people you might see around. The game is too short to really get to know anyone in depth but many of the characters are charming in their own way. Technically-wise the game ran pretty smoothly throughout, aside from a bit of a lag at times when moving around from one place to another.
Overall I found this game to be very wholesome and a quick, fun playthrough which didn’t outstay it’s welcome.
Land of the Screens
A cosy and cute short game which offers some nice insights on how social media increases our anxiety and hampers our communication.