Change is a game where you play a homeless man who is down on his luck and if you watched the video, you will see I struggled with this game. Not because the interface is bad, it isn’t, or because it doesn’t run very well, it does, and not because it’s boring, it isn’t. I struggling to play this because of the subject matter and the way it makes you feel and think. I will come back to this. But to start with it seems only right to speak about the developers and the inspiration behind this unique creation.
Delve Interactive is a company based in the UK with two primary members, Jack Odell and Danny Hayes. They burst onto the scene with Poncho, a platformer puzzle adventure that scooped a few awards. After this was released they moved onto the development on Change straight away. They like to create unique games, the likes of which people would not have experienced before, and if Change is anything to go by I think they can boast this proudly. The idea for Change came about when Danny Hayes participated in a 48-hour game jam and a prototype of Change was the result. At the time, they were busy creating Poncho and were unable to pursue this idea, however due to the interest was shown in the prototype they decided that it would be worth continuing. All this information is available on their Kickstarter page.
The gameplay is simple enough. Much like a point and click adventure you can click to move around the streets of this randomly generated city. You can enter shops to buy food, guitars, beer and deodorant to name but a few. You can also apply for jobs, although don’t get too surprised if you are rejected to start with. I am a little disappointed that I have not been able to try the busking that is present in the game, but the demo that is available is three of the in-game days. Given that the start of the game seems fairly difficult, I was not able to raise enough money to buy the guitar. I did, however, make a friend on my adventures. I found a dog companion, which leads to my character starving to death as I tried to keep by new found friend well fed.
Which brings us nicely on to the main aspect of the game. Survival. It is difficult and heartbreaking. I was just trying to beg for enough money to keep me and my dog fed and to have random strangers telling me “you stick” was not a nice experience and I felt genuine joy when someone offered me a fruit to try and help me out. And I believe that this is what the game is truly about; the human condition, to give it a rather grand phrase. It isn’t forced upon you, shoving the message in your face and yelling, “look at how we treat each other, this is terrible!”. But if you can play the game and do not consider this aspect of it I would be very surprised indeed.
This despair at the human condition is emphasized by the beautiful melancholy music that is playing throughout your struggles. There is only a single soundtrack in the demo, however, I asked one of the developers, Danny, if this would be the case for the full game; he assured me that the full game will have a complete soundtrack with music to match the current mood of play, and if the rest of the music is as harrowing as the track in the demo, the soundtrack alone would be a treat.
The art style of the game suits it completely. There is nothing terribly garish about it, it sits there presenting you with the environment to explore. I was a little concerned upon reading on the Kickstarter page that they wanted the funding to be spent on additional art and animation that they would revamp the graphics to make it more realist. My fear was that if this was done the graphics would play a far bigger role within the game and some of the more subtle elements would be lost. However, Danny was there once again to reassure me that this was not the case. It was simply that they had a lot of ideas for other building and interaction that could take place, and this is what they meant, the art style would not be changing.
It is because of the understated graphics, beautiful music, heartbreaking situation and the moving dialog that’s displayed when another day passes that makes this game so difficult to play, but also, wonderfully engaging. With the aspects that they want to add I can see this being a very time-consuming game. I believe that the end goal is to allow your character to regain what he has lost, and eventually buy a home and meet a partner possibly. When you can play from start to finish I think you will be able to come away with a sense of catharsis and a burden lifted from your shoulders. I cannot wait for this game to be completed.
If you haven’t already done so, please do go to their Kickstarter page, although this has ended, there is a wealth of information about the game. And I would strongly recommend that you check out their website and, if you have the time and desire, drop them a quick email of support so they are aware of the interest in their latest project.