I like trying out games that are attempting something a little different even if that means it’s more of a concept in progress rather than a fully formed execution. A Sketchbook About Her Sun is not a game in the strictest sense – its an album by a band called Red Ribbon that has been visualised into a visual novel. As the music plays, you’ll watch some semi-static images illustrate the album’s story and make some choices on screen.
As a concept, the idea of an interactive album is a great one. Red Ribbon’s album called ‘Planet X’ is an indie rock album and has a few catchy tunes mixed in with some moody slow to medium tempo tracks. It’s a little muddy but plays the indie rock vibe relatively straight and safe. The music is fine and the images themselves are nice too. The problem here comes with the lack of real interaction or influence from the player on what is going on. You are given a few cues to affect some of the onscreen graphics or minimal design choices. Ultimately, nothing really changes and the outcome is the same but that’s going to be the case because the music will always be the same for fully composed songs. It’s an experience that’s over in 35 minutes and unless you really like specific songs there is no incentive to return.
However, the concept itself has really fascinated me. I wonder if by leaning in to the choices matter idea you can have an album that weaves through 6 of 10-12 tracks dynamically through choices you make to build your own EP. I’ve also seen elsewhere an album that translates tracks into tarot cards and let you shuffle the album and play the cards as a deck. I feel like this concept is a great one and could be mined for loads of ideas and slants on albums as games to be explored. Look at what Sayonara Wild Hearts did for example. This game is a much more modest toe dip into the merger of games and album music and a a result it feels more of a curious oddity rather than a fully formed product.
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