David OReilly’s interactive debut invited us to watch a Mountain; for its successor, he’s cast his net much wider. Everything’s hook is the ability to assume control of, well, everything, living or otherwise. You can commandeer a cow or hijack a street lamp, float around as a grain of sand, or observe an accelerated daynight cycle as a shifting landmass. It purports to be an interactive nature simulation, but that suggests a recognisable imitation, when this is altogether stranger.
OReilly gives his players a little more to do, as well as be, this time. Inhabit, say, a cedar tree, and you can turn one into a group by holding a button when adjacent to others. Later you’ll gain the ability to draw in other flora, just as pagodas and skyscrapers, or cakes and fried eggs, can band together. You’ll ascend and descend through layers of existence, moving onto planets, star clusters and entire galaxies until you reach an atomic level and the cycle starts anew. This time, the tiniest object you now inhabit may – and in all likelihood will – take you someplace completely different from before, perhaps not even bound to an earthly plain.
There are whispers of Journey in the ability to communicate by ‘singing’ to other objects, while in the rudimentary animation of its subjects and their steadily increasing scale, it resembles an arthouse Katamari
Damacy. Yet the Keita Takahashi game to which it’s most closely related is Noby Noby Boy, since both are absurdist sandboxes where joy is found in unlikely interactions between seemingly unrelated things.
At regular intervals, you’ll happen across audio snippets from lectures by the late British philosopher Alan Watts. Chances are that the clip playing will be only tenuously connected to what’s unfolding on screen. Yet the overriding message – that we and all things are integral parts of a glorious whole – percolates, promoting an atmosphere of warmth and optimism.
You might wonder at times whether OReilly isn’t trying to pull a practical joke, one designed to have critics scrambling to derive meaning from a snooker table spouting non sequiturs as an oversized tardigrade floats by. Thoughts you accumulate from ‘talking’ to objects are as likely to be asinine or inconsequential as to strike a note of searing profundity, depending on the emotional baggage the player brings with them. This scattergun approach results in periods of tedium mixed with flashes of emergent comedy and surreal brilliance. Still, if nothing else, the wide-eyed manner in which
Everything explores the interconnectedness of, well, everything feels faintly radical in these divided times – even when that means you somehow find yourself relating to a spiral of sentient poop.
Achieving 100 per cent completion might seem a rather onerous long-term goal, but with the ability to pick up things belonging to the same category as you pass by, your total percentage will increase quicker than you realise