Small Island Games unites young and old artforms in this poetic adventure
The poetic Haiku Adventure mixes young and old artforms
Haiku – a venerable Japanese poetic form with a three-line, 5-7-5 syllable structure – and the point-and-click adventure might seem odd bedfellows, but as Small Island Games co-director Ceri Williams observes, both hinge on an element of reflective curiosity. “What we love about haiku is that apparently they’re supposed to be discovered, not written, which really suits a game about looking for inspiration,” he says. The game in question is PC and mobile odyssey Haiku Adventure, in which a pilgrim wanders single-screen environments, composing poems by interacting with objects and characters to reveal lines of verse.
The game’s beautifully wrought landscapes are based on ukiyo-e woodblock prints – literally, “pictures of the floating world”. Puzzle outcomes within range from the improbable, such as triggering a distant volcano to awaken a bird, to the fantastical: petals forming a bridge, for instance.
The haiku themselves are written by a researcher, Amy Butt, in an intriguing balancing of the needs of poem and game. “They need to have their own rhythm, but they’re also functional, mechanical things that need to be understood,” Williams explains. The result may be one of 2019’s more breathtaking specimens of both visual art and writing.