Turns out you can have it all
$14.99 From David O’Reilly, everything-game.com Needs OS X 10.8 or later
Everything is a simulation of sorts. You play as a wayward consciousness, hopping from one host to the next. The point of the “game”, if there must be one, is simply to explore. Perhaps you start off as a muskox – braying, leading your herd, and reproducing. Eventually, a buzzing housefly, a creaking oil rig, or even a wandering asteroid will lay out Everything’s guiding principle: “This isn’t about giving you something to see, but giving you a different way of seeing.”
Initially, you can only hop into other vessels of similar size, but Everything treats ecosystems like a collection of infinitely nested Russian dolls: there’s always a smaller or larger level to explore, from ox to flea to paramecium.
Squeeze into a grain of sand and the camera pulls in tight, until wood splinters and grass stalks scrape the sky; spend a few seconds as a lenticular galaxy and realize there is something even bigger to investigate. Eventually, you’ll be able to simply will things into existence, no matter where.
All the while, the world around you teems with other creatures’ inner thoughts: jokes, reflections, and laments. You may meet a giraffe who falls in love too quickly, or an underwater strand of kelp unsure if it will survive the day. Sometimes, you’ll hear snippets of mid-century lecturer Alan Watts explaining his notion of cosmic interconnectedness. Leave the keyboard alone for more than a minute and Everything plays itself, zipping up and down the great chain of being with ease, a guided tour of all creation.
Infused with a sense of wonder and awe, Everything’s charm is in the sheer volume required to live up to its name, in the way it crams life into each nook and cranny: there is always something new to discover, some joyful juxtaposition to stumble across. To meet such technical demands, Everything adopts a lo-fi aesthetic that only amplifies its potential for serene beauty and absurd comedy.
Despite Everything’s philosophical underpinnings and O’Reilly’s roots as an experimental artist and filmmaker, Everything isn’t precious or opaque. Its novelty and boldness drive the game’s first several hours until a series of puzzles take shape.
The bottom line. As Everything’s mechanics reveal themselves and boundaries disappear, a more recognizably game-like objective emerges: to fill in the games’s overflowing encyclopedia, from Arctic fox to zebra, amoeba to quasar. Interesting, if too unguided for some tastes. Joseph Leray