Ev­ery­thing

Turns out you can have it all

Mac|Life - - NEWS -

$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

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