Review | Everything


Everything_20170326143621Everything matters. Likewise, Everything matters. From the tiniest drop of dew on a morning leaf, to the churning gasses of Jupiter’s everlasting storms, Everything seeks to educate its players by instilling in them an appreciation for everything around them. With the assistance of recorded speeches of renowned philosopher Alan Watts, Everything is an interactive piece of brilliance that draws its players out of their defensive, myopic shells to explore and play with the vast world around them. To roam the deserts as a camel, to float about in an infinite void as a formless abstracted shape, to contemplate one’s joys and sorrows as a wad of chewed up bubble gum, Everything is truly a game about one’s place in the universe, and what that really means.

I am bighorn sheep.

Upon entering the world of Everything, the player is given the form of an object in the world. I began life as a bighorn sheep, and from there, I learned the basics of controls of the world. Let it be said that Everything is a game filled with dry humor, for the means of everything goatlocomotion of animals isn’t to run with motion-captured precision, but rather to flip atop itself, head over heels, harkening back to the simplistic animations of Katamari Damacy. It’s a simple solution to the problem of animating hundreds of different objects, and one that doesn’t feel to be detracting from the experience, but rather adding to the absurdity of life.

I am fire hydrant.

As time passes in Everything, the player continues to learn more and more about the interactions of the world. Transcendence is the name of the game, to ascend into larger objects, or descend into smaller, there is always the option for new discoveries. And that really is what the game is about: discovery. Discovery of what it’s like to be a fire hydrant on a busy street, or the discovery of what’s below that fire hydrant. Sometimes there are a few jelly beans stuck between the cracks of cement that compose the sidewalk, a few grains of asphalt strewn about, or maybe there’s a single fried egg from the heat beaming down from the sun. The beauty of Everything is that it allows for the player to become each and every thing that they see. Beyond that, the objects exist consciously, with not only sentience, but sapience. It’s quite an experience to hear a bus trash talk me for being a smoke stack. Who knew buses were so judgmental?

I am spruce beetle.

The thoughts and recollections of the things that make up Everything are the true highlight of the game. From the yearning of a spruce tree to become a coconut tree, to the fears of a cumulous cloud, it is clear that you, as an individual outside of the confines of this game, are not alone. Everything breaks the fourth wall time and again to make it clear that you, the player, are a part of its world. It engages with the player, metafictionally, as both a everything beetleconstructed game, referring to itself as a set of poorly arranged polygons, and as a sapient object within its own world yearning to find its place. A spruce beetle told me that it was happy to see me, and likewise, I became happy to see it. As I listened to Alan Watts tell me the interconnection between the space between objects and the objects themselves, as two sides of a coin, I became immersed in the world of Everything, appreciating it for it itself.

I am recursive house.

The more that I explored Everything, the more that I wanted to see. I wanted to know what was in the next ascension, I wanted to see how far I could descend. Could I become a grain of sand? An atom of carbon? A single electron? Yes, yes, and yes. The more I played, the more I wanted, and the more I wanted, the more the game knew I wanted. Without going into details, the game plays with the idea of wanting more, and in almost a Buddhist fashion, it plays with the idea of the four Noble Truths. Life is suffering, suffering is wanting, through the cessation of suffering are we able to achieve Nirvana, and the cessation can be achieved through mindful meditation and satisfaction with the self. Trapped in an endless void of my own making, I listened to the suffering and the regrets of a teapots, brains, ruins, trombones and planets alike. The same regrets we hear from those close to us near the end of their days are the ones these objects had. “I wish I spent more time with my children,” “I wish I was closer to my wife,” “I shouldn’t have been afraid to live the way I wanted to live.” Normal, every day regrets and fears that every to which every player could relate filled the void, and as it did, I began to feel suffocated by the very real anxiety that swelled within me, rising from my stomach, through my heart, and into my mind with every inhalation. I wanted to escape the void, but on every attempt to ascend, the game told me that I was trapped, that I could not escape, that this was the fate that my wanting brought me to.

I am sperm whale.

The more that I played Everything, the more that I was reminded of William Carlos Williams’ poem “The Red Wheelbarrow.”

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

Everything in the world is reliant on everything else. The water held within my glass is reliant not only on the glass so as to be a glass of water, but also on the space between the water and the glass, so as to separate the water from the glass into two distinct things. Likewise, the glass is half full, or perhaps half empty, because of the air and the molecules that compose the air. And each of those things exist wholly unto themselves, while simultaneously being a part of a whole. A half-empty glass of water is composed not only of a glass, some water, and some air, but by the conception of what a glass of water is. everything whaleWithout the language to express a what something is, it exists without description, it exists without name. The conception and description of ‘a glass of water’ is just as important as the glass and the water themselves. Similarly, Williams’ poem would not exist if it were not for the individual wheel barrow, rain water or chickens, as each and every party of things within the poem partake in the creation of the poem itself. So much truly does depend upon a red wheelbarrow, for without it, what would be glazed with rainwater, and what would be beside the white chickens? Without the water, nothing would be glazed, and without the chickens, the wheelbarrow would be beside nothing. The poem would be incomplete without each individual piece, and each individual piece would be incomplete without the others from which it can distinguish itself.

The conception of the interconnectedness of being is the heart of both Alan Watts’ teachings and the execution of Everything. Every ascension and descension leads to the sentence of, “You are X,” where X is whatever thing you have become. The exclusion of any definite or indefinite articles is the explicit breaking of the fourth wall, again, to decry that you are not playing as a bighorn sheep, a fire hydrant, a spruce beetle, a recursive house, or a sperm whale, but rather that you are all of these things, and that they are all you simultaneously. The interconnectedness of each thing allows for the separation of self from the ego, and that the individual things that compose the world are fragments of the whole.

I am everything.

Perhaps it’s my own love of philosophy and the surreal that is guiding my judgment, but Everything is an enjoyable experience from start to finish. From the simple graphical design to the laughable animations, to the grandiose ideas and impressive collection of worldly objects, Everything is a game to be enjoyed. The world is absurd, and Everything encapsulates that perfectly. From its dry humor, stark melancholy, crippling depression, encouraging bravado, and contemplative timelessness, Everything is altogether real and surreal in equal measure. Perhaps it’s more of an objet d’art than a video game, but what it never finds itself being is boring.

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