Irish artist David OReilly is no stranger to the profound and obscure. His credits include one of Adventure Time’s best episodes in ‘A Glitch is a Glitch’, a U2 music video, Spike Jonze’s Her, and his first video game Mountain.
His work often provokes discussion, and with Everything, it feels like OReilly has iterated on Mountain’s melancholy snowglobe gameplay to create something truly intriguing.
When I first cast eyes on the game in a pre-release trailer, I thought I understood the premise, and foolishly assumed that the final product might just be fun for a few minutes and lack any meaning. A silly game with nothing to say. You can be everything. Fun, right? Everything that the game has an asset for, that is.
This is why when I loaded up the game and it dropped me into a vast wilderness as a dopey looking monkey, I couldn’t help but giggle. On the surface, the game is rather silly. You roll around in an exceedingly strange fashion whilst rocks quip at you.
One of my favourite things about this game is the learning process. I advise you to go in without really knowing anything about Everything. You’ll definitely enjoy it more. Every so often you’ll see a colourful symbol in the aether, and a tree, stone henge, or a thatched building might teach you a piece of this puzzle.
After rolling around, collecting and disbanding a flock, and figuring out how to reproduce baby versions of yourself, you eventually reach the crux of Everything’s gameplay, Ascent and Descent.
Whilst I had a lot of fun making pigs do the dance of life (and eventually, continents and buildings) this is when the game really captured my attention. You can descend into the intricacies of a blade of grass, down into the Spore-esque primordial soup, and eventually find yourself inside the structural makeup of an atom, a vast, REZ-adjacent synth-laden treat for the eyes.
This is when Everything washed over me and I found the inherent beauty in this game. It made me deeply introspective, and I started to concern myself with the philosophical questions of life. These questions didn’t fill me with the usual fear or anxiety either, the visuals helped to bestow a wonderful feeling of hope. As the game was displaying life in motion right in front of me, I was happy to just sit back and watch.
It was meditative, and the omnipresence is staggering. As the game dragged me across alien planets and desert continents using its Autoplay mechanic, I chose to just listen. Everything provides a smattering of philosophical commentary in the form of audio logs, dealing with some of the greater questions that define our experience on the planet.
They don’t feel self-fulfilling or patronising either. Unlike The Witness and its movie theatre, the game isn’t an ardent test of IQ, so you can really kick back and ponder. In video games this feeling is rare, and if you want to treat your senses to a few hours of luxury, this game is your answer.
I eventually chose to leave the primordial soup, swapping my life as a hair follicle for a planet, and then a galaxy. Each had its own quirky movement medium, and the calming wave persisted as I let the game envelop me in its melancholic mist.
The music is wonderful, and the low-poly visuals have a great level of charm. The soft aesthetic of Everything compliments its soothing experiment.
One of my favourite moments came as I was zipping between levels of life, and I noticed that history was advancing around me. I would return to a green planet to find small neolithic structures, and eventually, castle walls, thatched rooves and skyscrapers.
Nice little touches come in the form of Atlantis-esque ruins below the continents, and boats that move between them, simulating colonies and exploration. As well as being an excellent gift for a scientific mind, the game will appeal to those interested in History and even Archaeology.
In fact, who am I kidding? If you’re interested in anything, there is room in your life for Everything. This game is profound and endearing. It will send you on a soothing, introspective adventure that is truly indescribable.
This copy of Everything was provided by Double Fine PR. Editor-In-Chief Jordan Oloman spent 6 hours exploring the miracle of human life.