A Unique But Questionable Experience
I honestly don’t know how to begin here as this isn’t an experience that can be summed up in words.
0°N 0°W, pronounced “Zero North, Zero West,” is a bizarre adventure indie game from Colourfication. You are causally driving along through on a very scenic road trip, before stopping at a gas station. At this point you decide that it’ll be a good idea to abandon your car (leaving your lights on) and explore that abandoned movie theatre. You are then sucked into an expansive universe of colours and shapes, left only to explore this bizarre world.
What’s A “Game?”
I would struggle to describe 0°N 0°W as a game. You don’t have any goals or aims, or indeed anything you need to really do. You just wander through all the colours and enjoy them. In its deference I don’t think 0°N 0°W is trying to be a conventional game. Colourfication say themselves on their Steam page that 0°N 0°W is: “A minimalist reinterpretation of modern gameplay mechanisms that eliminates loading screens, user interfaces, inventories, skill trees, stats, quick time events, puzzles, etc.” The trouble is: I like those things! I like completing tasks and defeating bosses. It makes me feel like I’ve achieved something and adds a small element of joy to the boring pathetic endlessness I call my life!
I don’t know what to make of this creation because I’m a critic of games, not a critic of random world generators, or programs designed get inside your mind – whatever the aim of this program is.
I can’t deny when I started going through the endless doors and walking through the vast expanse of colours, I couldn’t help but wonder what the point of any of this was. It took me while to get involved or get into the experience and I found it hard to keep my focus. My favourite moment was when I had to walk up this endless spiral staircase, occasionally having to jump over gaps in the stairs, otherwise you fell and had to start again. It was the first time I felt like the game was trying to engage with me.
A World of Colours
Even if 0°N 0°W isn’t a conventional game, it is an interesting experience. It’s a very unique concept and once you get into it feels rather peaceful, almost therapeutic. Every level is unique, and no experience is the same. When you enter through a door you enter a bizarre new world of colours. You can walk through a dark level that looks like you’re in some kind of fiery hell, then enter a neon coloured space like experience. You never know where you could end up next! A lot of the time you’ll start a level in a recognisable environment, like something resembling a bedroom or an office, but soon after you start walking you’ll lose everything recognisable and fall into a psychedelic trip.
Although the world is beautiful and immersive, you don’t know how long a level will last. Some seem to last only a few minutes, others over an hour. While it can be fascinating, looking through a bizarre world, with no way out made me feel a little anxious! Once I was walking along a platform and fell out of the world into a whole new one. There was one level that was so restrictive, you couldn’t move around, it just felt like you were falling. During another, I started off running, but began to feel like I was being dragged down or slowed down. These were not great sensations! Some levels make you feel peaceful, but others uncomfortable and there is no indication of which will come next.
I do have to commend something that can pull such intense feelings from the user. It takes a strong program to pull actually anxiety from a person like a repressed memory or a social function. It shows what an immersive experience 0°N 0°W can be. But more often then not, I left levels due to anxiety rather than wanting to explore a new world.
World of Control
Occasionally, you can find a door inside a level that’ll take you to a new world, but this was rare to me. If you really do need to leave a level, you press M and select the exit door. Trouble is, there isn’t much explanation regarding the controls. You’re shown a blurry diagram at the beginning on the game, but it’s not clear enough to figure out what to do, so you have to figure it all out yourself once you get started.
My real issue with the game is that on Steam, Colourfication claim that: “There are no barriers or invisible walls to block your curiosity.” Well that’s not exactly true. One time (after falling into oblivion once again), I got trapped into some sort of blank maze. I kept trying to escape from it and ran towards these bright white walls, but they just kept trapping me again. Most of the worlds are large, without walls, were you can just walk endlessly and explore, looking at the beautiful imagery. But not all are like this; some end up being very plain and trap you quite easily.
Travel to 0°N 0°W
0°N 0°W probably isn’t for everybody. I enjoyed some moments of it, but it’s something you have to be in the right mood for. It feels a bit of a marmite experience, that you either get it or you don’t.
As much as I stand tall for team “Games are Art”, I feel like this fits in the category of another media art-form. It felt to me more like an art installation then a game. But if you want to explore something unique and you have some patience you need to get rid of, they by all means give it a go.
Final Verdict: 2.5/5
Available on: PC (Reviewed) ; Publisher: Colorfiction ; Developer: Colorficton ; Players: 1 ; Released: March 1, 2018
Full disclosure: This review is based on a PC review copy of 0°N 0°W given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher.