Remember reading the Choose Your Own Adventure books? I always seemed to pick precisely the worst possible choice at every turn, though they frequently had the most entertaining outcomes. So I imagine that Static Lagoon is probably the same kind of fun.
The six-chapter game takes players from their bedroom to a cab, “to a nightclub in the middle of the sky.” Throughout each chapter, windows of opportunity arrive for a short time. The player may take the opportunity presented or ignore it entirely. The trick is selecting the correct opportunity – only one will allow the player to continue, while the others are all red herrings that force the player back one chapter. Take a risk, or stagnate and remain trapped!
“The scenes in Static Lagoon focus on how the daily distractions of life contribute to escapism in a time when the abundance of choice can be emotionally overwhelming,” says solo developer Prashast Thapan. “The visual language is inspired by Berthold Brecht’s theatrical technique of breaking the fourth wall. Everything is simplified to a ridiculous extent to draw attention to the dialogue between objects and space.”
Apart from its own unique content, what makes Static Lagoon particularly noteworthy is how it’s played. The game is Oculus compatible and played using the RestBox – “the world’s first cushioned entertainment system.” RestBox consists of a simple seat cushion which plugs into the USB port of a computer. There are no controllers; players will not use their hands at all. The entire gameplay involves sitting, standing, and looking. The opportunities for change come in the form of commands to stand; stand up at the right moment to proceed, or at the wrong moment to be pushed back.
The game was Thapan’s senior thesis in Graphic Design at the Rhode Island School of Design, and was released at Babycastles Gallery New York on December 20 and 21, 2014. Because the RestBox gaming mechanism is not widely known as yet, the home version can be played using the mouse and space bar. The game is free to play and can be downloaded from the official website, GameJolt, or itch.io.
Static Lagoon can be played with Windows, Mac, and Linux, and while it is compatible with Oculus, the Rift isn’t required; there are non-Oculus versions for download as well. Thapan reports that he plans to release more games for RestBox, such as physical fitness games. Keep up with his future projects by following him on Twitter.