GDC Hands-On Preview – Pry

It’s very difficult to talk properly about Pry. Or, more accurately, to describe it in a way that makes sense.

It is part movie, part novella, part video game. A strange, disturbing amalgam of media, stitched together to somehow make a coherent narrative. And even as it mixes everything together, it seems to work so well. As the developers at Tender Claws describe it, Pry “is a book without borders.” It simultaneously embraces and eschews conventions from all the forms of media it blends together. Even the borders it establishes within itself are frequently ripped apart.

PRY screenshotPry progresses slowly, and in part, how the player wants it to. Pinch the screen one way, and the character opens his eyes. Pinch the other way, and the game opens up his subconscious, thoughts and images boiling away in flashes behind the eyes and further, behind the words. One pinch to reality, one pinch to an inner-self. As the game progresses, and of course as protagonist James’ sight disappears, the pinches warp their own purposes. Words begin to unfold into more words, or tear apart to reveal more video.

When the character opens his eyes, video plays of whatever he is seeing at this point in the story. Soon, more cinematic pieces play, and the symbology and ensuing braille readings imply that James is losing his sight. In the first chapter, the player can figure out fairly easily that James is a demolition expert, and through his subconscious and other clues, it is learned that James recently returned from the Gulf War.

Beyond this, it can only spoil the story to explain it (further, I have yet to experience much of the story). In my time with the game, I finished the first chapter, which, depending on how long one spends musing, can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 30 minutes (at least by my estimate). It’s a comfortable length, and I inadvertently rushed through a couple bits without remembering I could pinch to see James’ subconscious, focused as I was on seeing more of the video. Considering how thoroughly I enjoy narrative-driven games, I was mildly horror-stricken with myself, but luckily, I noticed that I could replay chapters at will.

PRY Prologue imageAs it could be guessed, Pry is a game to be enjoyed at one’s leisure, as a book would be. It is not an MMO or a mobile game, which attempts to demand the player’s attention, but a story with so many elements worked in as to grab your attention in its uniqueness. It’s the kind of story that someone can spend hours exploring, and I’m looking forward to getting to do so soon.

PRY is available only on the iOS app store, with no current mention about porting to Android tablets (likely because of the difficulty of building the game  for so many screen sizes). You can learn more about the game from its website, and about the developers from their sitePRY is $2.99 USD, and you can purchase it here or through the App Store on your iOS device.

A nerd of elephantine proportions (both figuratively and literally), Connor also writes for Pxlbyte, and has recently come to realize that he is, in actuality, really bad at video games. So he writes about them instead.