Since the release of Gone Home, a number of exploration games have focused their efforts on the emotional narrative behind a game, rather than having the gamer simply finding new items or solving puzzles. This is the case of a•part•ment, a finalist at IGF 2015, and in development by former students of the University of Southern California, now making up the studio known as The Elsewhere Company.
a•part•ment is a first-person exploration game featuring Nick, who has to return to the apartment where he lived with his girlfriend Madison, who left him after being together for four years. The player controls Nick as he goes through their former home, remembering moments of their relationship with every room and object, while he struggles to deal with the breakup. These thoughts are presented as floating text and are the main narrative element of the game. As the developers explain, reading this text is central to the game and its emotional impact.
Alongside Nick’s story, players will be able to explore their neighbors’ apartments and learn about their own stories and struggles. Jim, who had to move across the country because of his dream job and is now living by himself in a place full of strangers; Rose, who is becoming a famous novelist and has to learn how to manage her job and life with a husband; May, an elderly woman who just lost the love of her life, with whom she was married for 60 years; and Anne, a young girl who is learning how to be closer to her father after her parents got divorced.
A Kickstarter campaign was recently launched to fund the development and release of a•part•ment. The developers are asking for $20,000 by May 28th to launch the game in Spring 2016 for PC, Mac, and Linux on Steam, DRM-free, and they have raised roughly $6,650 at the time of writing. A free demo showing the beginning of Nick’s story is available on the game’s official page, and some funding options grant access to an extended demo that also includes the beginning of his neighbors’ plot. Further information can also be found on the game’s official website or the Kickstarter page.