I’ll admit. Being used to the kinds of video game and interactive “experiments” I’ve seen come out of visual arts scenes during my time in and around art schools within the past decade, it can be easy for me to be dismissive of the genre of “games” that Colorfiction’s 0°N 0°W can fall into. And I almost did dismiss it.
But, once given a chance, the genuine aspects of 0°N 0°W became immediately apparent, and were a welcome surprise.
Pretty things can be pleasant to look at, and visual pleasantries without perceived substance are not something that should be frowned upon, as they can exist within their own realms. This age we are in is tied to an inane idea of “meaning”. This meaning is often of a forced nature, and 0°N 0°W does its best to not fall in that.
What I mean by that is that 0°N 0°W comes off as simultaneously experimental and very intentional and perhaps also very meaningful to its creators. I can’t dig meaning into the thought process behind what you see in 0°N 0°W exactly, but I’d hope that the folks at Colorfiction were at the very least trying to evoke emotion with an array of dazzling “scapes”.
There’s no new ground to cover in what you see visually, we’re all used to the kind of imagery that you see in 0°N 0°W, harking to the projected backdrop of every band that heard Slowdive’s Souvlaki or Boards of Canada’s Geogaddi, and decided to form a band. But, I don’t mean this negatively! There are a time and place for such an ambiance, and it warms your heart seeing those influences in new places, at least when done in an agreeable way.
Similarly, listening to the sounds and experiencing the sights in 0°N 0°W makes me think of some of my favorite albums and songs from my favorite bands at times, from the Eno and Byrne (and Fripp) composed looping effects in My Life in the Bush of Ghosts and (No Pussyfooting), respectively, to the dreamy, slow, calming but nervous and psychedelic sounds in Spacemen 3’s “Big City”, and all of that stacked on top of the works of Erik Satie.
The game’s score itself draws from traditional and contemporary music, so it all makes sense that way, ultimately creating a soundscape that goes well with what you see.
Visually, 0°N 0°W isn’t as “random” as it might appear at first glance. What starts as a cross-country trip to get away from the concrete anxieties of modern living turns into a trek through the negative spaces of existing locales. You teleport through semblances of recognizable places, like cabins in mountains and hills, and expensive apartments in modern cities, but these repeating places have been reduced to their very outlines, or rather, they’re like dark matter/other-world versions of things we are all used to seeing.
Like ghosts of familiar places you might have seen many times, or like errors in 3D-mapped geography taking kind-of actual, physical forms in space, terra-forming into, for lack of a better word, reality.
Walking through doors, it can become a game of curiosity. (And, by that, I do mean actual doors, as walking through floating and or hidden doorways is one of the ones you can enter the different locations in the game — and is probably one of the few elements of the game’s design I’m not fond of).
It’s to see what lies behind each door, where you’ll end up next, and what you’ll see there- just like a true vacation, though this one might be one away from your existence rather than your just your home.
0°N 0°W in no way is anything more than what it is, which is a modest bedroom art piece. Again, I don’t mean that negatively! There is a level of personal craftsmanship that shines through; more like looking at a series of paintings than playing a game, and in the genre of such a thing, it shines as a good example.
As I said before, at the very least, there’s nothing wrong with shapes, colors, and sights in general evoking emotion of any kind without a grander purpose beyond that. I’m glad that such a game with such an experience could be made by someone out there, and on a personal level, as a dabbler in visuals and sound, it’s very much a good viewing.
Walking through 0°N 0°W is like a quiet drive through a quiet place, and while you’re there, it can be a good place to be.