If you’ve never felt empathy for a floating splinter nor shared in the sadness of a lonely ice floe in the grips of existential dread… then you may surprise yourself when you play this game. The absurd comedy of a rock who has lost his hat or a goat that tumbles end-over-end may be interrupted by moments of psychedelic clarity that helps you understand the powerful way in which everything is connected to everything else. You may find yourself enveloped by the almost overwhelming feeling that the universe created “little ol’ you” that you might behold not only you and your problems, but all things; that you are both a witness and a creator of the entire eternal universe. Everything has some weight.
Everything, the award-winning brainchild of artist David O’Reilly, is as much a long-form guided meditation as it is a videogame. It is a reflective journey through a sandbox of “things” where you can become the things, the sandbox, the sand, and everything else along the way. It’s simultaneously sarcastic and sacred; heartwarming and heavy. If Alan Watts were alive to see this game, he might ask if you play Everything or if Everything plays you. In fact, if you take your hands off the controls for long enough, the game will play all by itself… just one of the many ways it blurs the line between doing and being.
“What I am really saying is that you don’t need to do anything, because if you see yourself in the correct way, you are all as much an extraordinary phenomenon of nature as trees, clouds, the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire, the arrangement of the stars, and the form of a galaxy. You are all just like that, and there is nothing wrong with you at all.” – Alan Watts
On the game’s website, www.everything-game.com, the simulation aspect of the game is explained as follows:
Everything is a simulation of reality as a phenomenon of interdependent systems. There are thousands of things that perceive, think and interact differently while being driven by the same underlying rules. All things are aware of themselves, each other and their environment, and simulate with or without player interaction.
In addition to Everything giving us these “things” to fiddle with, it also beautifully interweaves poignant philosophical observations about nature, connectedness, scale, the meaning of things, and a lot more throughout the game. Thought bubbles that come from various objects along with beautifully timed audio snippets from Alan Watts serve to “narrate” the game. This modern implementation of the latter, audio recorded 50 or so years ago of lectures by philosopher Alan Watts (learn more here), is at times stunningly prurient. Perhaps, for the sake of wordsmithing, “salient” might be a better word when it comes to this game both in its commonly used meaning, “germane,” and also its seldomly used meaning: “(of an animal) standing on its hind legs with the forepaws raised.” Play the game. You’ll understand.
By cleverly placing soundbites of Alan Watts’ lectures at pivotal moments between new discoveries and observations in the gameplay, Everything is able to powerfully illustrate the inseparability of all things.
The relationship between the environment and the organism is transactional. The environment grows the organism, and in turn the organism creates the environment. The organism turns the sun into light, but it requires there be an environment containing a sun for there to be an organism at all. And the answer to it simply is they’re all one process. It isn’t that organisms by chance came into the world. This world is the sort of environment which grows organisms. It was that way from the beginning. – Alan Watts
In Everything there is a whole lot to do, and yet, seemingly very little to accomplish. If you get lost in the game, then you’re probably playing it right. If you’re the type of gamer who needs a score and you constantly want to beat your best time, this game will encourage you to relax a bit and be present with the playing, rather than worried about the winning (and of course, if you play it on Steam, you’ll be treated to occasional accomplishments, as well as the familiar trading cards). After all, the main game play is a combination of roaming and metamorphosis. Oh yeah… And dancing. There is lots of dancing to be had. Things meet, they sing to each other, they join forces, they wander, and they dance a lot.
Life is not learning to find the destination and getting there as quickly as you can. It is learning to dance every day along the way. – Alan Watts
Although the game may technically be a 3rd person RPG type game, don’t expect it to fit that mold (or any mold) neatly. Maybe we should refer back to the game’s website for a more concise definition of exactly who/what your character is:
Things are the basic unit of Everything, and the entirety of the game is designed to be playable. Levels can be characters and vice versa. The game’s universe is designed to let you travel freely in any direction, and intuitively find things when and where you’d expect them to be. Continued exploration will lead you to unseen environments, containing new sights, sounds, things, thoughts and abilities.
But just because you’re a cow doesn’t mean you have to merely graze along. Just because you’re a photon doesn’t mean you can’t slow down, stop, and smell the roses. Just because you’re a ball of gas doesn’t mean you can’t contemplate the recursive nature of infinity.
There is plenty for every gamer to love in this game, and there’s no shortage of interesting gameplay, as the game is technically infinite. If you still have reservations about picking up a copy for PS4, Apple, PC, or Linux, watch this beautiful gameplay short film and see what you think:
If you’re still not sure whether you want to play this game, then I don’t think there’s much else I can say to convince you that Everything is well worth the time you put into it. It may just be the type of game you have to play to understand. Sometimes words fail in describing such an incredible gem of a game. I’ll just leave this next quote here for no particular reason:
Only words and conventions can isolate us from the entirely undefinable something which is everything. – Alan Watts
Top 5 Points
- Gameplay is infinite.
- Game can play itself and still be enjoyable.
- Makes you think. Deeply philosophical
- Narrated by Alan Watts.
- Unlike any other game out there.
Creation Year & Location
Los Angeles, California