Developers: Tiny Red Camel
Genre: Puzzle game, casual, children, stunning aesthetics, spiritual experience
Shrug Island – The Meeting is a hand-drawn tale, a game of nature, puzzles and musical adventure for desktops (PC/Mac and Linux) and tablets (iOS/Android). The game is an extension of a larger story world, that was been earlier developed between animation film, and prototyped via freeware on pc and mobile.
The first episode was partly funded by Kickstarter, and is aimed to be ported to tablets. More platforms and further episodes with deeper interactions, interplay between the leads, and more protagonists, is awaiting external funding and partnerships to begin development.
In this episode, you play as two separated friends trying to meet as they reconnect with a living home they’ve been away from for a season. Li and Shri, are the two little Shrugs you switch back and forth to play with. They’ve come home separately, and are struggling to find each other. The Island is the third core character of the game, with its personality and voice. It has been asleep for awhile and the kids will determine what mood it wakes up in. Learning its musical language is key to the making the two friends meet, and realizing there is not only warm fantasy but powerful trouble ahead, on a road of friendship. The Shrug world is an Island that speaks to its people with music, and is once a year covered by the tides. Its the home of the Shrugs, beings deeply connected to nature and shape shifting with it.
Shrug Island is based on the world from student animated film by Alina Constantin, lead designer of the game. “Shrug” was awarded in Annecy in 2009 and made it to children film festivals around the world.
Gameplay is based on environmental puzzles you can solve using the mystical powers of the kids. Shri can literally connect herself to the island and move rocks and plants through musical resonances. Li can enter mystical trance allowing her to see and collect hidden objects. You can freely toggle between the two characters. Your goal is to reunite the two separated kids.
Environmental puzzles are not so easy, it’s hard to uderstand their logic; musical challenges will put a strain on your short-term memory; luckily from time to time a yellow creature will pop up to give you precious suggestions. Puzzles are not so compelling, but they are not the core of the experience.
Game is centered around contemplation of stunning water-color hand-painted scenarios with a cartoon graphic style inspired by cave paintings. There is something of spiritual and ancestral in the overall atmosphere enriched by suggestive and exotic chants. Shrug Island is a relaxing spiritual experience transmitting positive feelings: beauty, love, friendship, empathy, harmony with nature, childhood nostalgia.
Very suitable for children, but also for adults who want to relax staying away from usual shoot&fight games. Similar games: Samorost, Machinarium, Botanicula.
Developers gave me a key code through my Curator page on Steam, but that’s not influenced my analisys.