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  • Writer's pictureBhuvanesh Tekavade

Review - Virginia

Virginia is a 2016 first person mystery adventure game developed by Variable State and published by 505 Games. The game follows an FBI Agent, Anne Tarver as she investigates her first case: the disappearance of a boy in rural Virginia.

The game was nominated for multiple awards with, Global Game Awards, Unity Awards, BAFTA in multiple categories and won a BAFTA for Music and Writers Guild Award 2017 for best writing in Video Game.

(Virginia, 2016, Variable Studio, 505 Games)

When I first say and played Virginia, I found it to be extremely boring, bleh and to some degree hated it because of its lack of interactivity.

Nonetheless, I feel horrible critiquing it for its flaws as per me or lack of interactivity, it is clearly a labor of love. This particular thing can be said about a lot of games, not just indie ones, but Virginia has that particular “something”. The attention to detail in inconspicuous areas, the dedication to the soundtrack integration, and the care with which the menu options are presented all add up to a game that the makers, I believe, genuinely wanted to build. This feels like something that was build by a team passionate about a project and dedicating their efforts into its making.

Just to be clear, this isn't some naive indie game made by two guys in the basement: no game the Prague Symphony Orchestra can afford is. And Virginia's credits last forever (and can't be ignored, because everyone needs to know, obviously. I hate this aspect that it’s unskippable, but I understand the reasoning behind it), so it's actually a pretty big production by independent standards.

(Screenshot from Sony PlayStation 4, Virginia, 2016)

Although, it feels pulsing, which makes it a little harder to criticize harshly. And it's beautiful in itself (I liked its cartoon style it follows), the soundtrack is certainly better, it's easy to add points to the review score, and the quantity and quality of the first-person animation which was rarely seen in indie games back at its time. It's one of the things you can't see in indie games-it's amazing.

With all the pleasantries out of the way, let me explain why I think it’s boring or bleh in my perspective:

The game is made with a vision and a story in mind to tell but my issues it for me the story is not that captivating. It ends up making me feel like a game that is restricting me from anything and everything. It’s as if I am being controlled. But I thought it was all an echo of the quirky presentation, the unique stylization, and Kojima's presumptuous but somehow surprising approach.

In the very initial days of my college starting, my professor had asked me, “What is a game to you?” To which I though a lot and landed on, “Any experience that can be turned into a (2 – 3hour) movie without it losing any single aspect of from its core is NOT a game.” I know that this definition does not say what games are to me and is a very broad statement for what I feel for games and so Virginia is one of the only games that falls into my definition.

Virginia could easily be a movie, and nothing is lost. Given the quantity and quality of its stories, it wouldn't be more than a ten-minute Vimeo from someone who loved Lynch but didn't understand it - but it would still be better than the same clunky 90 minutes of walking slowly through the streets. empty hallway.


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