There’s a category at The Game Awards called Games For Impact. It’s an award for thought provoking games that tackle some real world issues, with Celeste and Gris being among its previous winners. The Wreck is one such game that shines a light on some heavy themes.
The Wreck that life can be
Developed by French team The Pixel Hunt, the 3D visual novel is available on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch and PC.
Players take on the role of failed screenwriter Junon (aka Jun) as she is navigating one of the most pivotal days in her life. Piecing together how you got to this point by interactions with other characters and revisiting events from your past, the story plays out as you explore the history of these characters.
You are put inside the mind of the main character to experience what life is like in their shoes and feel the weight of moments that have shaped the path you are currently experiencing in your life. Using the L2 and R2 buttons players can fast forward and rewind through the memories to uncover the details of the flashbacks.
A really novel idea is when beginning the game players are essentially creating their own screenplay with the dialogue choices they make. Pause the game or exit and return and you are presented with your work in progress as a text depiction of the most recent scene you have played. This a helpful little refresher if you do not complete the story in one go.
Graphics & Audio
Graphically The Wreck isn’t pushing the envelope by any stretch. It is however its clever use of visuals as a complement to the story that is so well done. One scene in particular that takes place in an art gallery was a standout.
There is a clear love and inspiration from movies throughout with nods and references to the big screen. Intentional or not, one of my favourite nods is the use of Wiggletype text for Jun’s inner monologue. This typography was originally created by Smith & Lee Design for Jason Reitman’s indie hit movie Juno. It works very well here to differentiate thoughts from actual dialogue.
On the audio side, a real highlight is the performance of Astrid, played by Jaynelia Coadou. She stole the show with some of the most memorable scenes in the game. A real talent that we will no doubt be hearing from again in the future.
There are around 3-4 hours of storytelling here. I wouldn’t see this as a game that would be played fully multiple times as its impact is in that first experience.
For trophy hunters, the game has 13 trophies – 1 bronze, 11 gold and platinum. By replaying the end of my first playthrough I managed to get all but one of the trophies needed, so it’s probably possible to grab them all in one sitting.
We are all of us complex vessels of existence made up of a collection of our life experiences. This game explores some heavy topics, such that show even in the darkest most troubling times there can be moments of levity and joy. Never judge a book by its cover.
Its approach and delivery of its storytelling feel fresh and unique. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of my all time favourite movies and this is the video game equivalent of that Charlie Kaufman masterpiece.
I hope come December that the team at The Pixel Hunt will be on stage to accept an award for this fantastic piece of work, but for now, The Wreck takes home the Thumb Culture Platinum Award.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.