Welcome to This Is Not A Review. In these articles we discuss general impressions, ideas and thoughts on any given game, but as the title implies, it’s not a review. Instead, it’s an exercise in offering a quick recommendation (or dismissal) after spending enough time to grasp the ideas and gameplay of a thing without necessarily playing it from A to Z.
The subject of this installment: The Blueness of a Wound, developed and published by ZAPERART.
It’s easy to fall in love with a game when it sports a gorgeous, unique art style. The aesthetic of The Blueness of a Wound — a tiny-budget point-and-click adventure — almost completely legitimizes its existence with a wonderful, hand-drawn version of the Blue Mountains in Australia. I started my playthrough with great appreciation of its visual design.
The storyline, simple but intriguing, revolves around searching for the main character’s missing sister. True to point-and-click storytelling nature, Blueness features several scenes allowing the player to click on things like ‘missing’ posters and NPCs in an attempt to learn more about her whereabouts.
Dialogue options are also a thing, and at times, Blueness approaches it with creativity. One example is when the words ‘wake up’ flow across the screen after a heavy nightmare sequence. Likewise, the characters have their own interesting attitudes and apart from the disappearance, Blueness is cloaked in supernatural mysteries which are a great fit for the subtle, minimalistic drawings of landscapes, mansions, and town buildings on display.
All of these things are strengths of Blueness, but I’m afraid they’re not enough to carry the experience overall.
In a bizarre move, Blueness is programmed as a slideshow. What I mean by this is that to load progress when coming back to the game, the player has to return to the ‘slide’ last visited. If the player does not opt for this, the save file is lost forever.
Misunderstanding this unconventional save structure caused me to lose progress on three separate occasions. I understand that ZAPERART is a small studio, but something as rudimentary as a proper save system should be a given. Adding to this irritation, there are no options to optimize the game experience in any way whatsoever.
Once I finally managed to finish a playthrough despite the technical setbacks, I saw the plot take an unfortunate structural turn. The mystery which Blueness is cloaked in from the very start begins negatively influencing gameplay, and choices essentially become supernatural decisions described on tarot cards that result in either a game over or progress. It goes from narrative adventure to something that feels like it relies on pure chance.
In the end, I would only recommend The Blueness of a Wound to players with a great appreciation of Australian scenery, stunning hand-drawn animation or indie titles — and for those who opt in, definitely play through in one sitting to avoid the hassles of the save system altogether.