Has anyone else played through Virginia, a recently released cinematic walking simulator on PC, PS4, and Xbox One?
It borrows aspects from other games in the genre such as Firewatch, but is in some respects takes the opposite approach to story telling. While Firewatch told its story through conversations and the environment, Virginia features no dialogue and very little in the way of exploration or interaction. If you don’t like the absence of gameplay in walking simulators, stay well away from Virginia, because it’s very linear. It’s not so much as game as a movie with some small amounts of interaction thrown in (usually just one object that you can inspect) to make you feel like you’re experiencing the story from the protagonist’s point of view. Sometimes the game will jump between scenes as you’re walking along, which can be disorienting, but also makes the experience more concise.
What I liked about Virginia was that the absence of dialogue made other story telling features more prominent, particularly the facial animations of the characters (something which other indie games tend to lack). There’s a decent amount of emotion portrayed just in the way characters respond visually when something happens. The soundtrack is top quality too, adding to the cinematic feel that Virginia is going for.
Provided you know what you’re getting into, Virginia gets my recommendation, and at around two hours long it’s not a huge time sink if you don’t enjoy the experience. It will be interesting to see what, if any, of the story telling approaches are adopted in future interactive stories. The developers acknowledge that Thirty Flights of Loving was an inspiration, but unlike that game Virginia’s story feels properly fleshed out, with a proper beginning, middle, and end.