We are constantly exploring new things as humans. The far reaches of space, quantum physics, the meaning of life and how we got here. We have explored most of the Earth, with just the ocean still holding some secrets. But what about the human mind? Neuroscientists and psychologists have made ground-breaking new research in the last few years, able to expand upon what we know about how the brain works.
The Gap is a game set in the future, but it also examines the possibilities of the human mind, alternate realities, and the multiverse. It’s also a game about being human and it’s splendid.
You play the role of Joshua Hayes who lives in the future – around thirty years away. When we see him in that time he is in his apartment, which is trashed. Food debris is everywhere and it looks like he is having a bad time. On the wall is a diagram, post-it notes, strings attached all with a centre note saying THE CURE. What happens then is you go into Joshua’s memories and different timelines to try and piece together what has happened and how he ended up like this.
The writing, concept and mixing of time zones and realities in The Gap is brilliant. It’s a very clever game that combines real-world science with some theory and fantasy in a brilliantly unique way. The visual storytelling is superb, ensuring that the world comes alive and the relationships believable. My only criticism is that at times the dialogue can feel slightly off and a bit forced. But that only happens a few times throughout.
The gameplay is quite hard to describe but playing it feels intuitive and simple to work out. The Gap is a puzzle game at heart and your task is to collect clues and move along to the new timeline or memory. It’s not linear at all and you might find yourself going backwards and forwards quite a bit. It reminds a little of the FMV game Immortality, even though it’s a very different premise and setup.
So how it works is that you go around each area examining objects, computers, photographs, or even food. Some will trigger conversations, snippets of information about that timeline. Others will warp you to another timeline or reality. You can then go there and travel back or you examine items and move on to somewhere else. Some places need you to do things in a certain order to complete the memory, whilst others will need you to find clues from other periods. For example, in one memory you are picking up a rabbit for your daughter, but you don’t know which one to pick. Later on, you find a Christmas wish list that describes her perfect rabbit. You know it’s then time to head back and pick the right bunny; the memory complete.
This is a compelling gameplay mechanic that never grows old. There are other puzzles to solve in The Gap too, like passwords to tablets, phones or computers to try to work out. You even have to do a bit of cooking later on and sit an exam. Sometimes the non-linear nature and lack of hand-holding can make you feel a bit lost, but I quite enjoyed that.
The visual design is very good with a nice mix of clean design with more dream logic effects. The way it zooms in and out of memories visually is always rewarding, as are the ghost-like folk. A special mention goes to the colourful sections in an airport and music concert. There is a wonderful soundtrack included in The Gap too, and the voice-over work is solid and well played out even with some forced dialogue sections.
The Gap is a lovely, thoughtful game that has a fascinating story. Travelling through various memories and timelines is brilliant and never feels dull. Yes there are moments when you might feel lost with nowhere to go and no clue as to what to do next, but that’s okay – just breathe and retrace your steps.
The Gap is a game that I loved and I think you might do too.