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Review

Written by Jade Swann | Edited by John Gerritzen

Pattern is a relaxing walking simulator published by Ice Water Games and developed by Galen Drew, Michael Bell, and Badru. In it, you explore procedurally generated worlds, discovering a new environment every time you wake up.

ATMOSPHERE

Each time you rest your weary head, you awake to a new world. From vast, snow-blanketed forests to sandy deserts full of broken pillars, there is something new to see each time you open your eyes. The environments are beautifully rendered with unique day and night cycles – the night cycle and its sky full of glittering stars is particularly stunning to gaze at – and provides plenty of space to roam around and explore.

Each new world is also accompanied by a change in soundtrack. The soundtrack is a pleasant addition to listen to and helps to enhance the atmosphere as you walk around and take in your surroundings. However, while the soundtrack is typically calming, there are a few times when it veers more toward eerie or haunting, which can slightly disrupt the relaxing atmosphere.

Objective

To advance to the next world, you’ll need to find a campfire to rest at, indicated by the billowing plume of smoke in the sky. After you progress through a couple of the environments, glowing blue orbs will start to appear. These orbs offer a glimpse into the inner thoughts of the developer and their thought process as they designed the game itself.

The narrative offers an interesting insight into the game design process and I did enjoy reading about it. However, these orbs serve as the only objects you can interact with, and finding them is really the only form of an objective within the title. You can climb up cliffs and enter abandoned structures, but can’t interact with any of the objects. There are crumbling towers for you to find, but nothing inside to click on or read about. There are broken pillars and giant apples and strange, spiked rocks, yet you cannot investigate any of these things; you can only look and observe.

Instead, you’re left to wonder what each world and the things found throughout it mean. Are the apples that fall off trees and expand as soon as they hit the ground a symbol for ideas coming to fruition? Are the broken, dilapidated structures a symbol for ideas abandoned and left to ruin? It’s up to you to decide.

The lack of an objective allows you to explore the worlds at your own pace with no need to rush. Though this does keep the gameplay relaxing, I found myself getting bored after a dozen or so worlds. You can find all of the orbs in around an hour and while you can continue to explore after they are found, I quickly felt like I had seen most of what the worlds had to offer, especially given the fact that you cannot interact with much of the environment.

How much gameplay you’ll get out of this title depends on how much you enjoy looking at your surroundings. For me personally, my intrigue lasted as long as the narrative, and an hour of gameplay was simply not worth the asking price.

5

The Verdict: Fair

Pattern is a beautifully atmospheric walking simulator that has an interesting core narrative and is a relaxing way to pass the time. If you like coming up with your own theories, exploring aimlessly, and analyzing small details, this title will suit you just fine. But, if you prefer more concrete explanations, being able to interact with the environment, or favor objectives over directionless exploration, there is not much for you here.

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