Tuesday, 26 April 2016 00:00

Opus: The Day We Found Earth Review

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Lately, I’ve been feeling pretty worn out. Mired in life’s plans, ambitions, and the everyday routine, I was completely exhausted when I sat down to play Opus: The Day We Found Earth. Having only gotten about four hours sleep each night consistently for the past few months, the idea of finally going to bed early for once instead of staying up to be productive was extremely tempting…but there was something about Opus that drew me to it, like a moth to a porch light, beckoning me to play the game. I felt as if I had no choice – it was almost calling me by name. I had to play Opus, no matter how much sleep I sacrificed.

As I sit down to collect my thoughts on this title, I realize that I’m completely speechless.

Sure, I can tell you about the basic premise - that you take on the role of Emeth, an adorable little robot with the mental capacity of a toddler who adores Doctor Lisa, his would-be mother figure. I can explain that he’s on a mission to find the mythical planet Earth, the legendary former home of humanity, utilizing an enormous telescope situated in the depths of space. I can elaborate further, stating that the reason why he’s searching for Earth is because humanity, some 14,000 years into the future, has a dwindling, limited gene pool and will go extinct unless mankind’s first home is found. But the beauty of the game is not found in words, but feelings instead.

There is a term in the Japanese language that does not exist in our own that perfectly sums up the feeling I had throughout Opus: Yuugen, or the profound, mysterious sense of beauty in the universe…and the sad beauty of human suffering. I played a small, insignificant robot lost amongst the stars in the vastness of the cosmos, anxious to find Earth in order to keep a promise to Lisa – a promise to never give up searching for her ancestral home. Emeth’s childlike innocence was hard to bear when Lisa seemingly disappeared; even though, as the player, you knew she had probably died long ago, he kept hoping she would be in the next room, the next room, the next room. His frantic search for Lisa, while trying to rediscover Earth to fulfill her mission, made it all the more heartbreaking as he made it to the ship's last room with no Lisa in sight. Once he finally realized that Lisa was no longer onboard, leaving him truly and utterly alone, he still decided he would never give up on his promise. Even as the telescope lost power…even as he began to shut down…even as the spacecraft began its slow descent into the star LISA-10 – the star he clung to for comfort, his last little piece of his beloved Doctor – he never gave up hope that he would find Lisa’s home. Facing certain, white-hot, fiery death in the grasp of LISA-10’s gravity, Emeth kept persisting until, finally, he found Earth, narrowly avoiding being incinerated as the ship automatically plotted course to the life-giving planet.

The game’s strength is in its simplicity.

The ability to express powerful feelings through charmingly quaint character art and clean, uplifting, ambient music is not one many titles have. This simplistic game conveyed complex themes without the use of heavy CGI or award-winning scores. Instead, the insignificance in the art and music compounded the message the game shared with players – that sometimes your purpose in life may not be fully understood, and it may seem meaningless to you, but to live without purpose is to not live at all.

Despite all my accolades for this game, I have one big complaint – it was too short. I played through in about 30 minutes, hungry for more. That is literally my only complaint – it is still worth the purchase.

Finding a game so powerful while simultaneously being so unassuming is like searching for Earth amongst the trillions upon trillions of stars. This has been one of the hardest reviews for me to write because I did not react to Opus with a train of thought but a string of emotions. I resonated with it on a spiritual level. All my trials and tribulations I’ve experienced over the years that have lead me to this point in time are lost in the cold darkness of the universe, meaningless and insignificant. Yet it is in that void that I seek a greater purpose – a calling. A goal. A reason to go on. Like Emeth, pressing onwards into the boundless depths of the cosmos, so too must we all continue down life’s path into the unknown. It is the acceptance of this journey that gives one a sense of peace and tranquility with a goal in mind and hope in our hearts.


The Verdict

Today, I felt lighter. I wasn’t as exhausted, despite getting the usual four hours rest. I went to work happier, more carefree and relaxed . It’s odd to say it, but this game reminded me that my stresses and problems really aren’t that deep when stacked up against the enormity of space. It reminded me to take a step back and breathe every once in a while. It reminded me that my goals and ambitions, although large and frightening, were worthy and served great purpose. And it reminded me to take pleasure in the simple beauty of life, as it is fleeting, and to live in the moment the universe bestowed upon us.

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Heather Johnson

Heather has been playing video games ever since she can remember. Starting off as a PC gamer at age 2 with edutainment games and progressing to the NES and beyond, she has always had a love for everything gaming, PC and console. She’s carried a hand-held console in her back pocket (now purse) since the 3rd grade and is probably the only person in her mid-twenties that still enjoys street-passing. She lives in Los Angeles and currently works for Bandai in the marketing department – she doesn’t make toys, she just makes toys look good. Right now she is actively avoiding planning her upcoming wedding by playing Skyrim. Other hobbies include trying to go to the gym, watching documentaries, sleeping, and tormenting (see: showering with affection) her beloved Maine Coon, King Henry VIII. Favorite games include FFX, Katamari Damacy, Saints Row IV, Skyrim, Catherine, and Phoenix Wright. She has her phone surgically attached to her hand and is happy to help whenever possible.