Over the last two years, some of the best gaming experiences we have enjoyed at GIMMGP Headquarters were on our iPad. This is in no small part thanks to the wonderful duo at Simogo and their games Year Walk and Device 6. These two titles made incredible use of mobile technology to create unique gameplay moments which have lingered in our collective consciousness since the time of first play. It is our love of these two games that makes Simogo’s latest offering such a disappointment in comparison.
The world within The Sailor’s Dream is lovely, but mostly useless for the actual gameplay. You can explore this ocean bound world, play with its many baubles and trinkets, but it is ultimately scheduled phone checking that unlocks the bulk of content from the game.
Unlike Simogo’s previous works, the interaction with the world outside of The Sailor’s Dream doesn’t enhance the game- it is the game. The exploration within is the fluff on top of an experience that is akin to the worst of social media based games: regularly checking your phone to see what content the game has doled out according to the current time in our world.
Which is a shame, because the aesthetic of The Sailor’s Dream is delightful and haunting. The sounds of this aquatic world are fantastic; ambient seaside noises complement a wonderful soundtrack. Each location has a sense of a childhood home revisited, a lived-in world that is no longer inviting. There is a nostalgia that isn’t quite yours, where a mild foreboding persists.
But most of this world’s secrets are not hidden in the undertone of old letters or the shattered frame of a picture. They exist in our world of overly-connected technology. It takes the obsessive regiment of pawing at your smartphone every hour and once-per-day to unlock the true story. And like the already constant hum and vibration of our mobile devices, this regular check-in with the outside world only serves to break the player’s immersion from the dream.