Life is short when you’re a housefly trying to complete your wish list | Games

YYou are probably familiar with the concept of a bucket list: a collection of goals, dreams, and aspirations that you would like to achieve during your lifetime. But what if you only had a handful of hours to fit it all together? What would a housefly’s wish list look like?

This is the absurd, almost Cronenbergian premise of the new game by Michael Frei and Raphaël Muñoz, Time Flies. “The fly is so insignificant, so annoying,” says Frei. “To try to find meaning with something so small in this world, there is poetry in that.”

Slated for a 2023 release on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, and PC, the game stood out at this summer’s indie-focused Developers Day showcase with its slightly macabre humor and striking monochrome visuals. pixel art Time Flies is based on the open world design principle of allowing the player to complete tasks in any order they wish. However, as befits the limited existence of a house fly, there is no untouched desert to explore or shimmering horizon to search towards, just an ordinary house filled with everyday objects and a giant. sleeping man.

Development began in July 2021, when the Covid-19 lockdowns were still significant. The feeling of “being trapped in a house” certainly influenced the game, says Frei, as did the preoccupation with death. At the start of each game, the player must select their location, which then determines how long they have to complete the wish list. Selecting the UK, for example, gives players 81.4 seconds, because the WHO estimates the average (human) life expectancy there to be 81.4 years.

The game is not a heavy meditation on the transience of existence. After all, you are a housefly trying to experience joy. The wish list is filled with tasks like “learn an instrument”, “get rich”, “look great” and “go on tour”. Each of these tasks takes the form of a delightfully interactive visual gag: going on tour involves landing on a turntable, flipping the switch, and giddily riding vinyl as old music blasts out of the speakers. Looking good makes you guide the fly behind a pair of reading glasses and strut like a runway model.

Spanning both traditional video games and animation, Frei’s earlier work is imbued with a similar visual inventiveness. 2019’s Kids filled the screen with hundreds of beautifully animated characters on screen, which the player directed in unison. While the protagonist is little more than a single black pixel in Time Flies, he’s still a joy to control, evoking the paper planes from Frei’s beloved 1994 Macintosh classic, Glider. When he was 10 years old, Frei broke the floppy disk of that game in half, not because he hated it but because he loved it so much. “I felt frustrated for being so committed. Nothing else in life gave me joy,” he says. “Of course I immediately regretted breaking the floppy disk.”

There’s a good chance that youngsters and adults alike will be drawn to Time Flies. With the clock ticking in the upper left corner, it’s as much about strategy (the best order to complete the wish list within the allotted time) as it is about big existential questions. The beauty of the game is that it is guided by the simplest, most universal and life-affirming principles: “Make the most of the time you have.”

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