Simpler Times review — A vibe of a game

I’ve been going a million miles an hour since Summer Game Fest. As much as I love writing about video games, this hobby can get the best of me at times. Tired as I might be, a game called Simpler Times seemed like a good end to my large stack of reviews and previews. After playing it, I don’t know that you’d call it much of a video game, but that’s not a bad thing.

Simpler Times - First 33 minutes of gameplay on PC

Simpler Times is a vibe. There’s a story being told in the background, as you play as Tania, a girl packing up for college. You get hints at her story along the way, learning the things she likes, different hobbies, and the loss of her mother. In the vein of games like Gone Home or The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, the story comes to you as you go, rather than you going to it. Listen as you do things, because it’s easy to miss something if you don’t.

A cool choice developer Stoneskip made is using the same room throughout Tania’s packing journey, just moving a few things around to change it up. Each version of the room you’re in is unlocked by the record player on your right. Just like music does for many of us, these vinyls unlock memories for Tania of eras past, literally bringing her back to the moment she built a birdhouse, or finding a constellation through her telescope.

To engage, there are little puzzles you’ll do in each section. Finishing these aren’t that tough, although a few of them can be frustrating due to obtuse directions. I’d argue they are tasks for the sake of giving you something to do, even if they resemble art compared to other video games. In the end, it’s ultimately the story of packing up your things and the memories that come with it, so the mechanics aren’t going to be that complex. It’s a part of what’s going on, but if you only focus on trying to “beat” this game, you won’t get much out of it.

That’s because you don’t need to rush your way through Simpler Times. The best way to play is to sit back and appreciate each moment as it comes along. We’ve all been at these points of our lives and looked back via triggers, like a toy that reminds us of something we did, or a drawing that recalls a memory. Tania speaks occasionally, and in the dialogue she reminisces on her experiences. Living through her during the game can bring a smile to your face, as it did with mine.

Savoring your time with Simpler Times is easy with its visual style and vibrant soundtrack. Conveying the vibe Simpler Times is going for is expertly done with its soft graphical approach, almost seemingly painted there at times. It’s not going for realism, and the mellow stylings work for it. Similarly, the lo-fi music is perfect at projecting the chill nature of Simpler Times, allowing you to be transported into Tania’s world. It’s the kind of soundtrack people listen to on YouTube for hours, and given you can buy it on vinyl, it’s one you might want to pick up.

I don’t think this game needs to be much more than it is. I’ve just spent an incredulous amount of time ripping my way through project after project. We need more art like Simpler Times as opposed to everything being about fetch quests or combat. That said, Simpler Times is very short. With the price of entry not breaking double digits though, it’s something I don’t mind.

Lead Video Game Editor | [email protected]

David Burdette is a gamer/writer/content creator from TN and Lead Editor for Gaming Trend. He loves Playstation, Star Wars, Marvel, and many other fandoms. He also plays way too much Call Of Duty. You can chat with him on Twitter @SplitEnd89.



Simpler TImes

Review Guidelines

Sometimes you just need to slow down, and Simpler Times is a great game for that. It’s a vibe, a “stop and smell the roses experience”. Some may be disappointed in a lack of gameplay depth, but those who want a game resembling a break will be pleasantly surprised.

David Burdette

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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