I’m standing outside a lighthouse. The sun is setting as I watch a cruise off in the distance sail out of view. It’s only been 15 minutes since I arrived, but it feels like I’ve been hanging out here for far longer. A few minutes prior, I was at the top of the lighthouse scanning the horizon with a telescope. There’s not much to see amid the ocean, but the view is lovely all the same. Watching the day go by as I listen to the calming sounds of the ocean: it’s a nice moment. A pleasant respite from the noise and stress of life. To get away from it all for a time and unwind: it’s what makes A Bright Light in the Middle of the Ocean so effective.
Created by Fi Silva, A Bright Light in the Middle of the Ocean sees you wandering around a small island and the lighthouse that rests upon it. It’s a simple space, the low-poly landscape depicting the scene in beautiful minimalist form. There’s little to explore but plenty to take in between the surrounding sights and the little touches strewn about the lighthouse.
Games like this feel like vacations. They whisk us away from the doldrums of life to somewhere nice and idyllic. A place where we can let our minds wander, where the stresses of our lives can melt away for a time. Where most other games engage through challenge or narrative, works like A Bright Light languish in the simple pleasantries of being somewhere comforting. Whether that’s a lighthouse stationed in the middle of the ocean or a surreal daydream, it’s a chance to rest and relax; to explore new places and enjoy the sights and sounds.
It’s the sort escapism I find myself longing for these days. A place to hide away from all the awfulness of the world for a time. A peaceful space to retreat to briefly to decompress. Videogames as a whole may be apt at providing that particular service, but wander games in particular embody that better than any other.