Wandering a closed loop of an island, a hidden quest lays scattered about the surreal sights of this lonely mass. Your only choice: poke and prod the surrounds until something happens. Slowly, knowledge is amassed, and a eureka moment strikes! A flurry of activity as disparate elements click together, finally approaching new heights… And plateau. A new challenge lay before you, the culmination of all your epiphanies revealing further unknowns. Will you ever find an escape from this place?
Describing not only the experience of playing Myst, this ordeal also takes place on the islands of Fool’s Errand from developer crl (insta: @truecharl). Made for JamCraft 4, Fool’s Errand pits you against alien wildlife within a small patch of land surrounded by a poisonous fog. Time passes, and night reveals hostile creatures only held back by light. Thankfully, you can jump time ahead 12 hours by choosing to blink, allowing you to stick to adventuring in the safety of daylight.
However, time has an effect on the tide of the fog. It raises and lowers, revealing portions of previously covered land. From this, the player can work out a schedule, allowing them to explore even further. A wall of progress will be met, leaving only a few notable things to mull over at a time: A hulking single-eyed beast roams, emitting bleats of noise. Distant landmasses peek over the low tide, but reside too far away to reach. Rocks and trees litter the ground. With your limited set of ways to interact with the environment, the realization will eventually come to break the rocks, cut down the trees to gather wood for a campfire and then torches. Now, what hidden wonders will you be able to find during night? What use is there for fire?
A series of organic discoveries are the lifeblood of Fool’s Errand, but there’s so much more than meets the eye. Initial presumptions drawn to ensure survival are challenged and broken down, forcing players to reconsider how they view the world, as well as having them fight against their instincts. Layers peel back, until shocking truths are uncover, and a goal is in sight.
Fool’s Errand requires not only persistence, but risk. It’s a tightly wound puzzle box, with multiple moments of satisfaction from defeating its riddles, rewarding patience and a close attention to detail. Typically, a “fool’s errand” is one without payoff; a task given to haze an individual. But, this one carries more weight, some kind of greater implication of its reward. Lofty ambition paves the way for those who can nurture their endurance to survive this quest. Perhaps a fool’s errand to those who can’t persevere, but a deep experience to those that can stomach a journey without a map to guide them.
Fool’s Errand is currently available on itch.io.
Catherine Brinegar is a trans game developer and filmmaker who explores the surreal and abstract in her work. Beyond her creative endeavors she enjoys losing herself inside other worlds, interactive and not. Finding inspiration in everything, Catherine aims to see all the world has to offer, through the continual conversation of art. You can keep up with her on twitter @cathroon.