The crisp refreshing taste of a fresh pear hitting your tastebuds, while the winter wind bites your face. Good Morning, Drifters by @lowpolis is an exercise in appreciating the little things and the picturesque memories we make with friends.
With no dialogue choices, linear paths, nor open worlds to explore for mysteries or tragedies, it would be a disservice classify Drifters so crudely as a “walking simulator” when it politely asks you to engage, instead, as a passive observer. It is so often that we find ourselves as passive actors in our own social lives, crippled by the same anxiety that has befallen poor nervous Dandelion. Drifters is a game that emphasizes the connections that you make with people, where activities are framed simply as a delightful backdrop.
Drifter’s objective in telling you to take it easy and soak it all in is self-evident from the opening premise. As you find yourself without a car, you embark on a previously arranged social engagement for its own sake, chatting with pals while partaking in communal treats, exploring newfound developments in their interpersonal relationships since the last time you saw each other. It’s a pleasant ritual of updating the snapshot, the emotional delta you all share through a web of hushed whispers, gossip and telephone-speculation. Secretive chatter is never used to tear down, nor shame, but only to display blossoming enthusiasm for the developments in each other’s wonderfully cozy lives painted by subdued pastels.
Rowan, the group organizer and racing director remarks on how coffee and warm socks gets them through the day, Honey Ginger carries out an extensive conversation on the qualities and characteristics of the produce brought to satiate the group’s hunger. Drifters wants you to practice self-care, to meditate on the things that enrich your every day life that often go overlooked.
It’s easy for many of us to become overwhelmed by the idea of social contact, especially in large groups, but Drifters wants you to understand the power of curating a wonderful, mutually supportive group of friends, a true family. It reassures you that not everything has to be about posturing or competitive hierarchies, the racing team never holds even wins or losses over each other beyond jovial ribbing, and the goal is not victory, but bonding. We’re all just trying to make it out there, and we can do it together.
In many ways, our nervous newcomer, Dandelion exemplifies the difficulty some of us can find when trying to navigate a new sphere of friendship that has already determined and mapped out its in-jokes and colloquialisms. They find themselves drifting uncontrollably as they attempt to evade faux-pas and unspoken boundaries, a fear that will be assuaged only with time and love.
Drifters leverages procedural generation to create small moments of harmless drama in playful rivalries, driving forward the sense of a living scene full of vibrant actors. And through this delightful tapestry, we learn to come a little closer to all the loved ones we may have in our own lives.
Try a taste for yourself.
Emily Rose is an indie developer who writes for rebind.io and resides in the pacific northwest. She’s often seen in the local VR arcade and developer community participating in pushing the medium’s horizons. You can find her on twitter @caravanmalice