Part interactive fiction, part audio drama, part exploratory game. In the Pause between the Ringing is a fascinating journey into the ontological impact of colonial occupation and resource exploitation through the lens of magical realism. Not only exploring what it means to be seized by hostile corporate overlords, but the ensuing effect upon a language, a culture, and the places that form in its wake.
Commissioned by the Victoria And Albert Museum’s Design/Play/Disrupt program, Pause is a bleak reminder of the not-too-distant past, when the English and Dutch crowns extended their tendrils across every continent and encircled the world. At the core of these imperialistic ambitions was economic innovation and exploitation of natural resources without any regard for the local populace.
More importantly, it’s an examination of a holistic understanding of cyclical history; that to truly grasp the implications of even a recent historical setting, one must see the recurrent cycles of time. And within this repetition, our protagonist is trapped, contained in their own personal purgatory, an implied revolutionary who dared create communication infrastructure that serves his own people and language.
And in reflection of this story-within-itself, no element is wasted, from the soundtrack to the visuals to the narrative structure.
Pause is a continuation of a larger fictional narrative established in earlier titles from Studio Oleomingus like A Museum Of Dubious Splendors. Both games follow a set of short stories authored by a fictional obscure Gujarati poet, “Mir Umar Hassan”, that Olemingus created as a vehicle for atmospheric continuity between games.
The studio is a two-man team out of Chala, a small town near Daman in western India. Dhruv Jani and Sushant Chakraborty along with several contributing artists have made their way through the European arts scene and garnered the recognition of the games press with their unusual storytelling and vibrant surrealist artistic vision.
It’s a refreshing continuation of a trend wherein new independent game developers crop up internationally, helping to contribute to a more varied exploration not just of the past, but the future and fictional worlds beyond.
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