A cracking sound penetrates the calm atmosphere and gentle darkness, a ray of hazy blue light breaks through the shell’s newformed gaps. Your fledgling eyes adjust to an ancient world, and a wise elder gazes on in sympathy with a small word of advice.
With no bearings, only an inner yearning to explore the horizon, you embark on your blurry-eyed journey. It will be tiresome, a test of your patience, but worry not young and weary traveler: life is both harder and easier than it seems.
With critical eyes, one might see HATCH as a sort of straight-forward first person homage to Bennett Foddy’s Getting Over It, but ultimately it manages to find a way to rise above this insurmountable first impression, carving out an identity of it’s own. There’s something worth examining closer, because unlike ‘Getting Over It’ HATCH contrasts itself by leveraging bespoke assets, a delicate art-style, and often times the complete silence that leaves you with nothing except the challenge and your thoughts, with no soothing narrator to pass the time.
They are similar only in their most basic of ideas, diverging drastically past this initial point. That’s part of what gives HATCH it’s charisma- a daring yet subdued, naive entry into what could easily succumb to the cynical pitfalls of cash-in “shovelware” that Foddy riffed off of in parody years prior. Instead, the design expresses a heartfelt earnestness in how fearlessly it approaches the subject matter, HATCH is much an expression both mechanically and contextually of the very narrative it portrays internally.
As you claw and grasp your way up the superstructure, it is stark just how massive and overwhelming the scale of the tower is. While there is no passage of time, there is a palpable illusion of its progression as the color scheme gradually brightens during your ascent and the initial music quietly fades into a new soundtrack. Once you reach the initial ‘summit’ so to speak, there is a true sense of accomplishment, a feeling similar to when one spends an early morning sunrise hiking up a mountain, finally arriving at the refreshing clarity of noon.
HATCH shows that difficulty isn’t something that should come off as a needlessly cruel institution, or an insult used to make light of one’s performance. Instead that the act of engaging with a difficult task can turn meditative, like a sculpture slowly chipped away inch-by-inch as you get closer to that perfect view.
I didn’t quite manage to get to the top of the world, but some day I might. Rubeki’s world crafting has left me hungry to see the reward they left for me at the peak, and I hope after reading this you will feel the same.
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