I haven’t mentioned my adoration of Gambit Labs games lately. I was very excited to find a new game they released this past summer. A Closed World is described by them as “a digital game that deals with queer issues”. This makes me understandably excited. Gender identity and queer issues are a theme that very rarely come up in games and more rarely are treated well. Serious games are an extremely useful tool, not only for persuading people who disagree with the game, but also for helping people come to terms with themselves.
A Closed World is a JRPG style game where you take up the role of a teenager from a small closed in village on the edge of a forest. Your character is in love with another teenager from the village, one who is the same gender as your character. The forest and the fog beyond it are believed to be full of horrible monsters and people are forbidden from going there. Your character’s sweetheart decides that if the pair of you won’t be allowed to live your lives, then you should run into the forest. They went in without you and that is where the game begins.
Within the forest, there are creatures called demons. These represent your character’s inner demons and they must be confronted so that you can progress. One thing I want to mention here, looking at the above picture, is how awesome the art is in this game. Its simple, but quite lovely. All of the demons are stylized representations of the person or force that they represent and they were all really well done.
The confrontations with your inner demons are done in classic JRPG style with your attacks being arguments and your heal ability being taking a breath. The opponent can taunt you to keep you from using a given type of argument. This particular confrontation was done with your sweetheart’s parents. I thought the representation was quite nice and also pretty amusing. Looking at the battlefield, take a look at how small your avatar is in comparison to your opponent. It really strikes home the feeling of worthlessness or inferiority in the face of the rest of society.
The only complaint I could possibly make is that A Closed World was very short. On one hand, short serious games that come to the point and stick it are more effective. On the other hand, I was really enjoying this game when it ended. I would really enjoy another chapter or just more content. Maybe a sequel. In light of that, I award A Closed World with a well earned 4.5 out of 5 hearts.
If you would like to play A Closed World, which you should, you can find it here at the Gambit Labs website.