The appeal of narrative games is and always will be irresistible for me, and with How We Know We're Alive, the visuals added to that special allure that made me want to pick it up the instant I saw it. The short point-and-click-esque game (if it can even be called that) thrusts you into the nostalgia of coming home to a tragedy from your hometown, but while the game looks gorgeous at first glance, does it have enough going for it to leave a lasting impression?Table of contents:
You play as Sara, a copywriter for an ad agency in the big bustling city come to pay respects on her estranged best friend's grave on the anniversary of her death. You're never quite sure what happened between the two of you, but you've both lost touch over the years, mainly because you've been too busy with the sights and sounds of city life while your best friend Maria chose to stay in your small town to raise a family. The smallness of the town has always felt suffocating to you, and now that you're back, you find that nothing has changed - save for the big, gaping hole your best friend's death has left in her wake.
The lack of interaction or actual gameplay might be off-putting for some, but I think this is just brilliant, to be honest - the game knows exactly what it wants to do and wastes no time in doing it, and that's to tell this straightforward story without any distractions. The one-hour runtime makes sure that the game doesn't overstay its welcome, either - and it certainly gets its point across despite its brevity.
How We Know We're Alive is proof that less really can be more, and it's the perfect experience to go through on mobile, too. Tapping and moving from scene to scene is intuitive, and the quick runtime (with auto-saves!) makes it the perfect title to dive into if you're in the mood for a quick and emotion-filled breather from your own version of Sara's fast-paced city life.