Greetings from Virginia

by Shane Dillon
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SMALL, independent games developers (‘indies’) have enjoyed a resurgence in recent years, with many successfully moving away from niche gaming on PCs to the bigger gaming ecosystems – and markets – that cross development for consoles offer.
As one of the latest such indie titles to woo critics, and plenty of gamers, Virgina (Cert 12, PC, Mac, PS4, XBO, c. €10) is something of a curate’s egg, with plenty of parts that should appeal to most people, but some bits that are a little offputting.
Perhaps unfairly described as a mish-mash of a tale, with a FBI agent (think: Dana Scully, from the X-Files) investigating a missing child case in a small town (now think of a Twin Peaks vibe), developers Variable State have crafted a curio indeed.
Behind its basic yet effective graphics, perhaps Virginia’s biggest unique selling point is its script – there isn’t one.
The entire game is wordless, and plays out across its couple of hours of gameplay without so much as a simple hello.
And yet, despite this “flaw”, Virgina has plenty of atmosphere, successfully evoking a small town Americana feel as its story plays out, while your personal FBI story ticks away in the background.
Add in a subtly shifting dynamic and relationship between the two lead characters – you as a rookie FBI agent, teaming up with a frosty older partner – and Virgina creates a short but oh-so-stylish addition to the burgeoning “walk-em-up” genre: games where little player skill is required to proceed, but which are atmospheric, or have a detailed plot to uncover.
Clumsy editing in its latter half detract from the brief tale, but its stylish delivery and visuals – and its superb movie-like score – make Virginia well worth the visit.

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