Simply described on Steam as a “short story-driven experience”, I had little expectation from Gone Fireflies, a game put together in RPG Maker.
The premise interested me though — it promised the story of a detective called out to investigate a woman’s suicide and the sudden disappearance of her husband. Letting you play as both the detective and the husband under investigation, it’d tell the tale of both men’s lives, the paths they’d taken to get where they were, and their loves and losses along the way.
Gone Fireflies did not disappoint.
It took somewhere between 90 minutes and two hours to complete Gone Fireflies, but in that time I was completely hooked to my screen. Rarely has a game made such an emotional impact on me, let alone a title so seemingly simple, with its pixelated RPG Maker assets.
Feeling more like a visual novel than anything else, Gone Fireflies plays out in a number of short scenes that switch between the viewpoints of James, now a police detective, and Thomas, a married man dealing with his wife’s illness. Spanning a decade, the short scenes take us through both characters’ marriages and the losses and hardships they’ve face along the way. It’s painfully poignant from start to finish. Gone Fireflies is not a happy tale, but it’s one that’s carefully and beautifully told.
The music, too, is beautiful. Haunting piano melodies from Jeremy Wray, Nicolas Gasparini and Kevin MacLeod set the tone perfectly, echoing the subdued and melancholic nature of the story.
To give too much away about Gone Fireflies would ruin the game — its unfolding narrative is the whole point — but let’s just say that while it doesn’t do anything too original or profound, it’s an incredibly human story that will touch even the most austere of us. Developed by Quiet Bay Studio — essentially a one-person team made up of A.C. Gulikers — Gone Fireflies is a surprising indie title that really deserves more attention. If you’ve got a few quid to spare and are looking for something a little different on Steam, do give it a try.