From the moment I started playing Beckett, a surrealist adventure game about a private investigator, I couldn’t help but be reminded about all the “edgy” poetry I used to write as a teenager.
You know the sort I mean. When you got the stage where you were too cool for rhyming; where stringing nonsensical words together to release your inner soul onto a piece of paper was the done thing. Beckett feels like a visual representation of that poetry – albeit undoubtedly better poetry than my 15-year-old self could muster. It’s a powerful mixture of text, photographs, drawings and audio that combine into a beautiful and intriguing mess. It’s like being inside someone’s mind.
Technically, Beckett is a point and click game, but it’s unlike any point and click you’ve ever played before. The eponymous protagonist, Beckett – not Mr. Beckett, just Beckett – is a private investigator who’s past his best, and he’s obviously dealing with some dark personal demons. Filled with haunting imagery and thought-provoking quotes, Beckett is technically an adventure game about finding a mentally-ill man who has gone missing. But it’s also a study of the human subconscious.
The fact that Beckett is showcased in Dundee’s V&A museum as a permanent design artefact tells you everything you need to know about this game. It’s not a game. It’s an experience; a journey. One that you’ll take and not quite know how to process once you’re done. It’s solid proof that the argument of art versus video games is futile. They’re one and the same.
It’s fascinating, but it’s dark, mysterious and surreal. You’ll relate to it; you’ll be horrified, unsettled, bemused. The sound effects affected me most; the squelching, scuttling noises that represented one of the characters talking. The cough of Beckett. The hubbub of a busy bar. It’s been very cleverly put together, and it’ll stay with you long after you’ve finished.