This Farming Sim is a practice to let go of trauma

Aka begs his dying friend to stay with him.

Screenshot: Cosmo Gatto / Kotaku

Every year there is at least one game that will excite me enough to the point that I start to cry. For me, this year, it is alias, a game about recovering from the violence and trauma of the past. It takes place in a light farming simulator with cute characters, each of whom has a problem to solve as you try to build a life of peace for yourself and those around you. i am finding alias being fun and charming in its own right, while also being a portal for inner reflection.

Now available for PC and Nintendo Switch, alias is a very simple open world farming game with an endearing narrative and characters. First appeared on our radar as a demo during the Steam Next festival in October and ultimately it is about moving from dark and violent days to building a better future. Although other farming simulators offer more detailed simulations of life on the farm, spending time playing alias In some ways it has been more about spending time with myself, contemplating how best to put my most difficult years behind me.

In alias You play as an anthropomorphic red panda named Aka, not a red fox or raccoon, he quickly reminds you, once a soldier in a war. You begin by walking away from the battlefield and setting sail for Pine Island, a place your friend Thom promises is a chance to leave violence and suffering behind. You reach its shore and discover that there is a lot of work to be done. Garbage is washed up, the land is overgrown and littered with traps, and many other anthropomorphic animals are trapped in some state of danger that will require your intervention.

Aka says that he will need an ax to free some creatures.

Screenshot: Cosmo Gatto / Kotaku

The people of Pine Island and the neighboring islands that you will explore each have different needs and desires, such as a wolf caught in a trap and in need of magical healing, a ghost of someone who is too scared by what their suffering has done to stop. move on, or just some cool dog who’s out of coconuts and bananas and wants to make the most epic milkshake ever. Some just want to play some music, and you’re free to jam along with them through a rhythmic mini-game. Others just want to lie on the beach and watch the clouds. You too can join them. No matter where you go or who you help, two things are clear: this is a peaceful place, and Aka finally has a chance to put his difficult war memories behind him. Maybe it’s all a reminder of what you, the gamer, can also leave behind.

The actual farming elements, and gameplay mechanically like “a video game,” may not be meaty enough if you’re looking for something more simulation-like. (And if that’s what you’re looking for, could I recommend the ultimate hardcore simulation game, dwarven fortress).

The farming game itself just gets the job done. Sometimes it’s tricky to line up the seeds in a specific plot exactly how you want it. The menus aren’t super intuitive to navigate and sometimes have a few bugs. The day-night cycle feels like it goes by a little too fast. And other little quirks, like the need to come to a complete stop to pick up an item (you can’t just hit the pickup button while running over something), make alias a bit too simple and sometimes even cumbersome to strictly recommend as a farming sim. But that’s probably not what you should be looking at alias.

Aka talks to a dog with an ambition to make an amazing milkshake.

Screenshot: Cosmo Gatto / Kotaku

Farming and crafting and running errands make for a pretty satisfying cycle. Quests like fixing your boat or finding a carrot for a snowman give you goals to pursue, but they are all very simple. The heart of the game is in meeting characters that are thought-provoking or in need of empathy. These encounters are what help make alias a deeply contemplative experience that keeps me coming back.

I can’t help but think about my own past trauma while playing. alias. “The war is over,” reads an opening message. Follow soft and peaceful music over seductive art. As I speak to various characters who sometimes have their own painful memories of Aka’s war, I think of my own battles. For me, those have largely been with myself, spilling out to cause collateral damage to those around me. But alias It’s reminding me that my wars are largely over, too.

Having transitioned from one genre to another later than I would have ideally preferred, most of my “best” years were spent in cryptic, conflicted agony. And I fought many battles, against myself and against others. It’s hard not to read Thom’s note to Aka witThe promise of a more peaceful opportunity on Pine Island as the sort of thing I was looking for as I neared the end of closet life. Aka’s own transition from soldier to farmer to problem solver is from pain to peace, and like my transition in real life, it is not just a solitary act, but is accomplished by finding empathy and creating connections (community) with others. the rest.

Aka thinks of his now deceased friend.

Screenshot: Cosmo Cat/.

I find myself playing alias, performing tasks, farming, and crafting to make Aka’s life and the lives of the other characters a little brighter, so she can hang out on the beach with a hippo named Daydreamer to watch the clouds. Or she just enjoys some tunes with Kenny the musical koala. It is a reminder that the act of trying to be there for others in need is valuable and makes a difference; and that all the time she spends crafting and creating is an act of recovery.

And it is in that liminal space where aliasThe narrative of and my own life become entangled. I wonder if that’s what I’m doing here too. Playing a game like a red panda tidying up a fictional island and making life better for others, I find inspiration to tidy up and get through my own hard days, always with the reminder that the act of letting go can make the world better. around me for those who are in it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *