One of the marks of a great game is its ability to stay with you long after you’ve finished playing it. Even more so is it’s ability to imprint specific memorable scenes into your mind - surrounding them with feelings that help to bind that scene to your memory. Usually these memorable games are pretty long in length, having time to build up into those moments, however this is not the case with Virginia.
Virginia is probably the shortest game I’ve ever played in terms of start to finish, but it’s also one of the games to stay with me the longest after finishing it. One of the many things that Virginia does so well is it’s ability to contain so many iconic scenes compacted into its relatively short time span. And please don’t think I’m mentioning the time span of Virginia as being a negative thing - quite the opposite. The way you need to think of this game is as an interactive film / novel. The story is set and 99% of the actions are inevitable, however giving you full control over performing those actions puts you completely in the mind of the main character.
I have previously praised the music of Virginia, expertly written by Lyndon Holland, so I wont go too much into that again here. All I will say is that the music of Virginia is the game’s heartbeat; it’s skeleton; its very being…
…It kind of has to be when there are no words spoken in the whole game. That’s right, no words are spoken throughout the whole game! The story is driven forward, and the characters thoughts and feelings implied, by the aforementioned music coupled with the unique animation style used.
The artwork for Virginia is just as beautiful as the music that scores it. As you can see from the image above, the game’s scenes are very vibrant-looking with an almost painted aesthetic. It didn’t take much playing until I was wanting real life to look like this - simply put, it is gorgeous. Even the dark dream sequences are full of colour. The use of the photographer’s dark room red is exceptional in one of the games first dream sequences.
The story itself gets trippy and quite cryptic towards the end, in fact most of the game contains cryptic imagery, but it feels cohesive through it’s confusion. Like Twin Peaks, from which Virginia has lovingly taken much inspiration, so too does the story of Virginia not have to be completely understood first time round. Instead it is more than enough to simply soak up the dream-like atmosphere and let the game conjure up whatever feelings it does within you.
Virginia is a unique offering and a great accomplishment for the developers at Variable State, and I eagerly await their next offering.