“Walking simulator” is often used a pejorative to put down a genre of games where you can’t fail and instead experience a world with little to no stakes. But a new game takes that idea to a new level and proves that if you’re skipping games in this genre, then you’re missing out.
Everything is a simulation of all things at all scales. It’s a game where you may start out as a camel, but through exploration, you may find yourself dancing through galaxy as a cluster of stars or swimming through microscopic stew as as a tardigrade. And through all of this, as long as you continue moving in any direction you choose, you’ll uncover the thoughts of rocks, trees, and more as well as audio snippets from philosopher Alan Watts. It is out now for PlayStation 4, and it’s coming to PC and Mac on April 21.
I’ve only put 40 minutes into Everything, but it’s already blown me away a couple of times. The moment-to-moment gameplay is primarily about exploring. As you move around, you’ll bump into other creatures with icons above their heads that can teach you how to play the game. Early on, that means singing to attract other like objects and learning how to inhabit the bodies of other creatures. And that core exploration is exciting because you can jump into anything that you see. You are everything.
Ascending or descending to smaller or larger scales is especially thrilling. Jumping from a horde of trees up to an entire island, to a planet, and then to a star system was breathtaking. Finding out what was beyond galaxies was also an important moment for me.
But I think Everything is at its best when it wears its intentions on its sleeve. Engaging in the exploration while an Alan Watts audio clip plays in the background reveals exactly what developer David O’Reilly was after with this game. Through playing Everything, you’re supposed to see that the barriers we put up between ourselves and other things and even other people is an illusion. Watts explicitly says that our point of view only gives us a piece of the picture of an interconnected living everything that is one contiguous whole. And while I like to think I’m generally open to the idea of hearing that I “came from the world” as opposed to “coming into the world” or that I am the ongoing process of the big bang, Everything succeeds because it is a beautiful, enticing lubricant that makes me receptive to those ideas.