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SoundStrider

title:SoundStrider
url:link
download page:No link!
license:shareware
genre:Misc
developer:shiftBacktick
platform:Windows
release:June, 2020
features:text, sound, visuals
last edit by:Dark

Description

SoundStrider is both one of the most unique, and one of the hardest to describe games we've seen for quite a significant while. Indeed, the reason the above genre is given as "misc", is that there is literally no category SoundStrider falls into. It is first person, but not an adventure or shooter game, it involves music generation and interactions with audio, but isn't a rhythm action arcade game, it involves exploration, and quests, but isn't an rpg or interactive narrative, indeed it has absolutely no narrative at all.


To describe SoundStrider in purely pragmatic terms, it's a combination walking simulator and musical landscape generator. In the game, use either the arrow keys, mouse, or Q, W, E, and S, to walk in the cardinal directions (A and d are used to sidestep), whilst hitting r will toggle automatic movement focus. What is a bit more complicated is describing where you move and what you do. SoundStrider uses a complex array of sounds, tones, and sound generation tools to create one of the most rich, detailed and down right fascinating audio landscapes ever imagined. Using the above keys, the "object", of the game (at least as far as SoundStrider has an object), is to simply move around this landscape, appreciate the sounds and relax. Here and there, a player will come across beacons (there's one in front at the start), and hitting these beacons will activate them, setting up a trail across the world (listen out for the beeping compass, heading directly away from it will tell you the direction of the next beacon).


As well as simply activating beacons, some will also generate quests. These are little challenges, though whether you want to complete them or not is entirely up to you. You might for example find a clockwork machine with auditory parts scattered around the beacon to activate, or find a windup toy which plays a tune when walked into. Alternatively, hear a sound from another part of the landscape which you can follow to it's destination, for example following the sound of a campfire to an area full of forest sounds.

The game does keep a log of the number of beacons you activate and the number of quests complete, and you can even save bookmarks of your favourite parts of the landscape, however to what extent these influence your experience of the landscape and how you interact with it is entirely your decision. Indeed, you can choose to play the game in "free mode", in which there are no beacons or quests or breadcrumbs, and you can simply wander at will.

Additionally, the player is equipped with a virtual instrument which you can play at any time. Use the bottom row of your keyboard starting at C, with the keys above it counting as the black notes on a piano. Feel free to play where and when in the strange world you will, and also keep an eye on the virtual instrument since more is planned for it in future updates of the game.

Though the game is primarily audio, there are also some relaxing wave affects on screen in purple and yellow, which change over time as a relaxation aid, though this is one game where even though there are visuals, the lion's share of the content is definitely audio.


In terms of access, the game is written in html5, this means all of the menus and in game text are simply buttons and controls in your web browser of choice, though remember to enter focus mode in NVdA, or take whatever other action is necessary in your screen reader to use native keyboard controls in the browser window.


There is a demo of the game available on both Itch.io and (for those who want to tangle with the accessibility), steam, which lets you generate a landscape using several collections of sounds from the beach and storm areas, and play the basic find beacons quest, though note that the full game contains many more landscape elements including a psychedelic city, a dream-like ocean, a whispering forest and a glittering clockwork zone, all mixed together to a truly complex, and sometimes quite alien world.


The demo version may be [Played here in your web browser or downloaded as a stand alone package here on Itch.io, or Here on steam, where you can also buy the full game for a cost of just 5 usd.


With one of the most deep, complex and downright weird audio landscapes ever seen, not to mention one which can be randomly generated for ever more different experiences, and a truly unique, relaxing premise, SoundStrider, though not letting you earn gold, blow up aliens, compete on scoreboards or or become a hero, is an audio experience certainly not to be missed.


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Updates: entry 22 Jun 20 and description 22 Jun 20

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