The game we’ll be looking at today is an interesting one. I say this mostly because I’m not sure I’d call it a game at all. So why am I bothering to comment on it, then? Put very simply it’s excellent. This is something coming from a genre I’m not even sure how I’m going to label, though. It’s not quite interactive enough to be a game, it’s not a virtual novel and there’s too much to it to simply refer to it as an experience. I think we’re going to call The Gallery an interactive movie, and this probably still isn’t really doing it justice.
If there were ever a game that I’d refuse to relate the story to it’s this one. As I’ve just mentioned The Gallery is more of a movie than it is anything else. To even begin to tell you what happens in this brilliantly shot thriller would just open you up to major spoilers. All I’m going to say it’s set in an art gallery (duh,) and that you can take on the story from the point of view of one of two main characters, both of whom are curators. You can either play in the present-day or go back in time to the 80s. The rest I’m going to keep a mystery for really obvious reasons. What I will say is that this is a very well-written piece of cinema and that I think this game will open the way for many other playable films in the future.
To make The Gallery function as an experience that’s worth having the acting has to be on point. I can’t make any comment on the graphics in this game, simply because there aren’t any. The entire game is full motion film. So, with this being said, the acting is very good. This isn’t going to be the next Hollywood blockbuster with a sea of twinkling A-List stars swanning about the place but the people involved clearly take their art seriously and are very good at what they do. As for the filming, it’s all very neatly and professionally done and this has to be commended. Another important point to make is that if this is something that really takes off and spawns a genre in its own right, we might see game actors winning awards just as we do in TV and film and that would be awesome.
The gameplay element of The Gallery isn’t so much objective driven as it is choice driven. There are a bunch of different endings to this game depending on the choices you make. At certain junctions in conversation, you’ll be given a choice to make as to how your character deals with a situation or answers a question. These answers will have an effect on how you are perceived by the other characters in the game and, ultimately the ending you’ll unlock. You won’t even meet all the same characters in one run, this gives the game a really good amount of replayability if you want to see all this title has to offer. The fact that your playing from the perspective of different characters in different times is really cool too. I’ve been playing through the story set in the modern day and haven’t even touched the other one yet. This title is so different and intriguing though that I’ll absolutely be wanting to see all it has to offer.
This is a much shorter take on a game than you’d usually see from me. This isn’t because I don’t like it or because I don’t have much to tell you, but because it’s something that you’ll really need to experience for yourself. On the same note, I’m not going to give this game a score. The Gallery is so unlike anything I’ve played in recent years that I can’t score it by any of the usual parameters that I’d naturally use. The visuals, sound, and effects are all wrapped into a movie, so they’re brilliant but in a totally different sense than we’d normally be critiquing. I can’t make comment on the controls either. This comes down to watching a story play out and hitting a button when asked to. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, it’s just functional. As for the difficulty, with this being a choice-driven game there really isn’t any as such. It all just comes down to how you feel you want things to play out and to an extent your own memory if you want to make sure you make different choices on future playthroughs.
One point I feel needs to be made is that if you’re going into The Gallery looking for a game in the truest sense of the word you aren’t going to get one. If you’re the kind of player that wants full agency for your character in every game you play or you’re the sort of person that skips the cut scenes to get to the good stuff, you’ll likely not have a massive amount of fun here. On a more aesthetic note, there’s a big difference between British and American filmmaking. Those of you who don’t like British filmmaking may well be put off here. This is important to note because I’m a Brit and I’m picky about some of our more homespun offerings, simply on account of certain choices we favor in shooting and directing movies. If you’re like me, maybe watch the trailer before making any decisions on a purchase.
So there you have it. A review that isn’t really a review about a game that isn’t really a game. The Gallery is an amazing creation in its own right and I’d strongly advise checking it out if you’re looking for something completely different from the norm. Whether it’s good or bad will be a matter of personal taste over anything that’s intrinsically wrong with the making of the game. I definitely hope that this is the beginning of many other developers doing similar with different stories. If they do, we’re going to be creating a whole new set of reviewing criteria because at the moment The Gallery is breaking the mold on pretty much all fronts. Genuinely extremely impressive work all around.