Else Heart.Break() makes me want to smoke cigarettes. It’s not that I don’t value my health. It’s that being a smoker seems to be the easiest way to people’s hearts in the game. If you smoke, you can say “yes” when strangers ask if you have either a) a lighter, or b) a smoke. With that icebreaker a whole range of social possibilities open up.
“So, what’s your story?” the person might ask as they take their first drag, thanking you between pursed lips. You’ve met someone because you both smoke and now you’re chatting. The alternative is remaining seated in the smoke-free corner of the club while the disco lights spin across your glazed face. How fun.
This might be one of the possible intersections in else Heart.Break(). We’ll find out soon enough as it’s coming out on September 24th. But, actually, there’s another option that I’ve missed out. It’s possible to hack the reality of the game’s world to make friends so you can skip all the anxiety of actually talking to them first. This is, after all, a place “where bits have replaced atoms.”
The idea is to help the city of Dorisburg’s newest arrival Sebastian to find his place. He’s moved in among the hackers and activists and just landed his first job, but he’s out to discover himself, to step into his adult life. How he does this and where he ends up is left to you. And this freedom is important. Creator Erik Svedang emphasizes the efforts he’s gone through to ensure that the city is “meticulously simulated,” with citizens going about life on their own accord, and loads of everyday objects and computers working and being modifiable.
The big question is how far can you go? The end of the new trailer shows Sebastian hacking an arcade cabinet in order to get the highest score on its leaderboards. It’s a synecdoche that leads to more questions: can I hack myself a better job? Can I hack someone to fall in love with me? Can I hack myself?
It’s easy to spiral out of control with this Matrix-like discourse (“What is real?”). But Else Heart.Break() isn’t about that. Svedang wants it to be a “laid-back experience” first and foremost. That’s why, if everything becomes too much, you can take a stroll into a nearby café, sit down on a chair of your choosing, and drink a slow cup of coffee.
Else Heart.Break() is coming to Windows, Mac, and Linux on Steam and the Humble Store on September 24th. Check out its website for more info.