PEGBRJE: The Maker’s Eden and Waiting for the Loop

We out here in the future, dealing with our FEELINGS.

The Maker’s Eden is a graphic novel-like narrative title made by Screwy Lightbulb, an indie studio with an extensive release history of digital colouring pages and game titles based out of South Africa. For this title, an unknown individual awakens in a rundown apartment, only to be made aware of their undetermined origins. Confused, the now self-titled ‘905’ escapes and ventures outside to learn more about themselves and this world they know nothing about.

Published across three acts, players will be following 905 as they attempt to figure out their origins while getting caught up in the world’s plots. The world exploration is done in a point-and-click adventure style, where players will explore each room they are in and solve simple puzzles to unlock plot elements, enabling their continuation. The puzzles are not meant to be the focal point, so they are relatively simple with an outlier or two depending on the player understanding what the puzzle actually is. Generally the solutions revolve around utilizing information of the world to make simple button presses, with the occasional item-based instance in which items in different areas are needed. These puzzles are meant to accentuate the plot and create immersion for the player to feel as if they are influencing the world while acting upon their own understandings.

The plot they are helping, as stated earlier, revolves around the lack of understanding that our protagonist has. They know nothing of the current world outside of the massive amounts of technical data they have stored, meaning they lack a name but understand what an anti-grav is for some reason. As inferred, our protag has awoken in a bizarre futuristic state in which androids are seemingly the dominant species, with humans being littered throughout here and there. It is quite reminiscent of many other cyberpunk/noir titles found in the bundle and beyond, doing a fantastic job of maintaining an information drip feed of the world as players focus is on 905’s struggles, rather than attempting an info dump at the beginning. There is one individual that does serve as an ‘lore piece’ — if one could call him that — but it’s done in such a way to avoid feeling overbearing and ridiculous. Thanks to this, the themes of dystopian control and restricted class structure are able to bleed in to the conversations of the locals while 905 attempts to piece together what they are. Conversations usually contain multiple answers to assist in fleshing out the world, but it also gives the illusion that there is branching plotlines. As of right now, I cannot tell if there are multiple paths for the player to take, especially when after a long conversation the player is turned down. I never felt like it was directly attempting to pretend that there was multiple paths, only that there were choices to gain more knowledge or change some opinions.

Where the plot gets interesting is actually upon the ending of the first Act — not to say it wasn’t interesting prior, but it begins to come into itself as it were. This of course is where we get in to spoiler territory, so do be a tad careful.

See, the entire time in Act one, players are certain that 905 is an android of some kind; I did, at least. With all the talk about missing ID and lacking designation, added on with the fact that we never see the player character, it was the logical conclusion. Turns out 905 is the exact opposite; they’re a human, and all those humans wandering around? They’re androids, as the entire human race has been seemingly eradicated after a certain war prior to the game’s start. What this does is change the viewport of many who 905 has met, calling in to question exactly what their relationship now is as they are no longer the same. See, much of the motto of the corporate is that there is no discrimination as we are all equal — being of a different species calls that in to question immediately, and many begin questioning the loyalty of 905 to their friends they’ve made. This is further compounded when 905’s true ‘designation’ is revealed, further causing rifts between those they’ve learned to trust and those they are supposed to. We’ll keep the rest of the spoilers to ourselves.

The Maker’s Eden isn’t long, but within its time it brings about a progressing story set within a depressing world quite convincingly. 905 is attempting to learn and grow with every interaction in the hopes of coming to grips with themselves, while the world attempts to struggle under the weight of the system imposed upon it. As of right now, the third act has yet to be released with ‘vignettes’ in their stead to give more worldbuilding, and after the cliffhanger that is Act 2 I’d be interested to see how the story comes to its natural conclusion. There are just too many possibilities, and seeing how they tie together is going to be a trip. If this sounds like a journey up your alley, try it out and join the waiting party.

Over before I even realized it, so I took a screenshot from itch.io.

Waiting for the Loop is a visual novel experience made by Side Group Games, an indie studio spearheaded by Reis Mahnic in the United States. Within this short tale, players will be following the life of a computer programmer and her stumbling in to creating the singularity itself, only to realize that a certain group may be extremely interested in her findings.

Waiting for the Loop has players following Dianne and the AI she helps to create known only as IAC, guiding Dianne as she makes decisions whilst interacting with IAC and the people around her. Much of the time will be spent simply watching the events unfold — the game can be put in to ‘clicking’ mode to click through the dialogue, but I left it on auto — and experiencing the story that it wants to tell. The decisions, however, will have a profound effect on how IAC reacts and responds as the title moves onwards, as it will reinforce their opinions on who they are as a being and what they wish to do with life.

Albeit short, Waiting for the Loop delves in to the same themes as the previous title today with even more focus on the familial impact and implication. IAC is a being created by Dianne, able to think and understand while growing and witnessing the growth around them. The familial attachment also goes in to Dianne’s physical family as well, as players witness her introduction in to computers, the creation of IAC under less than ideal circumstances, and the daughters that she has with her husband later on. This gives the tale almost a ‘coming of age’ extension for IAC as players witness them going from simple decision making to interacting with others at a human level, to going outside the scope that may be imposed by Dianne. Since players can make choices for Dianne, the relationship between IAC and Dianne can be vastly different, and IAC’s attitude towards many different events can shift depending on how they feel they’ve been treated — even if they don’t view it as emotions.

It only lasts 15 minutes at most and ends abruptly, but Waiting for the Loop sets the narrative pace perfectly with a simple tale of what it means to be human and to be cared for. How players treat IAC will alter how the title ends with 4 possible endings — I was not expecting the heartbreak that I experienced on my ending, I’ll say that much. Fans of interactive novels will definitely want to try this out, and the voice acting helps to alleviate some of the reading if unable.

Links to the Future

Game Dev who decided to take on the monumental task of giving an overview of all 59 pages in the bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. We keep going.