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How Many Reflections?

MirrorMoon EP made me sad. Maybe that’s okay since it’s a lonely game and sadness isn’t too far away from loneliness, but it also made me a little bit angry.

Now, I love this game. It’s slow-paced exploration with light puzzle solving and stunning low-poly planets in matte shades that shift with the light. I appreciate traveling via tape deck, like there’s a universe in everything. Also that even though music seems important sounds are subtle and faintly eerie. The stars feel vast and empty, and at first it’s difficult to imagine how to navigate with purpose.

MirrorMoon has the sort of multiplayer I appreciate, where I could feel the influence of others but never have to interact with them directly. I discovered a series of systems someone had named “HUG”, while other featured people’s names or words seemingly chosen at random. But some of the names were clues, too, and that’s how I eventually found my way, far faster than I could have alone. The system “WARMER” was my most important key, though it took some time to find what I was looking for even then.

Maybe there were other clues to be found. Ways to narrow down my search without relying on hints from other players. I don’t know what else is hiding out in the MirrorMoon universe. I could keep looking but I’m wary.

The ending credits reveal something more about MirrorMoon: that it includes cameos from a range of other indie games. I never found any on my way though, and I’m annoyed to know they exist. Some of these are games I love, too. I could smile at a reference to Kentucky Route Zero, The Graveyard or Dear Esther. But this is not where I want them. This is my lonely universe, not something that needs to shout at me about being part of the current era of indie creations. I don’t want the universe to feel smaller.

MirrorMoon Kentucky

Kentucky Route Zero reference in MirrorMoon EP.

I’ve had to accept this over and over. That Braid plays with Mario, Fez took a large gulp of Zelda and that even Gone Home arguably occurs in the same universe as System Shock and BioShock. So on and so on. Referencing indie titles doesn’t seem any better, though it felt particularly bad to see creations I have respect for linked together to form a lump of culture that isn’t really a single culture (I think/hope?).

Inspiration, community, your own history... there are so many reasons to reference something, but maybe not when the trend is beyond tired. Someone’s influences are likely to come through, but explicit, incestuous referencing is another matter. If you designed a universe and could put anything you wanted in it what would you choose?

I’m not sure if I want to keep exploring. I could wait for a new season and begin again from scratch, but that’s still no guarantee of what I’m going to run into. It’s a little bit bullshit, basically.