Bernband was a short, interesting exploratory game. For readers who don’t know, it’s a short game by Tom that drops you into an alien world (they’re called the Pff, so good) where you can run around and watch aliens be aliens. That’s the whole game. I will say upfront that there were some perspective issues for me (motion sickness), and once or twice, I ended up in places I couldn’t find my way out of.
This is the closest thing to a literal walking simulator I’ve ever played, and as such, I spent a chunk of time determining the limits — I jumped on tables aliens were sitting at, I jumped in front of cars, I jumped up on the bar, etc. The aliens ignored me entirely. I think “ghost simulator” might be the better label.
I am a voyeur at heart, I could watch forever. But a distinct advantage to real life watching is that it’s less algorithmic. While I love the idea behind Bernband, and even the name, I think this is the variety of game that would be almost impossible to do well: it would have to be high budget for a very niche audience. It makes up for the fatal flaw of being rather obviously computational by being both short and free (or, I guess, exactly as long as you want it to be). I notice the game developer comments that it’s family friendly, and I like to think children would have a different experience than I did, one in which the Pff really seemed quite alien.
Nonetheless, the game is ambitious both in terms of “what is art/what is a game” and also in terms of world building. I’m glad I played.