There’s not a lot to Everything, the sandbox game created by David O’Reilly and published by Double Fine Presents, whose description boasts that it “will give you a new perspective on life.”. There’s not much to discuss in terms of the gameplay mechanics, which consist of exploring various macro and microcosms of the universe while inhabiting animals, plants, atoms, shapes, buildings, continents, galaxies and, well, see the title. Each of these can move, make sounds, gather or release more of themselves nearby, and dance. You can find snippets of text uttered by other elements in the landscape, and there are audio recordings by the late philosopher Alan Watts. There’s not much more to it than that. The visuals aren’t breathtaking but are very much suited to the game’s purpose, the score is excellent, and the grainy, lo-fi sound of Alan Watts’ voice smoothly eases you through the entire experience.
But, in terms of the ideas behind it, Everything has a weighty message to impart. This is made clear from the beginning, when it asks for your name. It speaks to you directly as the game proceeds, prompting you to form your own opinions from the scattered bits of text, to connect the themes underlying Alan Watts’ lectures and to draw from them your own conclusions as to the nature of life and reality. There’s an awful lot to digest in this regard, more than can be processed in one sitting. Especially when your attention is split between comprehending these philosophical musings and exploring the entirety of existence. Here is where the autoplay and documentary modes shine, allowing you to leave a playlist running of all of the lectures you’ve collected so far while the camera jumps between panoramic views of landscapes and various things going about their business. It’s running in the background as I type this.
It took about three hours to beat the game, insofar as the term applies. But I’ll probably start a new one before long. While it’s not an inherently transformative gameplay experience, there are genuine life lessons therein that will pertain to a lot of people. Not a bad deal for €14.