Waking Demo Impressions | A Thought-Provoking Journey
Few games out there blend two pivotal aspects of my life into a haunting, yet beautiful experience. It’s that unique phase of my yoga/meditation life blended into gaming. That is where Waking by Jason Oda comes into play.
Browsing through emails with coffee in hand, I run across the headline: Waking is a game that will invoke your deepest memories. A little dense, I thought, but intriguing enough to garner a click through in the early hours. As I read further, I was hooked. There are few things more attention grabbing than blending two passions of yours together, if only there were a demo to check it out. Oh, look at that; there is!
You play the title character that is in a coma and, while your physical body is in a vegtative state, the same cannot be said for your subconscious. In the dreamlike state, you will come across all that you’ve personally experienced throughout your life: the highs, the lows and the in-between moments. Questions are posed to you, like what is your biggest fear, favorite memory and so on. But, with these intensely prodding questions, there is indeed a purpose.
After the question sequences, there is a section for irl meditation. The screen literally prompts you to close your eyes in preparation for meditation. This experience is something I’ve yet to feel in any other game. Never has one transitioned to a real life experience. I’ve experienced various forms of meditation such as, TM (transcendental meditation), Gassho Meditation (created via the Reiki practice), sound bath meditations and a few others. If you’ve done a meditation via Headspace or any similar app, it will feel quite familiar. However, the connection between your life, and the gameplay is quite unique. It adds a bit of levity and power to the meditation, especially if you haven’t experienced meditation before. Meditation, in itself, is immensely challenging, but the way it is laid out here appears to be in bite-sized portions near perfectly split with gameplay interspersed.
You battle your own demons via telekinesis powers: physically manifesting your knowledge, memories and beliefs as weapons. There’s a gameplay loop of learning the above traits, and stunning a character and then going in for a few quick attacks. The garishness of the enemies you face perfectly encapsulates the contrast between life and death, this same idea of which spreads throughout the environments.
The fighting sequences were surprisingly challenging at times, but they seem more like a vector to the thought-provoking story that lies beneath. By no means are the “action” sequences bad, I just think the story-based pieces are so well done it might seem that way.
Look for a review of Waking shortly after launch.