A simple word that defines human interaction. The emotions that go along with such an act are perhaps what we are all searching for at some point in our lives. These feeling can manifest themselves in all parts of existence and serve to bring us closer to one another, emotionally , spiritually and physically.
Bientot l’ete is a game about connection.
A French phrase meaning “It’s nearly summer”, Bientot l’ete focuses on a man or a woman depending on the player’s choice with the environment being a cafe on the shore of a beach. It can be inferred through the two different sight modes that this is merely a virtual world which is another layer of abstraction that serves to allude to the depth of thought developer Tale of Tales is trying to impress on the player.
After the initial gender choice you are transported onto the aforementioned beach with no objective. As you begin to explore you will inevitably come across cryptic phrases scattered near the waves. They have little to no meaning until you stumble across the only building in the game, a cafe. Upon entering you have the choice to wait for a random person to connect or you can simply play against the computer. Only after making this choice do you realize you will be playing a game of chess. “Playing” is a generous way to describe it. The game play is a series of responses with/to the various phrases you have found on the beach. How much a player can let themselves be immersed in these existential questions and answers is directly equivalent to how much they will enjoy the game. “I chase the image of your body lost in the darkness of the sea.” and “Sometimes I believe that to love is to see. To see you.” are just a few examples. Personally I thought this was interesting and brought back some memories in my life but never became very compelling to do. There is a cigarette and glass of wine you can partake in if you choose which serves to set the mood of the encounter.
If this sounds incredibly abstract, it’s because it is.
Visually the game is colorful and expresses this through its succession of day and night. Looking out across the beach during a sunset may be the best metaphor for describing what this game aims to do: that quiet and distant light over the solemn waves rekindling a far-off memory of a past relationship.
The existential ponderings that Bientot l’ete raises only serve to bring about more questions without answers. Although it struggles to be a game it succeeds in evoking an emotion, doing what a piece of art is intended. But as the French would say:
C’est la vie.