There are some things I just waaaant. I waaaaaaaaaaaaant them. And one of those things is David OReilly's new game, Everything.
I first saw OReilly's work in his short animated film, Please Say Something. I think it was part of a night of short films hosted by the truly superb little movie theater Upstate Films in Rhinebeck, NY. (I was working at an outdoor adventure camp for special needs kids down the way, and, though it was maybe the best job I ever had, spending a couple of hours sitting alone in the dark was a true blessing.)
On that particular evening, some Upstate Film employee pulled out a literal Blu-Ray disk they had burned at home and popped it in to the projector. I don't remember any of the other films from that night, but I remember Please Say Something.
It's a beautiful short film, hyper-stylized and leaning into the aesthetics of glitch culture, while also tackling some major themes on abuse and sadness. It's gorgeous and heart-breaking. I was immediately in love.
You can watch it yourself:
His work has popped up now and again in the cultural landscape. OReilly directed & animated an episode of Adventure Time: the gloriously non-cannon A Glitch is a Glitch. I've watched his other short films (which never quite jumped the bar set by Please Say Something). I said literally out loud, "OH, IT'S THAT GUY," when his name scrolled by on the credits for Her (OReilly designed and animated the game that whats-his-name plays at some point or another).
However, in the video game world, he's probably most known for developing Mountain.
In Mountain, the player watches a singular floating mountain. Trees grow. Seasons change. The sun rises and sets. There are no controls. There is really nothing. You are the mountain. Things happen. Time passes. Nothing is in your control. Play-through is about 50 hours.
Mountain was one of those games where everyone asks, "IS THIS A GAME, THOUGH?" and frets about it until they can fret no more.
OReilly chooses a singular quote to feature on Mountain's website:
"It's fucking nothing" — Total Biscuit
Oreilly's newest game, Everything, was released on PS4 earlier this month, and it has kicked up the same sort of "WHAT IS THIS" hand-wringing.
Everything promises the player just that: to play as anything in the known universe. From zooplankton to galaxies, the player transfers control from object to object, sometimes building up little parades of otherwise disparate items into a pseduo-Katamari collection. By all accounts, Everything runs wide and meandering, artful and contemplative.
There are some games that elicit striking similar responses in reviews, and (generally speaking), the response to Everything is, "It's not a game! Wait, we mean it is a game! Wait, we mean: do we even care what 'games' are anymore? Wait, we mean: Please, just let us be because we're trying our best and just want to play games. Wait, this isn't a game..." and so on.
Everything comes to PC and Mac on April 21, and I absolutely cannot wait. Anything that makes people question the arbitrary titles we foist upon media (or objects, or people) is A-OK in my book.