There have always been games whose exact genre has been the subject of debate, and whose qualification as games has been questioned. Recently, so-called walking simulators — interactive stories without a fail state — have entered this niche. AENTITY, developed and published by ARQUOIA, offers such an experience — albeit with no actual walking.
At its core, AENTITY is an exploration game. The world you explore consist of shapes and forms, colours and shadows. The only truly discernible presence are the figures that inhabit this swirl of light paint. Although the world of AENTITY has some bounds and limits, they are mostly invisible, outside of the periphery of perception. Instead, it is your movement that can be seen, seen as lines and blurs.
This fairly unique stylistic choice is even reflected in AENTITY’s settings. Instead of a traditional difficulty setting, where higher levels add more enemies or provide you with fewer resources, the game intensifies the artistic assault on the player. While this does indeed make navigation more difficult, it also alters AENTITY’s overall appearance.
As confusing as this may all look and sound, AENTITY is not a journey without a goal. Aside from exploration, your aim is to fill a gallery with art. To this end, you are provided with a couple of tools. Apart from basic movement, you have the ability to “hypnotise” the entities found in AENTITY ‘s world of art.
Catching entities like this opens up new paths. These paths will not always be restricted to two dimensions, making orientation in AENTITY even more difficult. Additionally, these stick figures function as waypoints of sorts, and can even be summoned with a help key.
AENTITY‘s unusual appearance and the abstract nature of its goal and gameplay make the game difficult to conquer, but not necessarily difficult to enjoy. Getting lost in the shapes and colours is part of the experience — which, depending on your stance, may be a more appropriate description for the game.
The aesthetics resemble a mix between ink blots and a Windows 95 maze screensaver. The closest relative AENTITY may have is possibly LSD — A Dream Emulator, if only for the bizarreness and experimental nature they share.
Whether or not this is appealing is highly subjective, and the same can be said for the gameplay. Those who expect a straight challenge will be disappointed. However, if you enjoy the dreamy journey and the aesthetics are enough to keep you going, then you are in good hands.