I didn’t go camping much as a kid. I remember going during a handful of summers with a friend of mine from school. We’d do all the camping things — talk with her dad, cook in a fire, explore the camp. Wide Ocean Big Jacket perfectly captures this experience, all from the point of view of some, maybe, 12-year-olds.
Mord has been invited on a weekend camping trip with her uncle and aunt. She brought her friend/new-boyfriend Ben. Ben is a pretty timid character, a nerdy kid that’s afraid of the dark but good at telling stories and keeping Mord company. Mord is pretty outspoken on the other hand, quick to say whatever comes to her mind. Her uncle and aunt don’t have kids and sometimes talk about being unsure if they are doing the right thing in watching these two.
Wide Ocean Big Jacket has you playing as all of the characters, switching between them as the story progresses. My focus was the children, but I also was able to birdwatch with the aunt, drink beer and purchase logs as the uncle and hear from the group when they are all together. Often the player you control switches without your direct control — so you can then take a bit of the story from their point of view. Conversations, however, are chosen by you when you decide if you want to talk to people. This makes the game feel more like a movie with interactions, as you are able to progress the story but at the same time aren’t directly controlling where the story goes or who you even are.
Personality is a big focus in Wide Ocean Big Jacket — each character has their own personality which is further highlighted when it comes to conversation. When a character is talking, the entire screen turns black with just an icon of their face and what they are saying under it. I found this to really help focus on the words and attitudes of the characters speaking, as that was literally all that was there to focus on. The words on the screen come in short sentences, so it’s not like a wall of text on a black screen — it’s a great way of delivering a story.
I really loved the personalities of the two kids, planning to sneak off to the beach at night and cooking hotdogs with so much drive, interacting with adults by asking questions that kids do, indeed, asking quite bluntly. It’s a very well-written story when it comes to dynamics. The game itself is also just happy feeling. It’s a happy camping trip where a group of happy people have come together to just enjoy the woods.
This game will warm your heart, bring a smile to your face, and deliver a great little story that feels emotionally rewarding to work through.