Playing god is a classic gaming trope: simulators like Sid Meier's Sims give players the opportunity to lord over fictional worlds, manipulating variables and exhibiting some kind of control over the gaming environment at large. This ensuing sense of control is what draws people to many video game titles. You can't play god in David O'Reilly's Everything, but you can play as basically everything else: goats, birds, planets, even the HIV virus.
O'Reilly's portfolio is eclectic: he's an award-winning film-maker and animator; he has worked as a writer on South Park and he directed the video-game segments in Spike Jonze's Her; he also directed a trippy episode of Adventure Time titled "A Glitch Is A Glitch" (Editor's note: Flying Lotus made a brilliantly frenetic song for the episode's closing credits, too.) The Irish-born O'Reilly has also written extensively on the matter of aesthetics in animation.
Everything's spiritual predecessor is O'Reilly's previous gaming installation, Mountain, a game where players answer three prompts and are then given a mountain avatar and, well, that's about it, really. Players can watch the mountain rotate in space, play a couple twinkly piano notes, and the mountain will occasionally offer thoughts about the time and weather. Gamers and critics alike were befuddled and confounded by the game's seeming absence of traditional mechanics: there are no missions, no enemies, no arc to speak of. According to O'Reilly, Mountain might just be "the most-downloaded, most-installed installation ever made."
Everything is infinitely more active than Mountain and staggering in its ambition. If anyone is playing god with this release, it's O'Reilly: the game boasts over 3,000 individual playable models, each with color variations and additional taxonomies. Many of the characters' movements are rough, slipshod, hilarious in their inaccuracy to real life — this is part ...
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