Everything challenges the ideas of "playing" and "winning" a game in a fascinating universe.
Imagine that you had the ability to change into an object around you, to become it—another life form, like a deer or a squirrel or a tree. Imagine that you could focus on the blade of grass bending beneath a purple tulip and, suddenly, become the grass—or the tulip. And, as the blade of grass, you could "walk," moving around the landscape, singing and listening to the songs of the grass and the squirrels and the pollen and the clouds.
Herd of rhinos. (PS4)
Everything, a new game by David OReilly, promises such wonder and delivers it spectacularly. Download the game on Steam for PC, Mac or Linux or on PS4 to enter a universe, narrated by Alan Watts, in which "everything is within everything else" and "everything listens to everything else sing".
Everything drops you onto a planet as a rhinoceros, or a fox, or a maple tree, or anything else, really, left to wander and wonder at the strange behavior of the world around you. "Walking" as your rhino is absolutely hilarious. What ridiculous, ingenious idea led to this method of flipping head over heels to move? Immense praise is due to the game's creator for this action. While you're flipping, follow the game's advice and experience the beauty, mystery and majesty of the computer-generated world.
Ice continent. (PS4)
Thought bubbles signal a "thing" that has something to say: a tree philosophizing or a pebble rambling. The occasional segment from a seminar by Watts deepens the philosophical musings of the game and encourages the most open interpretations of the gameplay, of the story and of life, itself.
Everything slowly reveals its incredible features as different "things" share new gameplay functions. The game's most outstanding ability: scaling the world around you when you transform into a thing of a different size. Transforming and scaling work in both directions: you can "descend" from an elephant to an antelope to a caterpillar to a fly to a dust particle and downward to vastly smaller scales that I won't spoil here. Inversely, "ascend" from a blue whale to a continent to a planet and upward to staggeringly massive things. In the style of No Man's Sky, other, procedurally-generated planets present new and alien environments to explore, complete with unusual organisms and bizarre weather patterns.
Soaring whales. (PS4)
Ascending and descending are the keys to unlocking more gameplay actions and the source of the game's power. Beyond the cryptic and slightly esoteric Watts seminar and the often-bizarre thoughts of the game-world, transforming and exploring the different levels of reality are infinitely fascinating adventures. You'll be surprised by how exciting it is to wander through a city as a crumpled cigarette butt, how adventurous to explore the atmosphere of a green planet as a towering cumulonimbus cloud.
Lost penguin. (PS4)
A beginner's hint: don't forget about that strange yellow thing sitting quietly where you first spawn. You might need it later.
Behind the stunning, screenshot-ready environments and magnificent shots of dancing—yes, dancing will probably be one of your favorite actions—Everything plays a gorgeous, ethereal soundtrack by Ben Lukas Boysen. An extra dollar on Steam will buy you a DRM-free download of the soundtrack. Or you can purchase a copy on vinyl.
Everything's "Sunken Place"/"Upside-Down." (PS4)
OReilly previously worked on the game, Mountain, in which you are a mountain. Your computer or iOS device displays a mountain, living and talking, and you simply "be" it, whatever that means to you. Even before Mountain, OReilly designed the fictional games in Spike Jonze's movie, Her. To quote a talkative blade of grass in Everything, "I guess this is 'it'… I guess I expected something else, now I'm disappointed." Playing this game, you will never agree with this blade of grass. There is no disappointment; there is only everything.