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103: corridors, candles and clues

We’ve all had nights out with mates where we’ve done crazy things we’d rather forget, particularly back when we were teenagers during our college years. The feeling of invincibility that comes with being young and largely free of real responsibility (combined with, in my case, a few too many luminous Bacardi Breezers) can lead to situations where you only regretfully realise the consequences of your actions the morning afterwards.

This is what has happened to Lily in 103 (possibly without the influence of so many fluorescent alcoholic drinks), a college student trying to remember what happened during a night out with her friends. This exploration title by Dystopia Interactive caught my eye on Kickstarter recently while I was over there backing the campaign for The Procession to Calvary. It was the announcement trailer that did it: the long corridors lit by candles seemed like a place I’d want to investigate.

The game is set in Lily’s mind, a world built from both her memories and things she has tried to forget; everything up until the event of the night which changed her life. She has never been quite like other people and since she was a child, her wild imagination has given her ability to create her own home in her head. But things are different and our protagonist doesn’t feel safe here any longer. There is something lurking underneath that which she has hidden, a suppressed memory that only the player can help her remember.

It’s up to us to aid Lily by simply looking at objects to piece together the story: the more you observe the environment, the more you uncover. The short gameplay trailer released a couple of weeks ago shows how reading messages displayed on the walls in her imagination progresses the plot with simple riddles given to the player through picture frames. It seems like the sort of title where I’d happily take my time looking at all of the objects in the environment and pondering over how they came to be there, similar to my approach with Gone Home.

According to the Steam page, 103 will take most players between two to three hours to complete. Dystopia Interactive say their project focuses on having a smaller, detailed environment to explore and like to think of it as ‘a mystery game of I Spy driven by storytelling’. The older I get, the more I seem to enjoy shorter narrative experiences like this; they tend to fit in much better with adult responsibilities and long days at work, when a sprawling RPG with hundreds of hours of gameplay can feel daunting.

103 (also known as One Zero Three) is due to be released on PC, Mac and Linux in December this year and in the meantime, you can find out more by checking out the Kickstarter campaign or official website. Just steer clear of those Bacardi Breezers.

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