“Art games” have a somewhat polarising reputation among the broader gaming community. Some love how far creators are willing to stretch the definition of “game” in order to tell a story or explore a theme; others feel like these titles are a boring waste of time.
I’ve gone back and forth a bit on this over the years, but one thing most art games have in common is that they tend to de-emphasise mechanical depth and complexity in favour of telling their story. In some of the most well-regarded cases, you don’t even really “do” anything; you just walk forwards while a story passively washes over you.
198X is a bit different. It’s definitely an art game — or perhaps it’s more accurate to call it a short, animated, pixel-art film — but unlike many of its peers, it’s designed to be satisfying and enjoyable to play as well as to emotionally engage with. Let’s take a closer look.
One of the great things about modern gaming is the sheer diversity of experiences you can have from one moment to the next.
If you’re in the mood for hacking and slashing through hordes of enemies as the cute girl personification of a video games console, gaming has you covered. If you fancy taking photos of spooky scary ghosts in a creepy old mansion, well, there’s a game for that, too — several, in fact.
But what about if you just fancy chilling out in a nice quiet coffee shop, enjoying the company of a few good friends and leaving all the troubles of the world outside for an hour or two? Sure, you could pop down your local Costa if you can face leaving the house… or you could settle in for an evening with Coffee Talk, a thoroughly pleasant story-centric game from Indonesian developer Toge Productions.