In a year of innovative games that didn’t quite survive the landing or superpolished blockbusters that left me cold, I’ve found it increasingly important to prioritize my heart picks when it comes to contenders for Game of the Year. In 2022, Hindsight was that game for me.
I’d argue that when many indie games feel compelled, sometimes scathingly, to make players cry, it’s gotten harder to find a game that can get you in the emotions. Hindsight also has the unfortunate position of being the second Annapurna Interactive joint to be released this year, focusing on a similarly contradictory parent-child relationship, though the premise is immediately more heartbreaking given the protagonist Mary’s introspective journey through is triggered the sudden news of her mother’s passing. However, the images conjured up make it one of the most cinematic experiences of the year.
I don’t mean cinematic in the Hollywood or MCU style, but rather the lyrical art house fare that’s often smaller yet still grapples with big themes of time and the human condition. The dreamlike cinema of Wong Kar Wai and Terence Malick comes to mind, not only because both filmmakers tend to rely on voiceover narration to articulate their characters’ inner workings, much like Mary. One of Wong’s signature styles is playing with his characters’ perception of time, using edits to speed up, slow down, or even repeat what we see.
And this despite the fact that Hindsight’s most important and probably only mechanic is more connected to photography. With free camera control, rotate around tableaus of Mary’s memories until a glowing object catches your attention, or rather, another image appears like a double exposure. These hidden openings in the scene magically transport you from one memory to the next. It’s essentially like a matchstick cut in the movie, which is the core mechanic of another very cinematic game this year, Immortality, by the way. Sometimes there is a direct association or a deliberate juxtaposition, sometimes no clear correlation at all. But isn’t that how memory works? Various fragments of our life reappear unexpectedly, just as a train of thought can end up somewhere else entirely.
But back to the dreamlike auteur films: Malick and his semi-autobiographical masterpiece “The Tree of Life” have the most parallels in terms of narrative. Hindsight doesn’t retreat entirely to contemplate the beginning of space and time or dinosaurs, but his images convey a lifetime and then back to a newborn’s first cries before focusing on a quaint suburban home, complete with porch and tire swing , which becomes the emotional battlefield between parent and child.
I realize I’m spending more words here writing about cinema when I should be focusing on games. I think that’s partly because Hindsight shares a spot with films and shows that have impressed me the most this year, from Pixar’s Turning Red to sci-fi drama After Yang to Apple TV+’s multi-generational saga Pachinko and the sublime and ridiculous Everything Everywhere at once. Regardless of genre or medium, these works each have something to say about the immigrants’ Asian experiences, the intergenerational and cross-cultural conflicts that ensued, but also that simple yet powerful realization that those who have long been a part of their lives have own lives that have always been there, even if you are just beginning to understand.
Download at: https://www.eurogamer.net/games-of-2022-hindsight-was-the-best-for-invoking-the-brilliance-of-terence-malick-and-wong-kar-wai