Length: About 5 minutes
Devices: Desktop, OSX and Windows
Simogo’s The Sensational December Machine is a charming fiction piece that delivers a fresh perspective on multimedia storytelling. With a thoughtful short story at its core, the piece essentially takes the concept of a storybook and rethinks it for the digital age.
Set in a society where people use “all kinds of clever machines,” this piece follows an inventive woman who “was born with an eternal longing” to touch people’s hearts. In other words, everyone else’s machines are simply practical tools, but our protagonist desires to create a machine that will make people feel.
It’s a fairytale-like story that’s complemented well by atmospheric music and a 3D environment. Interestingly enough, the environment is filled with 2D artwork, a choice that helps create the piece’s storybook aesthetic. Last but not least, the music evolves as you progress through the story – and how cool is that?
The interactivity in this piece is simple: A left click proceeds through the story, whereas a right click sends you backwards. Given this little amount of control, the piece’s world feels especially intriguing – you really wish you could go off the story’s rails and explore it a bit more.
Simogo, an indie game developer, has other great literary projects in its catalog in addition to The Sensational December Machine. Their creations include The Sailor’s Dream and the digital novella Device 6, one of our favorite projects, which won an Apple Design Award in 2014.
Simogo’s projects can often feel less like games and more like interactive literary experiences; The Sensational December Machine is a nice part of that tradition. It’s also interesting to note their approach to digital storytelling and how it differs to that of, say, Inanimate Alice.
Both Inanimate Alice and The Sensational December Machine operate on the same general premise – a text, artwork, music, and elements of interactivity – but it’s exciting to see how radically different their outcomes are (Inanimate Alice was also conceived years ago, but I think the broader point of diversity in digital fiction stands).
It’s hard to not see a bit of Simogo in the protagonist of The Sensational December Machine; like her, they try to create things that make people feel emotions – they try to make art. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but It’s a noble goal, and we’re happy to have another developer experimenting with the written word on the radar.