I read about this game in my favorite video games magazine where it was portrayed as a mediocre platforming game. The focus of the article was the nonexistent dying in the game, because the game would do anything for you not to die.
Doesn't sound very intriguing for a hardcore Dark Souls fan like myself.
I would never have paid it any attention if it weren't for it turning up on the list of VR games available for PlayStation VR. Let it be mediocre, I thought to myself, I just want the VR experience. So I clicked the buy button and started up the game.
I found a game that was almost VR broken, as if you've taken a game that was not intended for VR and just made it VR compatible. It was horrible, and just as I expected, the platforming was not very interesting. The world looked interesting but unpleasant. Not a world I would want to spend any extended amount of time in.
If I buy a game I play it until the end. So I struggled through, forcing myself to play it, until I realized - this is not a platform game. That was when I pulled the VR plug.
It all hit home at the same time. After having a shitty day with my sons, being really irritated with them, the game showed me the perspective of a child that tries to reach out to its parent and the parent responds with "leave me alone".
I realized that I'd been such a lousy parent that whole day and what my sons really wanted was love and confirmation, something I wasn't in the state of mind to give them. Realizing this, I broke down and cried.
I understood now what this game was trying to do. It was portraying the memories of growing up with absent parents, that wasn't comforting, whose every interaction was of pain, yelling, nagging, weighing and abandonment. And to protect herself, the protagonist starts to dance, in order to shut out all that hurts.
This really connects with me, how I myself always used tools to shut out the things that hurts. I've played the guitar to stop thinking. Video games to numb away the feelings. I also used programming as a way to focus on a task to shut out that thing that is hurting me - would it be parents, a failing relationship or children that demands more than I have to give.
So, this is not a platform game. The platforming elements of this game is there to ease the telling of a story and to convey the feelings. There is no way that dying in this game helps the story to progress. To overcome a level in this game is getting through another bad experience of growing up, and in the end it makes you feel free of it. The protagonist rips the memory out of the notebook to symbolize being done with it and moving on.
And I think we all can become better if we stop, reflect and move on. So I spend the next day with my sons, giving them all of what they need of me, and in response I get their love and affection.
That is a video game worth playing.