A Game Without Play? Solace Consists Of Just Concept Art And Music


Due to the release of musical exploration game Proteus just the other day, a debate has kicked up online about whether it’s a game or not. Which it is, of course. And then there’s a tangential debate that seems to be trying to put it into a sub-category of games for some reason, mostly because of this article. Is it an anti-game, an alt-game or maybe a notgame? Art game, perhaps?! The result is that Ed Key, developer of Proteus, has written up some thoughts of his own on the whole thing to ensure that his view is made a clear – worth a read.

So how about this one, then? The question: is Solace a game? The answer: a game is whatever we want the medium to be, and the developer of Solace, Tettix, has decided to say of it that it is “a game you will never get to play.” And there was me thinking a few weeks back that Trifolium may push the elusive boundaries of what constitutes to its absolute limit – we’ll always keep pushing in whatever direction we’re facing, it would seem. So what is Solace made up of, then, if there is no play at all?


Well, for a long time, I’ve been saying that I always wanted to play the concept art for many a game because it’s so stylish, attractive or imaginative. Most of the time, the game that is born from the concept art never matches the visual depiction; something is always lost in translation. Solace is what I always asked for. There are levels, or rather we should describe them as worlds, but they’re depicted merely as a single piece of artwork. Absolutely stunning artwork, mind, and each of image realized from listening to music that Tettix himself composed first and then built up from what came to mind. So what you do is listen to the music and look at the accompanying art, which is rendered in a form that seems to suggest gameplay.

So perhaps this is the gameplay, if you will, as Tettix puts it: “I see the composition and concepts of the game with great clarity. But you can imagine whatever you like.” Imagining how the game would play out is the game itself, no?

All In The Mind


Having just ‘played’ Solace, I will say that what becomes apparent is that the vibes and rhythm certainly help to stimulate the idea of gameplay. Obviously, this isn’t a natural occurence; you have to actively looking to connect the audiovisual elements into a game form. And like Trifolium, it all takes place within your head. If you’re willing to engage in this experience and form game ideas in your head, then you imagine movement between each screen and you may start to put together something that resembles a game.

In my game of Solace was a mixture of exploration, shooting and platforming elements that I saw across each of the worlds. The atmosphere of level changed based on the tones of the colors and the pace of the music and the pitch it was playing at. It was almost like a gaming orchestra – a grand epic too. Pacing changed quite drastically at times between each world. The overall piece and each level could work as a game, certainly. And it was based on the kind of game I would want this to be, and of my previous experience with playing games. It would be interesting, perhaps, to see what those who don’t play games would come up with if asked to just put together something in their head based on what they see and hear. Whatever they do will no doubt be able to be turned into a game, even though they may not think of it as a game in the traditional sense.

I’d actually encourage developers to attempt to develop a game like this. Write the music first and then get the artist to make some mock-ups based on their inspirations from the music. With both of these elements combined, sit there and try to see the game evolve before you and then go make that game. Would be a very interesting way to go about things, and a very enjoyable one at that.

Thanks to The Verge for bringing this to our attention!

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