Illegally Open Letters To Decide Fate: Fakteur

Fakteur

It’s easy to forget the power mailmen have over our lives. I often think back to Newman on Seinfeld, touting mailmen’s information banks as somewhat akin to the modern internet. We could wait days for an electric bill or balding cream, but if the mailman is bitter over not receiving his artificially tasting chocolate-covered cherries last Christmas, those products may never see the light of day.

Channeling this godlike power is the premise of Fakteur, which I’ve just learned is French for “mailman.” Much love to indiegames.com for finding this one. I also love stunted, one-word titles that epitomize a game’s subject, but allow for extensive elaboration beyond that premise.

What immediately drew my eye to Fakteur is the paper-crafted world. Trekking along on your bike, picturesque, white picket fences and casually grazing cows quickly pop into existence as you continue down the road. Each new frame unfolds like a pop-up book. Every stop on your route goes through a meticulously crafted sequence where stony sidewalks and flowing streams emerge into existence. Easily manipulated, the setting’s material backdrop serves as a fitting metaphor for your actual actions in the game.

Fakteur

As I referenced above, mailmen really can act as primitive information spewers. Realistically, they could decide whether the letter you get about your grandparents’ will ever comes or is instead delivered to your brother. Fakteur explores this concept through manipulation of four different people’s letters. Paying attention to each specific character’s demeanor and comments plays a key part of how you choose to approach their messages. Once you’ve delivered your mail for the day, you see a series of letters you can choose from for the following day’s route.

Each one contains variations that could range from a family death to his merely visiting for dinner. Early letters contained less diverse choices, making your first decisions slightly less impactful on your citizens’ lives. Once you reach the end of the week, you may be deciding whether someone actually lives or dies. It’s a disturbing ramp up. Initially, I merely tried to shield people from sad news as long as possible, but some later decisions pose no positive outcome.

Fakteur

I was ecstatic to try and brighten one despondent, mute character’s day with each letter, but her in-game demeanor never really demonstrated any excitement on her part. One storyline didn’t seem to have any particularly enjoyable ways to help her through life. It felt distressing and a little limiting as a player. Yet, sometimes in life, good news seems like a distant unrealistic memory in the wake of tragedy. None of the characters actually exuded much personality through their stoic paragraph responses, but their feelings are portrayed through the environment surrounding them.


Easily manipulated, the setting’s material backdrop serves as a fitting metaphor for your actual actions in the game.


I’ve chosen to inform a women her one-time lover is a prisoner. Lush greens turn to depressing, muted orange overtones. Moods have always corresponded with colors, making the choice to indicate their feelings through a simple color change all the more smart. Limiting design so the player can make their own assumptions is always an appealing approach for me. After you’ve finished the week’s route, you travel through the world and peruse the impact you’ve had on it.

Forcing players to contemplate their decisions through passive exploration without having the game shove consequences in your face is an appealing new trend. Hotline Miami’s exits felt far more affecting, but seeing a once-beautiful home turn horrifically ashen in the wake of my simple deliveries is an impressive alternative. Fakteur posits that even someone as inocuous as a mailman can have a vital impact on your life. It’s a refreshing reminder to not only keep your mailman happy, but also contemplate the consequences of seemingly innocent acts.

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