V is for Virginia

Virginia is an interesting game in that it rarely feels like a game. From the opening menu to the final credits, it feels much more like you are playing a movie. Many games try to replicate the ‘cinematic’ feel, few succeed in this goal as well as Virginia.

Inspired by FBI noir stories such as Twin Peaks and The X-Files, the developers have crafted an intriguing mystery set in Virginia in 1992. Presented in first person, you play as FBI agent Anne Tarver, simultaneously tasked with solving the disappearance of a boy from his home in Kingdom, Virginia, as well as investigating your partner for potential violations of bureau policy.

One potentially divisive decision that was made was to forgo voice acting entirely. The story is told solely through music and the imagery on the screen. Documents you find help illuminate the reasons for both investigations, but there is no spoken dialogue. Personally, I found this choice very effective in creating immersion so that you the player can really get into the mystery and trying to figure out what’s really happening.

The David Lynch vibes are very strong throughout. Several scenes take place in a diner, prominently displaying the special of coffee and pie. (Hello Twin Peaks!) Without spoiling any of the story, there are also elements of surrealism and questioning reality that also echo Lynch’s work. Another more recent example on television that has a similar vibe is Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal.

I’ll be honest, when the credits rolled, I wasn’t exactly sure what had just happened, and I’m still thinking about it more than a week later. This is a game that will reward playing it multiple times. It’s not overly long either. It’s cinematic in more ways than one, clocking in at around two hours to play, start to finish. If you’re looking for a mind-bending interactive colorful trip, look no further. Visit lovely Virginia.

 

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