Title: Leaving Lyndow
Developer: Eastshade Studios
Publisher: Eastshade Studios
Available Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows PC, MacOS
Reviewed On: PlayStation 4
I went into Leaving Lyndow with absolutely no expectations. To be perfectly honest, I only wanted to give myself a break from the intensity that was Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. Raging against Nazis for several hours, and doing it poorly, I may add, was taking its toll. My playthrough of Leaving Lyndow was a welcomed breath of fresh air. Not only did I find a quiet narrative that was as relatable as it was bittersweet, but I traversed environments that were both charming and vibrant from beginning to end.
Leaving Lyndow joins the ever-growing collection of walking simulators, and while the game doesn’t necessarily add anything new to the genre, it still manages to carve out a small place for itself. The premise is simple. In the first-person, you play as a young girl named Clara, who has just been accepted into the Guild of Scientific Exploration and will assume the role of Junior Marine Researcher. Before her boat sets sail, though, Clara must spend the last day on her island packing up and saying goodbye to friends and family, all while revisiting places that carry sentimental meaning for her.
As Leaving Lyndow is a walking simulator, exploration is encouraged, but within reason. The areas that Clara ventures to are confined and won’t allow you to stray too far off the course. Once you enter your chosen area- be it The Teahouse, or The Forest, or Uncle’s Farm- you aren’t allowed to leave that area for the next one until Clara has finished everything she needs to do. This lack of freedom can be off-putting to players who are accustomed to walking simulators that are traditionally more open.
Sometimes it’s unclear what still needs to be finished in an area, especially if you feel like you have observed everything already. Unfinished tasks could be anything from having a conversation with someone to playing a melody on a set of chimes. Though there isn’t much room to get turned around in any given location, it can be tedious to trek back to find whatever you missed the first time, which makes the game sluggish in some parts.
There are several objects, indicated by a lit circle, that Clara can interact with. These objects trigger memories or flashbacks for her, but player interference in these moments is reduced to a more passive role.
In Leaving Lyndow, the narrative is mostly driven by text-based dialogue and commentary, along with players being able to select Clara’s responses during conversations. Though these options don’t alter the narrative in any way, it’s still great to see Clara’s personality come to life with each interaction she has with different characters. She’s hardworking, but knows how to have fun. She’s modest, but is able to recognize her accomplishments and hold them in perspective. Despite negative comments from family and acquaintances, she’s still determined to venture outside her comfort zone and leave her mark on the world. Maybe I’m reading too deeply into this, but I was moved by Clara’s resilience and the courage to leave her comfort zone to achieve her dreams.
It’s a beautiful, simplistic story that was even more enhanced by the music, which was, hands down, one of the best elements of this game. The music works in tandem with each location you visit, creating the right mood and invoking the right sentiments in the player. It’s whimsical and infused with adventure, with powerful crescendos in all the right moments.
To be such a short game, Leaving Lyndow has seven trophies that can be collected, with one or two that can offer a challenge. Only two trophies can be collected by naturally progressing through the game. The puzzles are light, and though they aren’t the focus of Clara’s story, they still offer a lackluster experience that does little, if anything, for the game.
The great thing about Leaving Lyndow is that it doesn’t overstay its welcome. It does what it set out to accomplish, as you can only have Clara walk around so much before it becomes repetitive. The game can easily be finished in under an hour depending on how much or how little you explore your surroundings. My own playthrough came in a little over the one-hour mark (I really liked those chimes, okay?)
If you’re looking for a short walking simulator, Leaving Lyndow is worth playing, if only to experience an endearing story with excellent music. The game is also set in the same universe as Eastshade Studios’ upcoming title, adequately named Eastshade.