Is there anything sadder than a blind kitten? Yet Wanderment, a new indie game by developer Andrew Wang, makes the journey of a blind kitten across town into one of the joyous, magical interactive experiences you can have on a computer. It feels like the sort of game Hayao Miyazaki would have made if he’d been born in the computer age.
The premise of Wanderment is very simple. You play a blind kitten who is trying to get to a friend across town. You can’t see, but you can sense the world around you by jumping, running, brushing up against things, and feeling. And this is where Wanderment becomes more than just a black browser window of a game, because every time your kitten senses his surroundings, the world explodes in a rainbow-hued burst of particles, outlining the geometry of the invisible world around you.
Wanderment was made in 72 hours for Clonejam, a regular event in which indie game developers are asked to design a game over a weekend inspired by a featured developer’s work. In Wanderment’s case, this developer was Jord Farrell, who designed similar particle-based games like Leap Before You Look and Goodnight.
The whole game only takes around 10 minutes to play, but it’s a powerful 10 minutes. Most games are so overt, but what makes Wanderment so good is how it toys with the possibility of suggestion. The world your kitten explores is only revealed in tantalizing glimpses that explode like fireworks all around you. Playing the game, you are both part of this world, and not part of it; a nyan cat ghost, streaking through a firefly world.
When you reach the end of the game, and meet up with your black feline friend (who streaks beside you if you decide to further explore) the title’s pun becomes clear: This is a game less about wandering than wonderment. Play it here.