Oh, Steam. No matter how many games I play, you’re always there to show me that there are many, many more that I need to experience. Your algorithms for determining my interests have come a long way since I first started using you back in 2010, and I’m grateful for it.
As usual, I found The Plan through Steam’s recommendation engine. I think it was sent to me after playing Dear Esther, which — despite my lack of enthusiasm for the execution — was an interesting direction for a game to take. I’m down with walking simulators, as long as they tell a good story.
The Simplest Story of All
In The Plan, you play as a housefly. There is no voiceover or text to guide you or distract you from your simple fly life. You are a fly, and you exist.
And that’s really most of the game. Just existing. Making it through life trying to find a point when there is no voiceover or game text to guide you.
Silence and Meaning
The Plan is only about four minutes long, so I won’t give away the ending. It’s free, just go give it a shot here.
A smidgeon uncomfortable, wasn’t it?
A large part of what makes The Plan so compelling is its relative silence. There is music, but no language. This lack of language, the lack of traditional communication, causes the game to feel much longer than its mere four minute play-time. It’s strange and unnatural feeling.
The Plan is a quiet, contemplative piece in a medium that usually serves to distract us from our own thoughts. It gives our thoughts the quiet they need to peek out and look around with just enough of a direction to focus them. Honestly, playing as that little fly felt more like my daily meditation session than a gaming experience.
But I liked that. It’s nice to slow down and breathe for a few moments. It’s nice to just be without having a larger point. There are no experience points to be gained, no exploration to be had, no grand adventure to embark upon. It’s just you and a fly, meandering through life together.
I wouldn’t call The Plan a great game, but it is an interesting game. It uses the medium in a different way than we usually experience as gamers, and it offers a nice chance for contemplation and reflection.
Go play it. It’s pretty, it’s free, and it’s trying something a little bit different than the norm. Plus, it’s going to take you less than five minutes, so you may as well.