In Alz, you wander as a blank-faced man through a landscape of trees and skyscrapers that stutter and glitch as a strange black box follows. It’s an incredibly short experience, a poem-length immersion in the world of someone caught in the confusion of memory loss.
Alz, not too subtly short for Alzheimer’s, was brought to my attention through Chris Priestman’s post at Kill Screen. The creators — dyl with music by Broove — describe it as: “A short game. Well more like a short film. Well more like an experimental short film in ever-so-slightly interactive of a format.” It was posted to Newgrounds game site earlier this month.
It only takes a few minutes to play, and there are no decisions you can make to take you from the trap of your disappearing grasp on the present. “As it fades, it becomes more beautiful than ever,” your character ponders at the increasingly scattered tree before him, one of the figures you can interact with as you cycle through the wavering world. It’s a surprisingly touching experience, especially with the reveal of who that caring black box turns out to be, accented by the atmospheric winding piano music by Broove.
It is reminiscent of the 2007 indie game classic Passage by Jason Rohrer, where through some basic pixels and sense of propelled movement it evokes the cycle of life into age and death. The game, or interactive short film, could definitely be extended more and still keep its power, but as an experience that places you in the footsteps of someone losing their identity in the growing static of memories, Alz is quite haunting.
Alz is available to play for free online at Newgrounds.