As a critic, I pride myself on playing a wide array of video games. I often go out of my way to seek out new experiences, and I play everything from mindless first-person shooters to hardcore management sims. The main point that I’m making is that I play a lot of video games, and this should give context to what I’m about to say.
Everything is by far the weirdest video game I’ve ever played. I’ve spent hours drinking virtual sodas, I encountered way too many quick-time events in Asura’s Wrath, and I’ve played several of Hidetaka Suehiro’s games. None of those ever had me controlling a sword, allowed me to press a button in order to spawn even more swords, and then using the dedicated dance button to do a bizarre mating ritual starring them. Everything let me do just that.
Everything is a game that could only be from the mind of David OReilly, an Irish artist and filmmaker. He’s probably best known for directing and animating the Adventure Time episode “A Glitch is a Glitch,” which is the only episode of the popular series to not feature 2D animation, and for being the animation director for the video game sequences in the film Her. Everything isn’t his first foray into gaming, as he previously released Mountain in 2014, which is a procedurally generated mountain simulator.
I was lucky enough to spend about 15 minutes chatting with OReilly after checking out Everything, and the game made a lot more sense once I learned about the artist behind it. OReilly is an extremely passionate creator, and his goal with Everything is to give players a different perspective on things. This is done by allowing the player to basically control any object they see from a small bug to an entire planet.
One thing that became clear in our conversation is that OReilly is an artist, and one that is fully committed to creating his vision. This is so refreshing in a world where games are focus tested ad nauseam, and a true authored experience is rare. It’s this sense of freedom that allows OReilly to include dozens of quotes from Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius’ book Meditations.
I had no clue what to expect from Everything when I began playing it, as some sort of microscopic bug, but I quickly found that the title was an apt description. After I grew tired of controlling the bug with the left analog stick, and had spawned in a huge group of identical-looking friends, I switched to a different object. I did this a few more times, and then I realized I could take a look at the world from a more zoomed-out perspective, and did just that.
It was then that I noticed a chicken that was lying on its side with its beak pointed at the ground. I thought it was an odd glitch at first, but after I took control of it, I noticed that was just how the chicken (and plenty of other objects in the game) moved. It didn’t accurately move like a bird, it just sort of rolled around the environment. This visual may seem strange, and it certainly is, but it’s perfectly fitting when you’re playing Everything. I eventually had a peep of chickens rolling around a forest, and then pressed the game’s designated dance button to watch them make a formation as if they were a high school marching band. It was pretty awesome.
Everything is a beautiful look at how truly strange and wonderful the world is, and I feel like it succeeds in giving the player a different perspective. I only got to spend a few minutes with it, but I’ve spent even more time thinking about my playtime with it. It’s set to launch on PlayStation 4 “whenever it’s finished,” and I’m definitely excited to spend more time with it.