Virginia by developer Variable State is a first-person adventure game that follows graduate FBI special agent Anna Traver, as she investigates her first case involving a missing boy in the rural, but fictional town of Kingdom, VA.
Inspired by a variety of television shows (i.e. think X-Files, etc), Virginia borrows the slow-burn suspense that is now a staple of the ‘whodunit’ detective genre, as the player investigates a mute world filled with clues, visual queues, and body language.
But instead of providing a world that can be easily explored, the game settles for short sequences that transition to different scenes like a Hollywood production. For example: while investigating the residence of the missing boy, the player is required to investigate a limited amount of objects inside the home.
Seen from the first-person, the player must control Anna with the Left Analog stick, while moving a cursor with the Right Analog stick. When the single-dot cursor touches an object that can be investigated, it will turn into a diamond. From there, the player can press X button to see the next interaction. Once the right objects have been found, the scene will abruptly change to different one. Depending on where the player is in the story, the unexpected scene change could be inside Anna’s apartment or sitting in the passenger seat of her partner’s car.
Virginia uses these cinematic transitions throughout the game, making the story difficult to follow at times. There are a variety of dream sequences that also interrupt the game itself, blurring the distinction between what is happening in-game, and what Anna is actually remembering. Luckily, the game begins to piece these transitions together as the game progresses, as confusing as it may seem at first.
It’s important to investigate every sequence thoroughly. While the game won’t progress until every story-driven object is found, there are subtle clues the player must find to help understand the game’s ending. While these clues aren’t necessary (or even needed) to complete the game, they do help fill in the gaps left by a lack of character dialogue and/or storytelling.
Virginia is one of those games that is hard to categorize. It includes just enough interaction to be labeled an adventure game, while including all the tropes of a visual novel (sans the 3D environments). While not perfect, Virginia does a good job of blurring the line between the two genres, all things considered.
Platform: Playstation 4
Developer: Variable State
Publisher: 505 Games
ESRB: M (Mature)
Virginia Official Website: http://variablestate.com/projects/virginia
|The Hollywood-style cinematics add to the game's atmosphere.|
|A moody soundtrack compensates for a lack of speech.|
|Think visual novel with the ability to explore most of the game's surroundings.|
|Part visual novel, part 3D action adventure -- Virginia does a good job of blurring the line between the two genres.|