Prepare to enter the surreal world of Parallel. Single-handedly developed and published by Rodrigo Bantazo, this game will take you on a trippy journey through an alternate world consisting of a new civilization. If you’re not one for clowns, you may want to pass on this first-person RPG action-adventure released October 5, 2022 on Steam for Windows.
For those completionists out there, Parallel can be wrapped up in 3-5 hours, depending on what is done in the game. I played for an hour, and here’s my initial impression from my time within the unique realm.
My character woke up after a very strange interaction involving what is referred to as “the red clown.” In this existence, my soul–which initially resembles a translucent slug–is required to explore its new environment to understand what is happening.
With no clear instructions or directions on exactly what to do, I began to move about. In doing so, I quickly discovered that the jumping action (activated by pressing the spacebar if using a mouse and keyboard) does not translate to a true jumping motion. It’s not a big deal, but when you’re living the slug life, you’ve got to readjust your expectations regarding movement.
After wandering around for a bit, I came across the first of several large, glowing orbs I would encounter. I clicked on the button to interact with the sphere. A puzzle appeared, and I was instructed to “Quickly click on the correct sequence.” Not having the faintest idea what those directions meant, I proceeded to randomly click on the disks evenly distributed around the outer edge of the circle on the screen. After failing, I received further information that seemed to indicate that there was music involved. Unfortunately, I didn’t hear or see anything musically related that could’ve allowed me to successfully resolve this mystery. I wanted to dive back in and give it another go, but there’s a 40-second cooldown before trying again.
I continued to venture about. As time went on and I explored more, I met placed masked NPCs. The conversations were enigmatic, and I was left more baffled than before the exchanges. The audio for those chats sounded a bit muddled off and on. Thankfully there are subtitles.
The game boasts that choices have consequences, similar to that of a “butterfly effect.” I didn’t notice any repercussions from my decisions, neither in the replies I selected during the conversations with NPCs nor the puzzles I attempted to solve. If small decisions can have big twists (according to the game’s details), then those curveballs in the plot occurred in a different area nowhere near my character, or they weren’t evident anytime during my journey. Since Parallel is promoted as having massive playability, maybe future adventures will help me better detect any “butterfly effect” that takes place.
Going into the game, I expected–based on the trailer and description–to have an emotional or psychological experience. It didn’t matter whether it was positive and transcendent or thrilling and full of jump-scares. I just hoped for a journey with a purposeful objective or an ultimate end-goal that would provide me with an eventual destination on which I could set my sights. I desired to experiment and interact at a much faster pace, with an unfolding storyline that would make sense and give my character meaning. Unfortunately I found the entire undertaking too slow, lackluster, and confusing. The masked characters didn’t seem charismatic, and the scenes did not feel immersive. (Side note: While the rabbit-type creatures are cute, I quickly discovered they chirp. Continually.) In the end, this lost soul felt too lost in this particular dimension.
CONCLUSION: ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL
To be clear, I sincerely applaud the effort by the developer, who created this game without the backing of a AAA studio. The visuals are attractive and realistic. If your preferences are like mine–clear-cut goals and attainable objectives–then Parallel may not be your jam. However, if you favor roaming about in an undefined realm with seemingly endless possibilities, then you could easily get blissfully lost in this beautiful world of cheeping rabbits, perplexing puzzles, and masked inhabitants. For players who find this form of undefined wandering with no real clear guidance, Parallel may be your ultimate paradise.
ADDITIONAL ADVENTURING NOTES
- It is a single player game.
- You can use either a controller or a mouse with a keyboard to play.
- You can adjust the view from first person to third person.
- Loading time can take longer than expected depending on your computer’s drive (SSD or HDD).
- 3 languages are supported: English, Brazilian Portuguese, and Spanish (Latin America).