Developer: Philipp Stollenmayer
Size: 445 MB
Platform: iPhone & iPad
Developer Philipp Stollenmayer has quietly built a reputation for creating quirky, experimental games that are nonetheless grounded in a deep sense of physicality and playfulness.
His games are also inherently mobile. You could imagine playing the likes of Zip Zap and Supertype on something other than your iPhone, but you probably wouldn’t want to.
All of these attributes have been brought together and tied up with an artfully designed bow in Song of Bloom. This is a narrative puzzler that’s at once strange and logical, deep yet simplistic, and where big existential themes sit comfortably alongside throw-away pop culture references.
At its heart, Song of Bloom is a story about a nameless woman searching for meaning. It rarely gets any more specific than that, which can grow a little exasperating if you’re someone who likes clarity from their stories. But it does operate well on a universal artistic level.
This vague, wistfully told tale forms the framework for a series of interlocking mini-games that require varying degrees of logical thinking, observation, and good old trial-and-error to solve. Across the span of the game (which will last you an hour or two max) you’ll utilize virtually every interface element that your iPhone has to offer. And we do mean every.
It would be a massive spoiler to talk about these in any great detail – especially given the game’s brevity – but you’ll be drawing, pinching, pressing and rotating your device’s screen in a variety of ways before the story comes to its affecting conclusion.
The game is elegantly structured, with each fumbled-for solution and tactile conundrum leading to another budding clue on a sapling tree of knowledge. You’ll repeatedly run through the scenes of the opening narrative, interacting with various elements as you discover fresh tips.
When you get down to it, the mysteries hinted at throughout Song of Bloom rarely come to fruition. Progress is typically a simple case of finding the right screen and tapping in the right place.
But it’s all so artfully done, so beautifully drawn and seamlessly put together, and all with so much wit and heart, that it feels churlish to complain.
Song of Bloom makes a strong case for mobile gaming as a unique storytelling medium, quite apart from its console and PC cousins. It’s a game you’ll find yourself thinking about long after you’ve finished it, and a game that you’ll want to talk to your friends and family about whether they count themselves as gamers or not.