The Void
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 		 		 		 		Don't believe him.

Good grief! Where do I begin? How do I describe this? I don't really know, so let's just see how this turns out...


You play a soul, trapped in the eponymous Void somewhere between life and death. The Void - a dimension made up of various chambers viewed from a first-person perspective - is home to the Sisters who are the life in the realm and are watched over by the hideous, brutal Brothers. In order to get through the Void you need the help of the Sisters and you do this by using colour. Colour is the lifeblood of everything in the Void - it's sparse and precious, and the Brothers frown severely on its misuse. You collect colour by harvesting it from plants and other objects, and you can also colour in trees which will then provide fresh colour each cycle. When you collect colour it's know as 'Lympha'. You use Lympha to fill your various hearts (such as the one in your knee), which lets you survive in the Void (time stands still in chambers but ticks down, draining your hearts, in the Void). The colour in your hearts is known as 'Nerva' and gradually converts the colour to the Palette. This is the colour you can use to bring things to life and to please the sisters. Pleasing the sisters gives you more hearts (such as the one in the back of your head) as well as unlocking new chambers and allowing progress to the other Sisters. They also give you new glyphs. You use glyphs to do everything from defending yourself, to giving life to trees. You 'paint' glyphs using Palette colours and the more you use, the more powerful the effect of the glyph.


I'm not even sure I've covered everything then. Oh yes! Cycles. Cycles last for 99 seconds and during this time your hearts drain of Nerva constantly. Run out of Nerva and its game over. At the end of each cycle, the world changes - you'll find Lympha where you'd previously harvested everything, and any trees you've given life to will be full of the stuff.


A little left-field, no? Not that it matters one jot how you actually play the game - the joy in The Void comes from getting further into it; seeing each new chamber, and especially meeting each new Sister or Brother.


The Void itself is basically a map screen consisting of several interlinked chambers. Each set of chambers stem from a central one, which is home to a Sister. Using the omnipresent colour, you need to please each Sister by filling her hearts with her favourite shades. Fill one and she'll give you a heart and a new glyph. Fill two hearts and she'll let you pass on to the next Sister. Fill three, though, and you'll be for the high jump - this is a cardinal sin for which the Brothers will never forgive you.


Meeting the next Sister will be your ultimate ambition, and not necessarily because you have to in order to advance. The main reason will be because they are so utterly enchanting. Each one is different - living in her own unique chamber, with her own distinct personality (the only thing they all share is that they're semi nude -yay!). Every meeting with them is a different experience - they'll tell you different things and try to bend you different whims - and you'll certainly end up with an adored favourite. These scenes are often thought provoking and always peacefully surreal, and completely unlike anything else that I can think of in gaming.


However central the Sisters are to the plot and action, and however wonderful they are, it's the Brothers that are the highlight for me. Twisted nightmares that police the Void, protecting the Sisters, vandalising your colour gardens, and just generally giving you a hard time. They're the product of a truly fantastic imagination - disturbing in their design (Mantid, for example, is a mangled corpse who walks on several spears that are impaled through what's left of his body) and genuinely unsettling to encounter. You live in constant fear of meeting them and their presence in the Void is unnervingly oppressive. That's not to say you should avoid them; they may not like you, but they're necessarily out to kill you. In fact, you should aim to meet them, so brilliant are they. From time-to-time they'll also give you tasks. The punishment for failing them is usually a fight and the reward is nearly always survival.


I'm well aware that this review is a little vague but it's a deliberate ploy: not only is the Void pretty hard to actually describe, it's also game that hinges on you discovering everything for yourself. Finding out anything about it could potentially spoil entire sections of the game. And I wouldn't wish that on anyone who has it in them to try this game out, as it can be so rewarding. Meeting my first Brother and Sister is one of the most memorable experiences I've had in recent times.


That's not to say it's without fault though. It can be massively, frustratingly hard to get anywhere to start with. You know what to do, but not whether you're doing it right. Mistakes in the first cycle can lead to insurmountable problems in later cycles, to which the only solution I found was to restart. This happened to me five times during my first play through. Yeah, yeah: n00b! I know, but it was incredibly frustrating. If I didn't have to review it, I may well have given up. I am very glad I didn't though.

Combat is dull - it just involves drawing splodges on the enemies. Glyphs help add variety but it still does get tedious. Scraps against the Brothers are better, as they're more tactical, although I'd still be happier if there was no need to fight.


And obviously the subject matter will put some people off. At times its so odd it can be like playing a PC version of Chris Morris's ‘Jam'. Although I consider this to be a good thing, plenty of people won't.


If you can get past its unconventional nature, and aren't put off by a potentially frustrating start, a gem awaits. No other game I can think of is even remotely like this and I wish to hell more were. I urge people to play this - if we don't, they'll stop making games like it. And that would be a crying shame.

Have you no shame? I can clearly see your aura.