I don't think I'm really a good enough writer to really express how the first 90 or so minutes of Everything really affected me. I only knew one thing coming into this game: it promised to let you play as everything in it. From sub-atomic particles to galaxies and all things in between: if it exists, you can control it and explore around the world.
There's an immediate hilarity as you start the game as some kind of animal that, instead of ambulating forward on its legs, just kinda rolls around. And you think to yourself ah, OK, so this game's a joke, kinda like Mountain, a previous game by the developer. But as you go around you really start to notice that the game's trying to do something with its premise.
As you explore, random things have thought bubbles that offer a peek into what they're thinking. This rock hates the rain. This plant used to wish it could walk but then found itself happy to just be where it was. This disease strain is thinking about how the universe may as well not exist before you were born and basically ceases again once you're dead. You know, thoughts.
But some of them then actually unlock audio clips of a philosopher named Alan Watts (who coincidentally shares my birthday) talking about being and what it is to be alive in a world, to act on it and have it act on you. You're a bird. You're a building. They act on and influence each other and so to does everything else in the universe. And you just sort of hit this sensory thing where you're wrapped up in the very idea of just being.
In a way, Everything works out as something I've never really seen before, a sort of lecture that explains and expands on itself through your exploration of the mechanics involved even as it preaches directly to you. Alan Watts' words would just wash over you had they been presented on their own. The simple gameplay would have worn its welcome out if that's all it was. But together they kind of become an experience that demonstrates itself as it explains what it wants to convey.
Which creates such a unique feeling and it becomes all-encompassing.
And this is where I find myself failing to express myself, like I said above, mostly because it was such a unique experience that can't be recaptured, but also because anything I say feels... hyperbolic and frankly laughable. But I'll go on with this anyways... it sort of felt to me what others might feel when a religion or a philosophy really touches them. That sort of being overwhelmed and intoxicated by a message. Being entirely engrossed in what someone is trying to say to them.
It feels doubly laughable because I'm going to walk away from my time with Everything unchanged in my feelings regarding what it was talking about, the universe and my place in it. It's just that the moment, that moment that can't be revisited or recaptured, that transcendent and fleeting feeling, washed over me. I saw the point it was trying to make and the beauty in it and let myself explore through it all. I was lost. All I wanted to do was see and hear more of it.
But the magic wore off and it began to once again feel like it was just a lecture. It might have been a really good lecture the first time through, but revisiting it gives diminishing returns, and eventually it can be difficult to remember what it was even about in the first place.
Everything is definitely a unique experience but it does wear out its welcome at a point. When it starts to feel empty and like all you're doing is mechanically ticking things off of a "found a thing to control!" checklist and feels like it's leaving its message to the wayside, that's when it's best to cut it loose, in my opinion. It can feel unlike anything you've ever played, but eventually, like real existence, it starts to feel like a slog. But in those moments when it's firing on all cylinders, it's really something special.