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  • Writer's pictureRoberto Nieves

PAX West: The Gap Tells a Powerful Story of the Mind and Alternate Realities

The mind is a very powerful and complex organ. It's allowing me to type these words. It's allowing me to exercise what I've learned. I can remember something that happened ten years ago, but I cannot remember what I ate for lunch. The mind is many things. It's a time machine. It's a learning computer. It's a place filled with the biggest dreams and darkest nightmares. For developer Label This, they are taking players deep into the mind.

Crunching Koalas, the Polish publisher best known for Lichtspeer, Butcher, and Winds of Change, is publishing an ambitious sci-fi mystery that sends players into alternate realities to save a family and possibly the world. The greatest puzzle in the universe is what lies inside the very depths of our minds. This is The Gap, a first-person puzzle-solving cerebral mystery with a pulping sci-fi setting.

Inside Story

Players are Joshua Hayes. Joshua is a neuroscientist working on experimental research with the mind. He tragically discovers his family is affected by a genetic disorder that eats away at memory and functions. Joshua refuses to let this happen. He undergoes an experimental procedure that pieces together a possible cure and the mysteries about himself. The game has players rummage through artifacts in the environment in an attempt to piece things together.

My time with The Gap reveals that each piece of the environment is a potential clue. Some are random items that don't have a bearing on progression, but others have a special impression on Joshua. These special items begin a sort of warping effect. If combined with others, Joshua is transported into that artifact and into an alternate reality where he relives that moment again.

Deja Vu

My demo and I go deep into the past, from college to choosing a bunny for Joshua's daughter. What started out as exploring a disheveled apartment soon led me into areas that started questioning where I really was or if I was in the same timeline. This is where the Inception inspirations come in with the multitude of layers one goes through.

The visual style of The Gap is impressive. Words float as if to appear within the mind. The transitions constantly give the sensation of being in an amorphous reality in which the laws of physics are constantly rewritten. There is a constant sensation of fluidity and shifting to emphasis that players are not within familiar reality. It's an ambitious setup with plenty of opportunity to grow into.

Putting the pieces together

While the demo was short, the story engaged me immensely, both in its execution and subject matter. The mind is a powerful and mysterious organ. Today's discourse involves the hows and whys of mental health and illness, depression, anxiety, and dementia at the forefront. While much progress has been made, there is more to do.

I couldn't help but bring similarities to Inception and Source Code, two entirely different movies that explored the concepts of memories and layers of the mind. The Gap feels very much so in this vein in all the best ways. The memories Joshua explores can be manipulated and explored fully. Every moment in another memory feels like a slip through a timeline, and an alternate reality takes place. It's ambitious, and that's what makes The Gap exciting.

Mind over Matter

The Gap is going to go places that haven't been explored before in this genre. The storytelling and execution hold a great deal of mystery that I cannot wait to explore. What lies in wait within the life and mind of Joshua is exciting yet mysterious. We'll have to see the truth about Joshua and his disease when The Gap launches on October 19, 2023.


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