Composure - Review
Platform: Windows PC
Developers: Team Full Circle
Genre(s): Point and Click Adventure
Release Date: July 29th, 2017
Playtime: 10 minutes
Development Time: 3 months
Composure From Team Full Circle
Composure takes a brief but interesting look at abusive relationships and what it takes to overcome them. Made by Team Full Circle, the game is a 3D first-person point-and-click-adventure where the player take on the role of Michelle, a young woman in the midst of a break up with her emotionally abusive ex; Jason. Similar to many other games of the same genre, players are prompted to click on a variety of illuminated objects to experience key moments in Michelle’s past.
The game opens with Jason telling the player, “If you leave...I’ll kill myself.” The player is then given the choice to try and reason with their ex or be confrontational. These illicit different responses from Jason, all resulting in Michelle leaving the cafe to go back to her apartment. Once outside the cafe the player is met with several thought bubbles that allows the player to choose how they view the situation.
This process of clicking on thought bubbles continues throughout the game, sometimes gating the players actions and at other times they seem to be quite arbitrary as their only apparent purpose is to provide the audience with some insight to Michelle’s thoughts. However, it is worth noting that these thought bubbles do not seem to have any bearing on the ending of the game and can, for the most part, be avoided altogether. That being said these bubbles make the narrative much stronger in the opening of the game, as it does allow the player to take a stance with regards to Michelle and Jason's relationship. It is only in the apartment that these bubbles seem to lose their meaning.
Memories and Loose Ties
Upon arriving at her apartment the player is given the opportunity to explore the various rooms by clicking on highlighted object, at which point Michelle will comment on the object in question. Some of these objects unlock past memories which the player will experience upon interacting with them. These short flashbacks give the player a glimpse in Jason and Michelle’s relationship as well as Michelle’s relationships with other individuals such as Yoshi, Amy, and her father.
Each of these memories clearly demonstrates how emotionally abusive Jason could be. His constant demand for Michelle’s attention and manipulating her into either doing what he wants or making her feel awful for opposing him. He constantly berates Michelle for acting against him by saying, “Don’t do this to me,” or “ “I’m tired of showing you that we’re good together.” To Jason he is the one carrying this relationship, yet it is Michelle that is left bearing the weight. It is clear through the way Jason speaks to Michelle that she is experiencing gaslighting. This term is used “... when someone manipulates you into questioning and second-guessing your reality” (Leve). The subtle use of this throughout the game can hit close to home for some. There was little to no over dramatization of the situation that Michelle found herself in, yes there were extremes but they were not shown in a way that is meant to shock and awe the player, but rather tries to have them empathize with someone in such a position.
As strong as the dialogue is, the memories struggle to bring about a clear picture. As mentioned already they do show how overbearing Jason could be, but the memories feel as though they are hinting at more, but never quite get to the point. Each memory is interesting on their own, but in taking a step back it becomes more difficult to understand whether not these flashbacks are trying to say something more.
An Interesting Experience
The soundtrack was a wonderful addition to the game helping to support the somber mood and gloomy aesthetics of the game. The voice over was a nice touch that helped to bring the characters to life, especially during the flashback with Amy. It is worth noting that there is no challenge throughout this game, instead the player simply moves from space to space partaking in the events that unfold in front of them. All in all, Composure is a short yet engaging experience that does a good job showing the subtle signs of emotional abuse.
Download Composure at: http://community.vfs.com/arcade/game/composure/
Watch the official trailer for Composure below:
For more information on Gaslighting see the links below:
Leve, Ariel. “How to Survive Gaslighting: When Manipulation Erases Your Reality.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 16 Mar. 2017, www.theguardian.com/science/2017/mar/16/gaslighting-manipulation-reality-coping-mechanisms-trump