Brownie Cove Express is an antique train ride through the lives of six strangers. It is also a journey through the self.
Brownie Cove Express is a point & click narrative game about taking you on a journey. Set aboard an old train, you’ll move from car to car, talking to the people who are sharing your travels with you. A Wanderer, an Artist, Lovers, a Mother, a Pilgrim, and a Warrior all have stories to tell you, with you guiding the conversation with your questions and actions. While this may seem like a game about their stories, you quickly learn that your story is a part of this tale as well.
Brownie Cove Express set me in a cabin with a pair of lovers when I tried it out at the Sweden Game Conference this year. I wasn’t sure what to expect of the frowning couple – perhaps some heavy-handed tale of sorrow – but what came from them was something much more subtle. They seemed to be on the verge of breaking up, but not from some concrete thing they were railing about. The steady divide felt more like it was borne of some creeping sadness that tinged their memories, each struggling to hold onto happiness as it slipped between their fingers. You felt the weight of their past joy, and the hurt of what was falling apart, through the incredible writing at work in this game.
Perhaps I was projecting, as the game, within moments, drew my own past into its narrative. The game asks simple things of you as you explore its story – perhaps to call up a memory, or to feel what the character is sharing with you. It called up old pain and memories that had once been happy ones, now bleak and ruined by the march of time and stubbornness. The story is told in such a way that you cannot help but examine the parts of yourself you can see in these stories.
Maybe it’s the nature of travel, and the sadness a long ride away from something you care about can bring, but Brownie Cove Express dredges these recollections out of you, unbidden. It demands you remember things you may have preferred to forget. It reminds you of the things long lost as your own journey continues to move forward, unstoppable. In the crumbling connection of these two characters, presented with sharp dialogue and imagery, I reflected myself.
I have never been taken to such emotional depths so quickly as I have been with Brownie Cove Express. It’s a nearly-painful look at what exists within ourselves, forcing me to face some things I’d long buried. I don’t know if it will do that for everyone, but the connection it forms with the player, bringing them in as a seventh story, is something that deserves to be experienced by those who want to see what this medium is capable of.
So yeah, it was pretty good. Definitely good enough to be among the best of the Sweden Game Conference.