After a long journey you have settled into your room in the Brownie Cove Hotel. You sit down, dim the lights, and lose yourself in an old TV set; tuning between stations to find the messages within and without.
Between Stations, from Sand Gardeners, plays out almost entirely through twisting a dial to tune a TV, and selecting options when choices present themselves. As with old TVs there’s frequently hidden channels to find amid the static; as a matter of fact, that’s very much the meat of the experience.
You’ll slide between cooking shows and nature shows, slightly influencing the events of the programs. You’ll also experience hidden messages in the static: people calling out or sending their thoughts through the non-space.
Having now played through the entire Between Stations experience a fair few times — most exotically through a physical installation at EGX last year where they used a TV as a monitor, dials as controls, and dressed the event area to look like the screen in game — I’m still compelled by the universe it takes place within. It is rare that a game which uses words and simple, filtered imagery can make me both shudder and relax within the same sitting, but Sand Gardeners’ manner of writing, and use of perception, certainly achieves that.
Between Stations is available for free on Itch.io.