My adventure kicks off onboard of a ferry with a group of friends—Ren, Nona, Clarissa, and Jonas. The latter, we soon learn, is our new stepbrother. As the boat approaches a nearby island, the friendly banter filled up my screen with a comics-style, cute conversation bubbles.
The journey to Edwards Island felt somehow soothing but eerie at the same time. Ren tells us that the island housed a military base at one point. There’s also mention of a woman named Maggie Adler. Our objective appears to be camping on the island’s beach, followed by exploring the nearby caves.
Alex—my character—has a knack for radios it seems. I have a nifty-looking small device that I can tune into and change its frequency while navigating the island. At times I stumble across blitz-from-the-past music stations. It reminded me so much of Fallout’s Pip Boy vintage stations. This added a nice backdrop to some of the deserted locales.
In other parts of the island, I came across “tune-in” billboards, next to what appeared to be sight-seeing destinations. Tuning into frequency 140.1 triggered a guided tour of the nearby construction, how cool is that?!
My radio isn’t your run-of-the-mill gadget. It also seems to have weird powers. The inhabitants of the island developed this interesting technology, where the WAL signals of the radio can trigger and open locked doors and vaults.
After snooping around the island for some time, consulting my trusted and adorable hand-drawn map, I learned that the U.S. army used this place to train troops in communication and radio technology. Their objective was to educate their members with state-of-the-art code breaking, to aid during times of war.
One woman in particular, named Margaret Adler, trained here with a friend of hers at the Fort Milner school. It looks like not many people liked this island, and due to some hole in national security, the government took control of the island, on-and-off.
Maggie Adler used her family’s fortune to buy off as many locations as she can on the island. But why was she doing that? After gathering her letters, I learned that things are not what they appear to be. There’s a dark secret behind this island, which is the reason why Adler was trying to seal off access.
Oblivious to this fact, we made our way to the nearby caves, and while fumbling with the radio, our friends triggered open a rift in the caves, which instigates a series of paranormal activities in the area.
The radio immediately began picking up various conversations by people on the island. Were they inhabitants at some point? Many questions remain unanswered. The only way to find out is to backtrack our steps and follow the notes of Margaret Adler to unravel the mystery.
Impressions of the Game
Everything from how the game is drawn to the way it side-scrolls and unravels graphically, adds to the charm of this game. It’s very unique. Not your typical intense horror game, aside from the handful hair-rising incidents here and there. In fact, it could be described as meditative. There’s plenty of space and ambience to explore and learn suspense-free, meanwhile making you feel like there’s something very unsettling going on.
The voice acting is superb. They’ve also done a fantastic job with the world building. The game isn’t exceptionally large, but the lore was rich just enough to support the narrative.
I also liked how none of it is forced on the player. You’re very capable of finishing the game without paying much attention to the background story. In this sense, finding Adler’s scattered notes around the island is fully optional. But the inevitable curiosity stimulated will most likely make you want to find each and every note.
The game isn’t perfect. The long loading was my least favorite part. I found myself wanting to eagerly go back-and-forth between locations, but I dreaded the loading time. Conversations sometimes run over each other, not to mention the controls can feel funny sometimes. Overall; however, the game is very well done.
I’m not usually a fan of heavily scripted games, but I found myself drawn to characters’ interconnections. I enjoyed their conversational exchanges, though at times they delve into heavy topics.
Station S., Bainbridge Island. Source: Historylink.
Real Life References
Interestingly enough, I found out there are some real life parallels to Fort Milner. A real-life secret radio station, known as “Station S”, which could be the inspiration behind the game. You can read more about this here
FWA Annex, Station S, Fort Ward 1943. Source HistoryLink.
I’m not the biggest fan of political themes in games, and at times I do feel like perhaps the game tries to address an over-arching story inconsistent with its scale. That being said, it was an enjoyable journey.
I’m also excited for the sequel, sometime this year.