Gemini is a mobile title that encourages you to go on a galactic journey. But it’s more than just lovely visuals and rousing music; this game wants you to get intimate with a partner as you dance around the stars. In some ways, quite literally.
Developed by Echostone Games, Gemini is an iOS title where you take the role of a rising star, making your way up from the depths of creation and shooting upwards towards space. The tone is not unlike Journey, with grand sights to see and an outright amazing score accompanying you. (Seriously, the music is breathtaking.) You only rise up when in proximity to another star and the two of you support and nurture each other along the way, giving each other the strength to press upwards towards infinity.
If that sounds poetic, that seems to be the point. Gemini is eager to offer a balletic experience where companionship and cooperation are key thematic pillars. Many hazards block your journey upwards from freezing winds to dense asteroid fields. The only way to soldier through these hurdles is to make sure you remain close to your partner star. When separated, you both fall downwards are remarkable speed. Together? You conquer everything in your path.
The most interesting aspect of Gemini comes after you finish the game. Completing the journey, which in itself only last about an hour and a half, unlocks a two player mode where each player controls one of the dancing stars. Gemini offers two control options “Hug Mode” and “Side by Side”. The first is more intimate, supposing that one player is reaching over the other. In this control scheme, inputs on the side of the screen guide each star. It’s a mode meant for couples who want to navigate the journey together from the snuggly comfort of their couch.
I opted to try “Side by Side” mode with a friend instead. Here, each player has a directional pad on their side of the screen. Moving your star about is as simple as tilting your finger and you are able to glide around your partner with ease or reunite in order to make progress. While significantly less flirtatious than the other mode, it still maintained a playful quality. If nothing else, Gemini has a nice awareness for the players, their bodies, and how to reinforce relationships through control schemes. From romantic cuddling with a partner to the back and forth teasing between good friends, the different ways of playing the game color the experience with different subtexts.
Games often ignore our bodies, relegating movement to cold controller inputs. Gemini doesn’t always work the way it wants; the experience can be a bit too maudlin at times and failure to coordinate can be punishing. But I appreciate a game that experiments with how we share the experience. Family and friends don’t always “get” why I find games so appealing. Gemini gave me a chance to show that off. It was goofy and playing off my phone might have been a little clumsy. It was fun and for a few moments, my friend and I were stars.