The Sensational December Machine is like a snow globe that you can go inside of. What's in there? A beautifully drawn, vertiginously presented holiday fable that's a great little meditation on what it means to give and get something.
Totally free and made in three weeks, the latest release from Simogo is the indie developer's most slender and straightforward creation: a short story about an inventor who pours her heart into a new machine meant to stoke people's feelings. But experiencing the short story is anything but straightforward. You move through the words by looking around with a mouse, with left-click or down-arrow inputs moving you forwards. (You can move backwards with right-clicks or the up arrow.)
December Machine is more spare than The Sailor's Dream, Simogo's already-lean last effort, and probably more reminiscent of Device 6. But that makes all the more appealing. It's a semi-tangled skein of written words navigated via game controls, just confounding enough to deliver tiny doses of discovery when you figure out where to look to continue reading. As I ran through the snowy fable, I thought, "Hey, when my kid starts learning how to read, I hope it's through something like this." Download it and put your non-gaming family members in front of the screen. Hopefully they, too, will see the warmth that can be found in a well-crafted 3D environment. You can get it for PC and Mac here.