Itching For More: Friary Road

Every Wednesday, even when I continue to be overwhelmed with portfolio preparation and uni life, I shall carve out a small hole in my Wednesday to write Itching For More, gently placing the hole in front of your eyes. This week, sitting simulator: Friary Road.

Friary Road, by the lovely people over at Humble Grove, is about scale. This is a theme that Humble Grove, has, and continues to cover, and one they cover exceedingly well. Back in May, I looked at a game for Itching For More called I’ve Been Late. I’ve Been Late (by Tom Davison, one half of Humble Grove, the other being Hana Lee), focuses on a personal scale — one of emotion and anxiety, overcoming your fear of one and relaxing into the other.

In fact, scale continued to find its way into Humble Grove’s latest project, a series entitled No Longer Home, which begins with 29, a game I managed to find some time to play at EGX. 29 has you controlling Ao and Bo (two characters based on Davidson and Lee), as they wander round their small flat. The detail crammed into 29 speaks volumes — galaxies hide in bathtubs, monsters in rooms and gorgeous dialogue abounds, all in a flat set to a starlit backdrop — one that Humble Grove continue to remind us of throughout most of my time spent with 29.

29 — Humble Grove

Friary Road is a prequel to 29 — one in which the focus is less on exploration and more on conversation through observation. Friary Road sets its sights straight for the stars — having you guide a conversation between Ao and Bo as they sit after a barbeque, stargazing. Scenery fades in and out as our concentration fades between Ao and Bo and the stars.

Friary Road perfectly captures that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you look up and see the millions of stars above you, and you shrink yourself down from being the centre of the universe, to an atom sized dot — smaller than the stars you see before your eyes. Through patient conversation Ao and Bo explore the possibility of similar life on other planets, pointing out constellations amongst the fading stars.

Whilst their conversation continues to remind us of the human-like nature of Ao and Bo (the occasional joke and playful line), Ao and Bo softly explore normality and morality, two very human worries. Yet , normality is nothing — if we were normal we would be just another flower in the garden. If anything Me, You, Ao, Bo are all abnormal — strange creatures yearning for the stars in our back gardens, a life full of observation and contemplation.

When Friary Road was initially released (as it was made in a day for the Fermi Jam), it lacked any music to bolster its message. In fact, music has only just been added. Friary Road boasts a soundtrack from Paws Menu — one that I’ve had on repeat since finishing the game around an hour ago. As you play through Friary Road, Paws Menu’s ambience will seep its way out of your speakers and drag its way into your ears, the occasional piano chord sending ripples through the stellar waves, perfectly setting the tone.

Friary Road is ultimately about sitting, talking late into the night with someone, eyes glued to the heavens, mind floating free into the night.

Friary Road is pay-what-you-want, available here

Humble Grove also have a Patreon, where you can get access to their latest build of 29. You can find that here.

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