What is a game, when it has the potential to tell a story? When it can be more than the sum of it's parts, and create an enjoyable experience?
This game. Right here.
First, let us get some things out of the way. I love the art style of this. It's serene, pixel goodness. More to the point, it's thematic. The dreamscape really is like a fantasy forest going wrong as a young child might envision it, and feels... Intriguing to run through. The music too. It fits the flow of the game to a T, and that shift between reality and the nightmare is good to listen to.
Now let us talk about the part of the game I find most interesting. How easily the game made me ask questions. Why is this girl experiencing this nightmare? How does it tie in to her real life which, given the appearance of her real life bedroom, isn't very hopeful itself? Why is nature shown to be both evil (bears attack on sight, and foxes can as well, even rabbits can hurt you by accident) and peaceful (you can jump over ALL of these without problems, or even wear fox ears and pass by the foxes.)? How does fire tie in to this girl's trauma? And skulls besides? Perhaps I'm reading too much into it, but it makes me think. And that's a good thing, intentional or not.
The gameplay also lends itself to the player experiencing things from the perspective of the main character, in emotions as well as actions. After a few tries frustratedly trying to escape death, you likely will feel the same struggle she's going through. Empathizing with the protagonist is crucial to experiences like this game, and the gameplay makes that possible.
What am I building up to? Well, this is the kind of game that made me think throughout. And by the end, I was able to think of the potential story behind it. Was the girl involved in a tragedy in the woods, and this nightmare is her trauma about the whole experience threatening to break her spirit? The game won't tell you. It doesn't need to. This game lets you feel for yourself the struggle involved, the frustration and even fear that something as seemingly harmless as a fox can provide. And in the end, you walk away feeling... More at peace.
Bottom line. This game is an experience worth slogging through. Because no matter how hopeless it seems... Better to try and fight your demons than to submit to them. Thank you for your time.