Leaving Lyndow is a short glimpse into a much larger world. Taking place on the day a young explorer leaves her home town on a dangerous adventure, the game won’t take you long to experience, but you’ll be lost a beautiful fantasy world full of complex conversations, wonderful world building and some surprisingly fun mini games you wouldn’t normally see in what initially appears to be a “walking simulator”
Mechanically, Leaving Lyndow is quite straightforward: You play as Clara, a newly appointed Junior Marine Researcher to the Guild of Scientific Exploration in the world of Eastshade. It’s your last day in your hometown of Lyndow, and you’ll spend it packing your trunk, reminiscing about your life and saying your goodbyes to friends and family. This takes the form of a number of conversations and environmental explorations, with a number of optional mini games somewhat hidden in the game’s five different areas.
There’s not a ton of gameplay in Leaving Lyndow; exploring every area completely and playing all of the mini games will probably only take you an hour or so, but what’s there is incredibly well done. The environments have a nostalgic weight to them, and Clara’s thoughts that appear at the bottom of the screen give us hints of the backstory these items and location hold, but never explicitly tell us the backstory. You’re a visitor in this life, and are only getting a snapshot of one very important day.
One of Leaving Lyndow’s biggest strengths is the world building going on. Leaving Lyndow is set in the same universe as Eastshade Studio’s major project; Eastshade. This game is set around 80 years before the events of Eastshade, and while Lyndow will be a place you visit in Eastshade, the area is in a completely different state than you’ll see it there. Each area is littered with posters, excerpts from books and artwork that immediately give you the sense that you are part of a much larger universe that has existed for a long time.
I did find the lack of the ability to sprint frustrating at first, but sprinting through this world would defeat the intent of the game. This is a slow and reflective journey. You’re meant to take your time, look at the places you’re walking through and talk to the people living there.
This may sound to you like the makings of a so called “walking simulator”, but I’m pleased to say there are actually some objectives and goals at play in Leaving Lyndow. Besides the environmental interactions and conversations you’ll be looking to have to progress through each area, most areas have a small mini game to play through. These games take a number of different forms, from musical memory games, to treasure hunts, to ball games played with the town children. While not complex, they do add a fantastic element of interaction to the game, and are way more entertaining than I expected.
Leaving Lyndow is an absolutely beautiful game and a goldmine for desktop wallpapers. The environments are gorgeous, full of rich detail and numerous objects and people you can interact with. There’s a nice variety of interior and exterior areas to explore, but they are all full of interesting details. The areas are fairly small, but feel lived in and real: this feels like a very possible fantasy world that I’d be eager to explore. Warm light and neutral colors give the entire town of Lyndow a calmness, punctuated by the bittersweet knowledge that this could be the last time Clara will be seeing these faces and vistas.The music only amplifies the tone of the game; Soft piano trickles through the environments, calming you and accentuating thee slow pace of exploration and investigation.
The only thing that I found a bit disappointing in Leaving Lyndow was the lack of voice acting. This is a bit of a silly criticism to make, particularly when the dialogue in Leaving Lyndow feels so refreshingly real. It’s very clear that voice acting would be a major undertaking and expense that wouldn’t make sense for Leaving Lyndow’s scope, and additionally, would be a limiting factor in production (written dialog can be added into the game and manipulated in many more ways without having to worry about recording and such). Still, I cannot help but feel that I could loose myself in this world so easily were their a choir of voices filling Lyndow with their complaints, questions and conversations.
I think that many people will scoff at Leaving Lyndow’s length, but in many ways, this is a case of quality over quantity. True, Leaving Lyndow will cost you $3.99 for only about an hour, maybe two if you play through a couple times to see some other dialogue options, of game time. However, it’s an incredibly well made experience in a world that feels rich and full of life, even if we are only seeing one small corner of it. In that way, Leaving Lyndow succeeds at its goal of being both a stand alone and self contained preview of things to come in Eastshade, and a means of sparking curiosity about the world being created by Danny Wienbaum.
You can learn a whole lot more about Leaving Lyndow’s developer Danny Weinbaum, and how Leaving Lyndow relates to Eastshade, by checking out our IndieDev Interview with Danny here.