Reviewed On: PC

Most of the time when you go to the store or browse through Steam, you end up buying a game. You’ll start playing it, maybe even finish it, then soon forget about it. Sometimes, instead of finding a game, you’ll find an emotive experience. This is the best way to describe Space Budgie’s game, 9.03m.

Publisher: Space Budgie
Developer: Space Budgie
Platforms: PC
Genre: Indie, Experimental
Release Date: September, 2013

9.03m opens on Baker Beach in San Francisco. After a lovely piano intro, you are prompted to “find the butterflies” and left to your own devices. Off in the distance is what looks like a human shape on the beach, but it’s a little hazy. As you walk down the pier, you are sure to notice small, glowing lights that appear to lead towards the shadowy figure.  As you approach the lights they disappear, one by one, until you reach your destination. The figure, of which you can now tell is definitely human, simply vanishes before your eyes. Wait though, there’s something left in the sand: a soccer ball. You are prompted to examine the item. On one of the hexagonal areas on the ball is a small butterfly. As you notice this, the item shows the name of its owner, Tatsuya Sato, before dissolving into a small butterfly. It flies along the beach gracefully, leaving behind a trail of lights, as it draws your attention to yet another figure in the sand. Curious, you feel the need to see more. You set off.

9.03m-Karl-Inglott-1

Each memento on the beach is another memory; another person no longer able to tell their own tale. These items give you a sense of who they were and what they liked; their hopes and their dreams. 9.03m is a game of memories, giving tribute to the victims of the Touhoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami. In fact, half of the money raised from 9.03m is being donated to Aid for Japan (http://www.aidforjapan.org.uk/), a charity that helps children who lost their parents in the aftermath of the disaster. For this reason alone, buying the game is worth it. However, 9.03m offers much more than just money for a charity: this can easily be described as one of the most emotional and poignant experiences for a game of this type since Dear Esther. The game incorporates a great deal of symbolism, mostly with the butterfly motif. In many countries, but especially in Japan, butterflies are seen as symbols of the human soul or rebirth. It can be said that releasing the butterflies from the momento’s on the beach is akin to setting the souls of the people who died in the tsunami free. The beautiful scenes of butterflies forming out of light and floating off down the beach almost seem to say, “Yes, someone has heard my story. I will be remembered. Now I can rest.”. The blue tones that depict the environment represent calm for both the spirit and the observer of the soul finding its way to the afterlife. It’s beautiful. It’s tear-jerking. Simply writing about it does not do it justice. The final scene is also a sight to behold. Watch it for yourselves and see. Or, perhaps “feel” would be the more appropriate word.

903m

A special note should also be paid to the sound work on 9.03m. The piano melodies are gorgeous and evoke emotion appropriate to what the game conveys. It also is not obtrusive in any way. When the piano is needed, it is there; otherwise it waits in the background as the atmospheric noises of a beach in the twilight hours echoes around the player. Again, the sound of the ocean and the sand under your feet is present, but not overpowering. Everything sounds very natural, like it is supposed to be there. The sound designer did an excellent job.

 

9.03m Review
Do yourself a favor: pick up this game. It's set at a low $1.99 on Steam, half the proceeds go to charity, and you will feel something that a game rarely makes you feel. Calling 9.03m a game does not describe well enough everything that it accomplishes in such a short time. It is emotive, artful, poignant and something that must be experienced, not read about.
Pros
  • Half the proceeds go to charity
  • Incredibily emotive, artful and poignant
  • Excellent use of symbolism and sound
Cons
  • Very short
  • Not considered a "game" in the traditional sense (not necessarily a con, but worth mentioning)
5.0Overall Score
Reader Rating: (11 Votes)

About The Author

Contributing Writer

I've been into the gaming and tech world since I was little. My current favorite games are Path of Exile, Dota 2 and Pokemon XY. I also dabble in writing board game reviews, making arts and crafts and writing stories.

  • Kyle LondonArsenault

    interesting, have we found a new purple game?

    • CrisJ

      That’s exactly what I said…

    • Blane

      This one is the Blue game.