400 Years, which is all about waiting, is a game totally designed for me. You have to be patient, and when you get stuck and think that more patience can’t possibly be the answer, it totally is. It moves as slow as a stone effigy with legs, but it moves with purpose, and you can always speed everything else up by advancing time and changing the seasons. Or you can just stand around and bask in the comfortable, autumn weather, listening to Kevin MacLeod’s stunningly gorgeous and hypnotic soundtrack, becoming stone-still yourself. All in all, it’s a fantastic little piece of puzzle-based experimentation, and I encourage everyone reading to give it a try.
The plot is very straightforward: a great calamity is approaching, and you’re the only one who can stop it. Who exactly are you? Well, you’re a sentient stone idol who can do little more than walk left or right, climb trees, and, magically, advance time by a full season, seeing autumn, winter, spring, and summer zip by in an otherworldly blur. In short, you have 400 years to spend until this disaster strikes down, and time’s a-ticking, so you better get a-saving. Just kiddin’. There’s really no rush. I was able to complete 400 Years with about two hundred to spare, and I’m sure you can save the people, the place, and the planet even quicker than that so long as you know what you’re doing.
Of all the games I’ve played this year, 400 Years has been the most relaxing and possibly enjoyable for that very fact. Well, wait. Animal Crossing: New Leaf is pretty stress-free, actually. Anyways, I was not stressed about losing health or missing a collectible or not finding the one specific pixel to click on to advance the plot–there was just time, and a lot of it. Your goal is to, more or less, constantly move to the right until you find the place where the calamity will occur, and then you have to stop it the only way you know how. The puzzles along the way are easy enough to figure out, and waiting is 75% of the solution. Let me tell you, it’s a real joy to ponder the solution for how you get a tree to grow and then see it happen right before your eyes. If anything, I’d have liked more puzzles peppered throughout or places to explore along the way–perhaps you come across a hill of lifeless stone effigies–but the slow pace of the game makes for a solid adventure nonetheless. Personally, I found the ending a bit abrupt and wanted more, but the journey there was really precious, a piece of gaming memory that will–if you’ll allow me just this once–stand the test of time.
You can watch me play some 400 Years in my newest “Paul Plays…” video:
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