I’m one of those weird people that actually enjoys the liminal spaces of travel—hotels, train stations, and yes, airports—but even I have my limits. I might be having a chill time reading a book in a food court that only smells a little like a one-thousand-year-old Panda Express, but if I hear that my flight’s been delayed, all bets are off.
Brownie Cove Cancelled (via Rock Paper Shotgun) is a free PC game that attempts to capture the bleak hopelessness of that situation—when your flight gets delayed by multiple hours, and suddenly, all the colour drains from your day. The game’s airport is an over-saturated dreamscape, one that aptly simulates the languid, draining pace of airport life as travellers slowly cook under sickly fluorescent lights.
Mundane airport tasks like milling about near stores and food courts and staring at art nobody really cares about intermingle with more pointed strangeness, like floating fish that look like they’re constantly phasing between dimensions, a hall of mirrors that gives way to a room of whispering shadows, and a graveyard that might be a little too on the nose.
All the while, other stranded travellers wander aimlessly, reciting what I’m pretty sure are negative reviews of airport experiences. Your character, meanwhile, moves with the urgency of someone who’s fallen into quicksand and, after struggling for a minute or two, accepted their grim fate. After all, where is there to go? There are also quite a few toilets just out in the open, for some reason.
It is, in some ways (see: the aforementioned whispering shadow room), more interesting than an actual airport, but like an actual airport, it gets old very quickly. That’s the point, I’m pretty sure. But I always enjoy games that reinterpret spaces we’ve all existed in and, in some cases, suffered through—especially when they’re locations most people consider boring or obligatory. It’s a cool way to learn exactly how those things feel for other people, to view them through a lens that’s familiar but also alien.
I’m still not sure about the whole toilet thing, though.