Surf Club follows the story of Holly, a young woman who returns to her hometown of Olive Bay in the hopes of rekindling her former relationship which ended on painful terms. The short adventure, which has an average playtime of roughly three hours is inspired “by real life experiences and locations” – namely Haines’ hometown of Noosa as she remembers it from her childhood, prior to the mass commercialisation of the Sunshine Coast beachside town.
Surf Club blends the timelines of Holly’s past with her former flame and best friend Bede in Olive Bay with the present day upon her return, with a fully interactive environment filled with characters to get to know, locations to discover, and collectables to uncover. And yes, there is surfing.
Surf Club is deeply sentimental and rooted in a time gone by, with a soft, pastel aesthetic characteristic across Haines’ work (Dollhouse and Drive Me To The Moon) which is inspired in part by a blend of magical girl anime and distinctly Australian locales. Olive Bay features flora that invokes a sense of place, toes dug into the sand of a Sunshine Coast shoreline on a warm summer’s day in the early-to-mid 2000s – albeit dipped in pastel pinks, greens and a slight haze that does make it feel like sifting back through old memories of seaside adventures.
The immersive, lo-fi maritime soundtrack behind Surf Club is led by Eli Rainsberry (No Longer Home), dipping you headfirst into Holly’s world as she tries to recover her lost love with Bede, years after they parted. While the relationship between the two characters appears to be at the forefront of the game’s story, it’s also a wider exploration of platonic and romantic relationships and how these connections change as time goes on – returning home after time away isn’t always the grand homecoming one might expect, and reliving old memories can be bittersweet.
Haines has previously shared snippets of Surf Club on her TikTok account, where one video featuring her work, captioned “the feminine urge to only make video games as a form of self-expression and make no effort to appeal to gamers” has racked up 2.6 million views.
Surf Club doesn’t have a confirmed release date just yet, but you can wishlist it on Steam for further updates as development continues – the coming-of-age tale is also planned to launch on console when it’s ready for release.
Image: Olivia Haines
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