Can a Video Game Make You Cry? It’s a cliché as old as time. I think it was Steven Spielberg who brought it up in the late ’90s. The infamous gaming industry quack Peter Molyneux was obsessed with the concept around the same time. It was talked about so much at the time that the speech itself made me want to cry.
Surely people cried when Aeris died in Final Fantasy VII, others might have cried when Mario found out the princess was in another castle. All this to say that everyone has different emotional reactions to works of art, and mine is comparable to that of an unfazed cow.
I don’t know if cows can feel emotions, but I’m sure some media never made me cry. It’s not bragging, I wish I had been the type to watch a gorgeous movie or a heart-wrenching video game, but it’s just not me. I did not feel well during The last of us and I didn’t cry at the end of Titanic. Very cool and masculine, I know.
Playing Model, however, made me a little tearful.
Its developers describe Model as a “recursive first-person puzzle game”, which is technically correct, but there’s a lot more to it.
The game tells the story of a relationship that (spoiler, sorry) ends up becoming stale. He is portrayed by Bryce Dallas Howard (The Mandalorian) and her real husband Seth Gabel (Nip / Tuck), and it takes the player on a journey from the very beginning of the adventure to its depressing end.
The story unfolds as you complete puzzles built around the recursive configuration of the game. It’s a bit difficult to describe, but you basically have to manipulate objects in different sized copies of the world in which You are.
At the start of the game, you come across a mockup which is an exact replica of the larger environment you are walking around. You take a tiny little cube from the outside of the mockup and place it inside the miniature, where it forms a huge box that you can then use to walk through a space.
The concept starts out pretty straightforward, but as you dig deeper into the game you’ll have to tackle a bunch of complicated and beautifully designed challenges.
The design of the puzzle in Model is top notch and I had a lot of fun messing around to find a solution. At times the controls and mechanics were a bit finicky, but with a little patience you’ll probably get through it all without much frustration.
You don’t often see games tackling real human stories about “ mundane ” things like relationships, so it was refreshing to see Model bring up the subject. The writing and voice acting is top notch and the subject matter blends in much better with the gameplay than you would expect.
Model is available today on PC, PS4 and PS5. PlayStation Plus members get it for free as part of their subscription, others will have to pay $ 19.99. If you are looking for a well-designed puzzle game that pulls your heart out, this is well worth it.