All the reviews for Virginia said, “If you like Twin Peaks, you’ll love this game.” That is really the only convincing I need — that and the Steam sale.
So, I picked up this little game and played the entire thing. In two hours. Yep, only two hours. But that two hours was jam-packed with a very David Lynchian tale; one that I am still processing.
In Virginia, you play through the eyes of Anne Tarver, a rookie FBI Special Agent in the summer of 1992. She is tasked with not only investigating the disappearance of a young boy named Lucas, but also her partner, Maria Halperin, who apparently has been doing her own investigations into the FBI. Through the course of the game, the investigation only grows more mysterious and potentially supernatural. Anne attempts to conceal her investigation into Maria, while growing closer to her, as well.
The entire story is told without any dialogue. And there isn’t much for the player to do, except to experience the story. All I needed was my mouse to move Anne around and interact with the necessary objects to move the game along. That might not seem too thrilling to the average gamer, but I’m a story-driven gamer, so this was right up my alley. Unlike Telltale games or Life is Strange, your actions are already set, so you just do what the game wants you to do. Not having any agency might not be some people’s cup of tea, but it allowed me to relax and simply concentrate on the story. But it did take me up until about the first 30 minutes to stop looking closely at every single thing in every room. I had to remind myself: it’s not Fallout, I don’t need healing items or ammo.
What makes this game truly remarkable, however, are the visuals. You are sometimes on a normal course of your investigation day — in the car with Maria, at the coffee shop, walking down a hallway — while at other moments, you are flashing from horrifying visual to the next, trying to make sense of how all the pieces are connected. And the last 15 minutes truly take the player on a stunningly confusing visual ride, all with the backdrop of an amazing score. Anne and Maria’s trust in one another is tested and culminates in the climax of the story that leads us down a dark path with an ending that the viewer can interpret for themselves. I’m still trying to figure out what it all means.
If you have a couple hours to spare and are a fan of David Lynch/Twin Peaks/X-Files, I’d recommend picking this game up. It was a fun ride, one that I’ll likely play again (since I somehow didn’t get all the Steam achievements!). If nothing else, pick this game up to support indie game developers, such as 505 Games, so that unique games like Virginia can continue to be developed.