As always, you can click on images to view larger versions.
I wonder if the experience of playing with toys on a windowsill is a universal one. Windowsills hold a particular appeal for this purpose. The wide, shallow space evokes a stage, upon which any manner of drama or comedy can be enacted — or indeed, for those of the right age, a side-scrolling video game, offering action or calm exploration depending on one’s mood. And the window itself is (literally) a portal, through which the imagination can conjure anything.
But windowsills are hardly ubiquitous. Not all homes have windows with sills, especially when considering architecture of the non-Western persuasion, and of course there are many people who are not lucky enough to enjoy their own home at all. Would the idea of playing on a windowsill then be foreign? And what about members of the youngest generation, who are growing up in a world of smartphones and other electronic devices, for whom play may take a very different form? Would they still want to play with actual, physical toys, on a physical windowsill? Is there something innate in the windowsill’s appeal, that anyone would understand?
It’s a short but beautiful experience. The player guides a little toy steam engine across a series of windowsills, each offering a puzzle to solve before the engine can proceed to a new window. But these are puzzles in a loose sense. Windosill does not aim to provide brainteasers or tough challenges, it aspires to capture the feeling of playing on a windowsill, full of fantastical contraptions, creatures, and other works of the imagination. Puzzles are really a matter of poking around, clicking on things to see what will happen, and eventually working out a pattern that produces the key needed to progress. It’s calming.
And it really does look fantastic. The simple art style allows for wonderfully fluid animation, each and every machine, object, or animal moving just as expected. And, like any good set of toys, there’s all sorts of fun to be had that’s incidental to the business at hand. Nearly everything can be clicked, whether it’s necessary in order to proceed or not, and these incidental details are a huge part of the appeal. Everything reacts beautifully, be it a spring that pops out of its box before slowly retracting, a balloon that bounces and bobs, or a creature that shies away from the mouse cursor while simultaneously displaying a cautious curiosity. These interactions form the core of Windosill, and they’re lovely.
Windosill is also the perfect length. A series of surreal and wonderful windows, leading to a beautiful finale before the experience becomes stale. Can Windosill communicate the simple joy of playing on a windowsill to someone who’s never experienced it firsthand? I don’t know, because I’m not one of those people — but it certainly recalled that joy for me. Perhaps you can test it and find out. The game is made in Flash and can run directly in a web browser, or downloaded for a slightly fancier experience. The first half is free, with the second half apparently unlocked by a quick payment of $3 (I say “apparently”, because I actually got my copy in a bundle, so it was already unlocked). Vectorpark also have several other games hosted on their site, most of which are free, and which I am now keen to try. For those who prefer their gaming to be more portable, Windosill is also available on iPad, along with several of Vectorpark’s other games (some of which are on iPhone as well).
You might find yourself grabbing some toys and seeking out a real windowsill when you’re done.