Panoramical is less of a game and more of an experience. You create music and breathtaking scenery on the fly. It’s an art game with heavy emphasis on “art”, you would expect to see this as an interactive exhibit in a modern art museum so people can play around with it. This is one of those rare cases when such a game has replay value depending on the person.
You start the game with a short tutorial. The game is pretty simple, using your mouse and keyboard (or gamepad, or even a MIDI compatible instrument!) you change the position of two axis in each of nine squares. Every square controls a different instrument and it has a different effect on the landscape. Horizontally it correlates with notes and vertically with volume, so you have a mini orchestra of nine sounds. Visually, it varies. It might change color, brightness or saturation, it might create new shapes and change their motion, location and form, or the way the entire scene is presented. There are a lot of variations in each “level”.
You can even play around in the intro and the level hub!
Music is half the game. The dynamic score was created by the award winning David Kanaga, known for his work in Proteus. It is seriously good, but there is a problem: with 9 simultaneous tracks, some sounds are not gonna mesh well together even if the visual result is amazing you’ll have to choose something to sacrifice so everything is in harmony.
That is a big goal for a game that intends to create ambiance, and one not so easy to achieve. Do you push for dreamlike worlds and relaxing patterns or a catchy beat and groovy sounds?
Panoramical looks positively psychodelical. I would imagine this would look great hooked up with a projector at a trendy bar so the patrons can toy around with it, with the sound muted of course as to avoid a cacophony. It reminds me a lot of Pink Floyd for some reason, and even more of Electric Sheep (check it out, it’s a pretty awesome project). The truth is that it is indeed relaxing and a perhaps a better way to blow off steam than playing a game that raises your heartbeat and releases adrenaline- seriously, if you wanted to relax why would you even do that?- and even a great way to meditate if you’re into that.
It’s hard to describe a game that lacks proper gameplay. You are more like an audiovisual DJ than a gamer here. The controls are smooth and easy to use, but you won’t be doing much of that. I sat a few minutes, immersing myself in the screen and the sounds before changing one or two squares and repeated. It’s like staring at a dream, or an alien planet, a combination of both, more.
Pass the popcorn.
A true feast for the senses (except those that aren’t sight and hearing), it’s the best way to end your day to de-stress. It has 15 different scenarios to choose from, which seems short but you can alter them in 18 different ways to transform them in places distinct enough that you can’t tell it’s the same place sometimes.
It’s beautiful and it knows it, a feature to link to Twitter allows you to instantly share either a screenshot or a video of a few seconds with a piece of automatically generated text- you don’t even have to type anything!- so everyone can see how much fun you’re having exploring colorful and mysterious worlds.
The only thing this is missing is VR support. If you enjoy art, either creating it or watching it and fancy yourself a musician (or if you like music at all) I strongly suggest you buy this game. It’s good for meditating, relaxing, playing around and if you mute the sound you can create surreal landscapes for your favorite music!