22 June 2024
American Arcadia tells the story of Trevor and his peculiar life, mixing side scroller moments with first-person stealth mechanics.

Routine, I think we’ve all felt the weight of it, or if you haven’t, congratulations, you have a much more interesting life than me! I just have this hobby, of looking for cool titles and sharing them with you. In this case, I didn’t even have to search much. Since the release of Call of the Sea, the Out of the Blue Games studio has carved a space in my heart. American Arcadia thus marked its territory as an interesting experience.

Trevor resides in the bustling Arcadia, a retro-futuristic metropolis of the 70s. Trevor, in many ways, reflects many of us. He holds a job that pays the bills but doesn’t find it fulfilling, avoids nightlife, lives with a turtle, possesses a gaming console, and a piano. Though he prefers keeping his creative side within his comfort zone, the piano remains a safe haven, offering solace from the monotony of work.

American Arcadia is viewed as a utopia but doubles as a reality show watched by masses daily. It combines elements akin to George Orwell’s 1984 book and series like Westworld. The inhabitants live secluded within a dome, unaware of the external world, being filmed 24/7. Visitors can experience a few days in Arcadia, indulging in the wild ’70s, but strict regulations bar modern technology or clothing beyond a certain point.

As a reality show reliant on viewer interest, Trevor becomes a problem—a character lacking the allure that engages the audience. Consequently, he’s slated for elimination, guided discreetly out of Arcadia, seemingly on a paradise getaway. However, Trevor’s regular viewer, a resistance member abroad, warns him of being a targeted individual.

Angela becomes the bearer of grim truths, revealing Trevor’s reality. However, she is also the guide to his salvation during his desperate and haphazard escape. It’s interesting to see how American Arcadia plays with the two types of views of each playable character. With Trevor, the player has a wide view in 2.5D, where the character only moves to one side, as if the viewer were Angela watching all the action on her workstation screen. All of this while guiding him through a hotel, a shopping center and places full of props of the most different types. As Angela, a hacker, she is equipped with mechanics that allow controlling doors, or control alarm systems that help Trevor in his adventure. All the sections with Angela are spent in a first-person 3D view with stealth elements. The blend of these viewpoints stands out as a highlight in this title—a stroke of brilliance!

Each new section immerses the player in an enriching experience that keeps the action fresh. Whether in terms of platforms, mixed with small puzzles with simple mechanics placing platforms in the right places, passing through sections with vibrant orange-hued rooms, ending in psychedelic moments with sublime art elements that offer new perspectives of the tormented mind of Trevor. With Angela, the puzzles can be a bit more complicated. The stealth sections are quite fun and the attention to what surrounds the player is also super important. Angela’s segments also unveil story twists through subtle clues, urging players to scrutinize every detail.

It’s impossible not to root for this dynamic duo to emerge victorious from the clutches of this television show. It is especially interesting to understand the concept of victory from Trevor’s perspective, at the end of his adventure. American Arcadia thus enters to my top Indie Games of the year.