Jivitam

PC, Android

Here’s an interesting quickie – a hidden object game inspired by Srikalahasti Kalamkari art.

It’s an ideal choice, the intricate drawing style superbly suited to hiding details, and each scene here is lavishly drawn and sometimes even animated. Jivitam tells the story of the life of a person, from birth to death, each scene varying in how it’s solved. What you’re supposed to be doing on any particular screen is part of the puzzle.

This begins traditionally enough, with three hidden objects within the black and white picture. (And yes, from my own hurried research it seems a fairly fundamental aspect of traditional Kalamkari art is the colouring with natural dyes, but that’s eschewed here in favour of a more traditional, post-Hidden Folks monochrome hidden object approach.) But as you progress, you might be asked to interact with a scene in a different way, yours to find by experimentation.

This short game is definitely at its best to play when it sticks to more traditional puzzles, with other levels a little anticlimactic when you figure out what you’re supposed to click on. (And I should mention that one such level leads to some fairly hefty strobing effects, so definitely avoid this if you’re photosensitive.) However, the joy of this is the art, and the puzzling is almost secondary to appreciating the sumptuous drawing. This is the work of one person, Suri (సూరి), and his work merits just sitting and studying.

There is unquestionably a lot more that could have been done with this. It’s a shame that the intricately crafted images don’t have more things hidden amongst them, to flesh this out into a more substantial hidden object game. It’s also a shame that the objects themselves don’t better tie into the story of this regular guy’s life. As much as I heartily recommend spending a couple of pounds on this, just to appreciate the artwork, it’s definitely a shame it’s not a better hidden object game.

However, as a creation unlike anything else I’ve seen, it’s a joyous piece of art. According to my Google Translating, Jivitam means The Living, and I love that this game aspires to its stated goal on its Steam page, “to experience life of a common man from beginning to end of his life in an interesting way.” (Also, a puerile part of me is delighted to discover that the Hindu word “Vidyarambham” – a title of one of the game’s scenes – means “school of thought”, which really reframes the inane nonsense spouted by people who say “vidya”.)

It could have been more, but all it is manages to be enough: a beautiful piece of art. And for £2 (or just 89p on Android), it’s a half hour well spent.

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