Get Lost in the Alien Cityscapes of 'Bernband'

Somewhere, right now, on a distant planet, is the glittering city of the Pff. The free game Bernband is your ticket there.

by Jack de Quidt
Oct 25 2016, 2:30pm

​​I first played Bernband, by Tom van den Boogaart, about six months ago and I haven't played it since. I was sitting cross-legged on a spare bed in a friend's house and it was very hot, and between the sound of the fan and the sound of the city outside, the game wormed its way into my head, where it stayed.

Here is what I remember about Bernband. There is an alien city that glitters and rumbles and opens itself out to you in a warren of corridors and plazas. Its citizens stand in groups by fountains and shops, sit on stools in bars, gather to watch television. There is a school and a class of alien children. At one point I encountered an alien staring transfixed at a large fish tank and, later, found my way through a series of pipes into the tank itself. The alien blinked at me.

There are words in the game, but they're spoken in a language you don't understand and never will. There is no map other than the one you find yourself constantly revising: "So the overpass leads to the train station leads to the apartment block, and so, and so, and so…"

You are never exactly quite sure where you stand with any of the city's inhabitants, and in response, you constantly move at a brisk pace. Perhaps you're afraid of outstaying your welcome. Perhaps you're curious as to what lies at the end of a corridor, green lights blinking.

I got up from the bed and tried to open a window, but the frame was broken, so I dragged the fan in from next door. As I came back into the room the heat pressed down on me and I caught a glimpse of Bernband's city on my laptop's screen.

Little flying cars rushed through the air, tall alien skyscrapers shimmered in the background. Everybody in those cars had somewhere to go, I know it. It was too far to see them, but people were looking out of each bright coloured window of the skyscrapers, I promise.

You can play Bernband for free, right now, here. If you search for the game, Google will autocomplete your query to "bernband map," but you don't need a map, do you. Do you?

tom van den boogart