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Discover Little Stories in This Dreamlike Game

'Konbini' is a tiny game about details: the drinks you crave, the high score on the arcade machine, the conversation outside.

by Cameron Kunzelman
Jun 21 2017, 6:00pm

All images captured by editor

If you've ever been curious about what it's like to parse through the memories that people have of a convenience store, then look no further: Konbini is here.

A few years ago, game designer Nina Freeman put forward the "vignette game" as its own distinct form. Influenced by poetry in particular, Freeman argued that games can do laser-focused descriptive work about small, important situations. (Freeman and Adam Saltsman discuss this in a really interesting way on an episode of the podcast Designer Notes.)

Konbini is one of the best vignette games that I have played. The convenience store, called a "konbini" via a transnational naming apparatus that I don't fully understand, is abandoned. Faced with a tableau of growing weeks and empty windows, the player of the game simply clicks on objects around this abandoned little shack.

This takes you to some different places: You listen to the rain while reading a story of someone who is waiting for a bus. You follow the hopes of someone attempting to get an arcade game high score before time runs out. You read the story of a relationship that grows like a plant. They're all gestures, little pieces of a world, but they cohere into something that's satisfying and wonderful.

It's available in French and English, and the translation of the latter is a little clunky, but that somehow makes it better. These a little stories of heartbreak and triumph, held like memories, mumbled down a telephone line filled with static. Konbini is like a strange dream.

Konbini is available to play online here on itch.io

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