The cliff, the deer, and the choices you make

Over Thanksgiving break, I did something unusual: I played a video game. It only took about an hour and a half to play from start to finish, and (happily) it required absolutely zero hand-eye coordination. The game is called Far from Noise, and it's available pretty much everywhere you play games: on Steam, on the PS4, or — and this is how I played it — on Apple devices.

The premise of Far from Noise is simple. You "play" as a woman sitting behind the wheel of a car. The car is balanced precariously on the edge of a steep cliff by the ocean. It seems as though the slightest movement — a squirrel perched the wrong way on the car, even — might tip you over to your death. Then a deer walks up to the car and speaks to you. You engage in a conversation with the deer that could last all night.

The only real gameplay in Far From Noise is an occasional click. The game will offer you two different choices of dialogue, and you choose the phrase you want to say by tapping it. Your choices subtly affect the gameplay, and every choice takes you down a different conversational branch.

So why am I writing about this on a book website? Well, because Far from Noise is basically a Choose Your Own Adventure story for adults, with some beautiful, lightly animated graphics laid on top. It's as much literature as comics are, and fans of introspective fiction will find a lot to enjoy.

Sure, it sometimes gets a little pretentious. And occasionally the slow pace of the game gets on my nerves. But for the most part, Far from Noise scratches the same itch that a good, funny, high-concept literary story does. It's a video game with literary roots, and there are far worse ways to spend a dark wintry afternoon.