That Night, Steeped By Blood River is a long night of anxious vignettes

There’s an ephemeral, anxious mood I often find myself looking for in games. A sense of long, sleepless anxiety, the kind of anxious melancholy that hits after a few too many drinks in a town I don’t quite know too well. That, I think, is what I walked away from Taylor Swietanski’s That Night, Steeped By Blood River feeling, a short series of dreamless vignettes where nothing but the signature you scrawl on the hotel room door is certain.

Helps that it’s bloody gorgeous, mind.

Released last week, Steeped By Blood River is another videogame-slash-poem from the creator of caged bird don’t fly caught in a wire sing like a good canary come when called – a piece that, if nothing else, is a wordcount-anxious writer’s best friend.

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Liminal Spaces“, the kind of in-between nowhere spaces trapped between somewhere else and nothing-in-particular. Shopping centres after dark, airport lounges in the early morning. Swietanski’s empty rooms feel like they’d fit right into this lineup of half-remembered voids perfectly, a lineup of fuzzy, hard-to-make-out locations that come with an undercurrent of deeply isolating anxiety.

Curtain; effortlessly stylish transitions that, while more fluid, immediately call to mind Blendo Games’ Thirty Flights Of Loving.

Most of all, though, Swietanski’s work rings heavily of the kinds of stuff I was dabbling in before I burned out of game development. There is, perhaps, a selfish joy in seeing these ideas take form in ways I couldn’t possibly have imagined.

That Night, Steeped By Blood River is free to download over on Itch.

Posted by Editor