Chasing the Unseen is a delightfully strange and meditative take on Shadow of the Colossus, where the giant beasties can’t hurt you and your mission is to climb

Heading into Chasing the Unseen, I was expecting Shadow of the Colossus, but without the sword. What I got instead was a delightfully weird, mindful little experience about climbing—and after spending most of my time this week shooting bugs for Super Earth and desperately trying to learn tabletop rules for my gaming group, it’s just what I needed.

You play a teeny-tiny monk exploring a surreal network of floating islands. You’ve got a glider, a Breath-of-the-Wild style climbing button, and a jump—that’s it. It’s a completely stripped-back experience filled with eerie music, and while its beasties are a touch unsettling at first glance, Chasing the Unseen isn’t really trying to scare you.

(Image credit: Strange Shift Studio)

Its big, sprawling levels are difficult to navigate and a touch frustrating at times, but it’s worth getting over that initial hump. For a game about climbing, scaleable surfaces are actually pretty rare—instead, you’re meant to shuffle your way through awkward, winding routes, navigating on precarious ledges while the world yawns away beneath you. It’ll have you asking: “I can probably survive that fall, right?” a lot.

For completionists, the capybaras are where it’s at. These little critters are your excuse to actually explore Chasing the Unseen’s bizarre levels. Otherwise, your mission is to get to the top—that’s it. 

If we’re going to draw a direct comparison to Shadow of the Colossus here, I think the coolest thing Chasing the Unseen does with the concept is turn the colossi from antagonists to be slain (mournfully, sure, but slain nonetheless) into bumbling, relatively harmless megafauna. I eventually started treating them like old friends.

(Image credit: Strange Shift Studio)

I can’t tell whether the tense music that accompanied my rides with Mr. Octopus was some misplaced sound design or actually kind of the point—emotions like anxiety, fear, and panic can feel scary, but one of the first things you learn when trying to grapple with them is that they can’t actually hurt you. Sure, you might get flung into the void every now and then, but you always come back.

It’s all very mindful, which isn’t surprising considering Chasing the Unseen’s meditative vibes and clear Buddhist influences.

Chasing the Unseen, ultimately, is a delightfully weird and soothingly introspective game. If you’re in need of a palette cleanser from all the live-service nonsense whirling about in the industry right now, I’d heartily recommend it. You can buy Chasing the Unseen right now on Steam.

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