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About the Story
You never know what will be the last thing you say to someone. On a transport ship leaving earth, a passenger kills time by scrolling through the messages of their social media feed. As the ship leaves and moves further and further away from home, the delay between sending messages and their arrival lengthens. What feels like minutes on the ship is hours, days, weeks, even years back on Earth. Each refresh of the timeline is a tiny window into the past. What will you do in those precious few moments as the lives of everyone you know pass by?
The Tragic And Hilarious Adventure That Is 'Killing Time At Lightspeed'
"Asimov meets Orwell, a dark adventure into a world having taken a divergent path from today's earth, one which perhaps exists for the sole reason of showing us the human condition will be the same regardless of how advanced we become."
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Rock Paper Shotgun
Wot I Think: Killing Time At Lightspeed
"Something I’m very much looking forward to is seeing the visual novel increasingly mature away from creepy adolescent dating simulators toward more interesting topics. It’s already happening, of course, but it’s safe to say the genre has a “norm”. A lovely example of something utterly different is Killing Time At Lightspeed, a science fiction tale of future technologies and future travel, told through the medium on social media."
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|Average Rating: |
Number of Reviews: 2
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I'm jealous of Killing Time at Lightspeed. Like many great works, this piece appears deceptively easy to create and design, and it evokes my "I could do that" trigger.
That's a testament to the real brilliance behind the work. Great minds make difficult concepts appear obvious and self-evident, and Gritfish has done that with this minimalist work about relationships, society, and how we adapt to great changes and shifts.
At times, the UI feels a little clunky, but never detracts from the experience; I just wish it was easier to switch between all tabs and refresh.
I haven't played the expanded version, but would like to; I hope it adds more depth and a slower pace to the work. This is my one real complaint about the experience, and it's both a strength and a weakness. On one hand, the surface level interactions is important and realistic; on the other, it leads to leaving some of the most interesting questions unexamined. I like that we're not treated to pages of backstory, but I'd love some exploration of why we're leaving space. Why aren't our friends more upset? Why don't they ever ask us? It wouldn't require much, not even a shift in the focus, but it feels like there should be more communication about what amounts to a massive change in our friendships and relationships.
It makes the piece feel more like speculative fiction than the exploration of human relationships it seems to be reaching for, and I'd love to see some more time and energy put into fleshing out what the protagonist meant to the people they've left behind.
The main conceit of the game, social media accelerated through Einstein relativity, is very clever and interesting. The story that is told, focusing mainly on cybernetics, is pretty good, and is mostly told through news articles, a conceit that I like; mechanically, it feels similar to The Endling Archive, Orwell, Analogue A Hate Story, or my own Life on Mars. However, the writer frequently inserts references of parodies of our world, of clickbait and witty twitter things, in a way that really took me out of it.
My main criticism lies with the social media aspect of the game. When I compare the blurb (see your friends grow old and you have to say goodbye to them) to the game experience, it's really underwhelming. As far as I can tell, there's not much you get to change, no branching paths, and things just deflate at the end in an underwhelming way (or, given content gets scarce, in a way that feels like the author's deadline was approaching). The characters are well-defined, but they don't change very much over the 10-20 year period, and nothing feels sad or wistful about it because you're not spending that much time with them after all (it's literally the concept of the game). More interactions with them would have been nice (like at the beginning, to establish relationships more), but I think the game also lacks a voice for our character, a possibility to express sadness, nostalgia, grief, etc. (Especially at the end.) There's a discrepancy between our experience (20 minutes on facebook) and theirs (decades), but it's a bit hollow and doesn't come accross very clearly, and it doesn't seem to matter to anybody (at least, i didn't feel involved, or with any urgency - especially since the tone stays the same throughout). It's a shame, because it's the central device of the game, and I feel like it didn't quite pull it off. An interesting game nonetheless!
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