Take 10 Minutes to Play This Beautiful Hand-Painted Game

Who’d have thought a ten-minute game could be so bittersweet?

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Dec 5 2015, 1:00pm

Image: ECV Bordeaux.

It might not look like it, but the girl with the paintbrush you see in the picture above is making a video game. When we think of game development, we usually think of people in offices working late hours in front of a computer, and while After School certainly required some of that, it's the kind of craft you see in the image above that makes it special.

After School is a collaboration between students in Game Art at ECV Bordeaux school of visual communication and developer Atelier Sentô. It's a melancholy study on unrequited love and its visual art was created entirely by hand. Gentle watercolors and lovingly imperfect characters paint a picture of what it's like to long for someone who doesn't even know you exist.

More interactive fiction than traditional video game, After School takes a peek into the life of a young girl who walks home from school each day and passes a very special home. It's her crush's house, and she can see straight into his window.

Image: ECV Bordeaux.

He appears to be buried in a book each time she passes by, and after ruminating on what could be if she spoke to him, the girl makes her short trek home. On her way there, visions of what could be haunt her, until one day she makes a very important wish. Though the game's only about ten minutes long, this is the turning point where your perspective on the girl's life as well as the game itself will be turned on its head.

Everything about After School is painfully real in a way that so many of us can relate to: watching the ones we love the most going about their everyday activities and feeling unable to (or unwilling to) express how we feel.

The mood and atmosphere, especially the accompanying soundtrack, is evocative in its own way, giving an eerie feel to what's actually a very simple and clever exercise in storytelling. It's an impressive little experiment, especially since it was made in only two days.

After School is available for free via itch.io.