Force Majeure II: The Zone

Developer:  Leo Nordwall
Publisher:  Interacting Arts
Year Released:  2005

Review by Steve Ramsey with thoughts by Elizabeth Argall (January, 2006)
Force Majeure II: The Zone Screenshot The Zone is:
"slow, philosophical, sad, mellow, absurd, queer, multi-interpretable, and a little world to explore".

The Zone is not:
"full of fancy animations, a game about puzzle solving or using motor skills, a story about heroes or possible to fully comprehend".

So says the maker.

The Voice says, how do you know you aren't really dreaming?

Part 1 was a live improvisation piece, Part 2 is this interactive story.

A force majeure is something independent of the will and not within a person's power to control. By contrast to the event that created it, the Zone is not beyond the ability to control. It's a place where the rules are what you make them or at least imagine them to be. Or dream them. Each to their own in the Zone, and know the Zone to know yourself.

I think
Force Majeure II: The Zone Screenshot The Zone is a discordant place, accompanied by a discordant and unsettling soundtrack. The two are perfectly matched and meshed. It's a finite place, with infinite places; worlds within worlds if you will, like reflections in a mirror. It contains the mundane (a pile of rocks) and the bizarre (a talking porcelain elephant). And lots more. Reality, consciousness, being, existence, self; they are all in the Zone.

Force Majeure II: The Zone is self described as an interactive story, and you read and read and click and read your way along. Not like a traditional game, but gaming elements uncover the experience.

"You are the sole survivor of an unknown catastrophe, trapped in an air-raid shelter. Escaping your confinement, you face a delusional reality known only as the Zone ? a place where your own mind is your enemy. The city is in ruins: explore a dreamy landscape through the eyes of a lone wanderer trying to piece together fragments of the past".

So says the maker.

Elizabeth is my friend and writes her own comics, designs role play scenarios and plays improvisation theatre games. Elizabeth says "This was reminiscent of some challenging and experimental 'real life' role playing games - it was fascinating to contemplate the improvisation that generated this sequel and how the improv had shaped the computer game. I did not feel like I was disadvantaged in not having experienced the predecessor. Due to the nature of the medium and structure of the game it was linear in some ways, yet it was also open ended - directed but not constrained, blank enough for the participants to imprint their own thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and to argue with the designer. Visually interesting, intellectually engaging".

Therefore I am
Force Majeure II: The Zone ScreenshotThe Zone contains others, Zone Wanderers black and white, a psychogeographer, and ordinary folk like you. Drawings, images, photos and videos; a pastiche of visual imagery.

Find things, use things, click and move on. The story is the thing. Or rather, the ideas within the story. Linger too long and they will move you forward. There is no getting stuck within the Zone. But can you ever leave?

Maybe. Find the white room and we will see.

Force Majeure II: The Zone is an existential experience, a place to ponder and question traditional constructs. I pondered, was perplexed, and intrigued, and have been back twice to the beginning. Short but deep. The white room still challenges me.

But what of the stars? Those ones below, I mean. With eyes and mind wide open, and forewarned about the nature of the journey, the stars are what they are.

"If you feel that issues such as philosophy, poetry, metaphysics and art is your cup of tea, the story might interest you. If not, the irreal meanderings of the Zone is best left alone".

So says the maker.

You can puchase Force Majeure II: The Zone from Interactive Arts. rating:  

Copyright © Steve Ramsey with thoughts by Elizabeth Argall 2006. All rights reserved.

System Requirements:
Windows 95 or above (runs fine on XP), Pentium processor, 32 MB RAM, DirectX 5 or higher, DirectX compatible sound and graphics cards.