When I first saw the screenshots for Sumatra: Fate of Yandi, I knew I wanted to play it. I’m a sucker for exploring exotic locales and getting lost in remote rainforests while fending off wildlife and finding ways to stay alive. What I didn’t know is that how affecting this game would be in its depiction of a place like Sumatra and the situation it and its inhabitants face in modern times.
This is something we rarely see in games at all, and I feel we need much more of. Sumatra: Fate of Yandi isn’t just a great adventure game in the mold of the Sierra classics: it brings up issues of illegal logging and environmental devastation, worker exploitation and safety, corruption and monopolization of industry, species conservation, as well as throwing into the mix themes of friendship, work/life balance and love.
There’s also a subtle, bittersweet feel to the game which makes Yandi’s journey a personal one. It contrasts scenes of urban life (via flashbacks) with journey through therainforest. And it’s those flashbacks which present urban life as more inhospitable. With the exception of Yandi’s close ones, it’s a hostile world where both wildlife and people get exploited for gain, unpaid workers are at the mercy of uncaring bosses, and science research companies conduct shady expeditions. Even with Yandi’s encounters with the rare predator (who usually just want to be left alone), the rainforest is a haven in comparison.
While most adventure games I finish I’ve forgotten within a day or two, Sumatra: Fate of Yandi has stayed with me. I think that’s because Sumatra is a real place with real people, and with the amount of research gone into the game the messages it sends are genuine, while not being preachy in the slightest. I hope more people get to play it.
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Time Played: 2-5 hours