Serenity Force is a developer whose catalog varies wildly but generally sticks to a single guiding principle: change the way you think. With Land of Screens we get a direct call to put down our phones for a bit and talk to the ones around us. It’s an important message that the game does its best to ask politely which is as endearing as it is preachy. The game begins with our hero, Holland silently debating how to post to her social media that she and her boyfriend of five years had just broken up. It’s a universal quandary — you don’t want to sound too happy or too sympathetic, and it’s a fine line to walk. Before she can figure out which inflection is best, her ex gets his post out first and her whole world is thrown into upheaval. But instead of focusing on the comments, she decides to take a much needed trip to see her family and disconnect for a bit.
It’s through this journey that Holland reconnects with her old friends from high school and college, rediscovers nature, networks for her career and even gets some much needed family support. These events take place in a point and click adventure style format. You control Holland moving around a scene, engaging in conversations and solving simple issues by introducing people or solving their concerns with simple conversation. There’s rarely any puzzle too complex, and all are easily solved within a couple of minutes.
Land of Screens happens in a rich, vibrant world with a vibe reminiscent of A Night In The Woods, with a soundtrack full of the lo-fi beats which are all the rage in indie games nowadays (but I’m not complaining.) That said, with such a short game and minimal environments, tracks do tend to feel samey, with the music on loop for however long it takes for you to finish that area’s puzzle. A little more variety in both level design and music could go a long way here.
The real shining star of Land of Screens is Holland herself. She grows from an antisocial phone addicted nobody to a flourishing confident social butterfly willing to put herself out there as she gets distance between her and her past. This maturation of Holland is demonstrated with each progressing scene, where she is repeatedly tasked with more and more reasons to convince others to get outside of their comfort zones and have conversations. From the onset, it starts with her dreading and even avoiding having conversations with even people she knows. But, as the story progresses, the motivation to have discussions stops being a necessity and starts to be a welcome challenge for Holland, and it shows in her demeanor.
The rest of the cast of Land of Screens acts as constant reminder of the most extreme cases of screen addiction. The examples range from the cringey hot take poster trolling online to children and their Nintendo Switches. The examples range pretty far to all facets of society but often come off as preachy with reminders the size of a house. The message is important but I find its impact is negated when presented in such extreme eye-rolling scenarios. Yes, we definitely know someone who’s addicted to Facebook scrolling, but when even grandma won’t put down her tablet to talk to you all subtlety is lost.
Land of Screens is a nice breezy story of a young woman’s path to reclaiming her confidence in a world of too much technology. It’s not groundbreaking or particularly poignant but it is a nice palette cleanser that serves up a fresh idea with some stumbles on execution. Holland is a great realistic character audiences can grab onto and her level of growth is something to aspire to. She isn’t perfect, but no one is. The important thing to remember is even when we stumble, we can still grow if we just look up once in awhile.
A Steam key was provided to us for the purposes of this review.