On March 11th, 2011, a 9.03-magnitude undersea earthquake triggered tsunami waves that devastated many parts of the Tohoku region of Eastern Japan. The tsunami took thousands of buildings, homes, and lives, and remains the strongest earthquake ever recorded in Japan. Dams, power pants, power lines, and thousands of other properties sustained damages from the natural disaster also making it one of the costliest and deadliest natural disasters that even literally shook the Earth, shifting its axis by approximately 10 centimeters. Most importantly however, were the lives that were lost in the tragedy. From Space Budgie comes 9.03m, a game that’s not so much a game as it is an short, interactive memorial.
The objective is very simple: find the butterflies. You are placed on a beach where you may follow a trail of floating lights to come across the figure of a person. As you approach them, they disappear leaving an object behind, such as a soccer ball with someone’s name written on it, referring to one that was actually found washed ashore in Alaska. There is a butterfly somewhere on every object that reveals something about the item and the person/people it belonged to. Its subtlety can tell stories without saying a word, and that’s what makes 9.03m such a beautiful experience before its tragic context.
It doesn’t strive to be your traditional game, but is rather a vehicle for its message of remembrance for the lives that were lost in the tragedy. It’s an emotional stroll that expresses a quiet and elegant mourning, augmented by its art style and sound design, enveloping the experience into something memorable and haunting.
9.03m captures the essence of mortality and humanity in an unforgettable way. It’s not something I can attach a score to, as it’s not really a game. Nevertheless, 9.03m is an experience and a valuable lesson in the art of storytelling, as it pays its respects to the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake with great respect, elegance, and beauty.
You can purchase 9.03m on Steam for $1.99. The royalties collected will be given to Aid For Japan, a charity that helps children who lost their parents in the tsunami.