Wide Ocean Big Jacket review for Nintendo Switch, PC

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PC
Publisher: Tender Claws
Developer: Turnfollow
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

I?ve never been camping. I?ve slept in cottages and cabins a couple of times in my life, but that?s the closest I?ve ever gotten to the great outdoors. I never went camping when I was a kid, and now that I?m well into adulthood, I?m too much of a city person to imagine it?ll ever happen, at least any time soon.

I mention this as a preamble to writing about Wide Ocean Big Jacket because it?s a pleasant enough game — about camping, obviously — that it kind of makes me think I?ve been missing out.

I mean, it would certainly help to go camping with this specific cast of characters. You have a young tween couple, Ben and Mord, just at the start of their relationship; he?s gawky and nervous, she?s goofy and weird, and when they talk, you can believe it when it they say they?ve been friends for a few years. They?re joining Mord?s aunt and uncle, Cloanne and Brad, who are old enough to be married, but not so old that they?re beyond having discussions about having kids. All four of them are nice people to be around, and their conversations all ring pretty true to life.

This is important, because Wide Ocean Big Jacket is a…walking simulator? Short narrative adventure? Interactive visual novel? To be honest, I?m not sure which of those fits best. You control each of the four characters in turn, steering them in various configurations through setting up a campsite, wandering through the woods, and sitting on the beach. They tell ghost stories around the campfire, run into some mean teens, have heartfelt conversations about sex and children, and read. Then they pack up and leave.

As you can tell, it?s all pretty low stakes, and it?s extremely low stress. But that?s the point — it?s designed to be a relaxing game you can finish in a single sitting. It?s not about the change the world, but it should be enough to put a smile on your face…and yes, maybe just make you want to go camping.

Tender Claws provided us with a Wide Ocean Big Jacket Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: A-