It’s hard to believe, but Seiklus’ 10th anniversary was very recently, meaning that the game has now had a decade to heavily influence indie gaming and, to some smaller degree, mainstream gaming. Released by Cly5m on August 15th, 2003, Seiklus (Estonian for ‘adventure’) is a puzzle platformer and one of the first games with a strong emphasis on exploration – there is no plot, no weapons, no death, no dialogue and very little aim – and probably the first game to successfully pull this off (beating even Shadow of the Colossus to the punch.)
Created in six months in game-making program Game Maker, the game and its unique themes instantly became one of the first hits in the indie gaming community. Over the course of a decade, hundreds of developers – including even some mainstream publications – have cited it as a strong influence of their (usually exploration-based) games. Seiklus’ influence is likely responsible for the boom in popularity of exploration-orientated games – its influence began with games like Nifflas’ Knytt and Matt Thorson’s An Untitled Story and even reaches to more recent games like Dear Esther and Jonathan Blow’s upcoming The Witness.
Why was Seiklus so influential? Other than perhaps the Myst franchise (which is really a very slim comparison) there wasn’t really any games around that primarily focused on exploration of your environments instead of objective-based gameplay and the game proved that the gameplay worked – it wasn’t boring, which is surprising as at the time I’m sure its concept sounded so. It could also very well have been the first game to ambiguously be an ‘art game’, thus sparking up an ever-lasting debate about whether video games qualify as a legitimate art form.
Whether it’s a piece of art or not may be debatable, but there’s no debate that it’s had a lasting effect on the industry and played its part in the dawn of one of game’s more unique genres. If you haven’t played it before, download the game here.