Most video games put you in control of a strong, powerful character, ready to crush their enemies. That’s not exactly the case of Junon, The Wreck’s main protagonist. In fact, the first time you meet her, she’s… passed out on a hospital toilet floor.
This first encounter sets the tone: Junon’s having a hell of a day. She just learned that her mother, Marie, had a stroke and is now in a critical condition. And unbeknownst to Junon, Marie has designated her as her trusted advocate. Junon is going to have to make very important decisions on her mother’s behalf – and she’s not exactly thrilled.
You may wonder how the game tells you that. The thing is, with The Wreck, we wanted to make a game about intimacy, a game about how people feel, and process the things that happen to them. That’s why we decided to allow you to gain access to Junon’s reflections and feelings. When a thought pops up in her mind, it appears on screen in the shape of a big word. Activate it and you enter her mind, investigating how she reacts to what’s happening.
But as we wanted you to really connect with Junon, we thought a good way to achieve that would be to give you a way of influencing her directly. That’s why, from time to time, you’re able to orient her thoughts in a direction or another. Doing so is important because it’ll allow Junon to come up with new ideas, and thus new dialog options in the conversations she’s having.
But sometimes, helping Junon explore her feelings won’t be enough to progress. When confronted with particularly tough questions, she won’t be able to face them and she’ll decide to leave the hospital instead. Sadly, driving while upset generally isn’t a good idea, and it will inevitably get her caught in a car accident.
This part of the game is actually inspired by a real-life experience. When I was caught in a car accident a few years ago, I experienced what I thought was just a movie trope and saw fragments of my life flash before my eyes. This was a transforming experience, enough so that I decided to turn it into a game mechanic! Thus, while time slows down and items are thrown in the air around Junon, some of them become interactive and work as doorways to her past memories.
The game thus enter its second phase: the memory exploration mode. In this part, you can move the camera back and forth in the moment you’re reminiscing, looping through the different parts of the memory, looking for clues in order to help Junon figure our crucial things about her past, her relationship to her loved ones, or even herself. Once again, the idea here is to mimic the weird ways in which the brain works, and how thinking about a past experience again and again can sometimes lead us to see it in a new light.
Once you’ve cracked the secret of the memory you’re exploring, the game rewinds back to the hospital, where Junon, made stronger by this realization, is able to face the situation she once got freaked out by. This back-and-forth structure between past events and a tense present situation is our way to illustrate how experience can help us grow and be better armed for the though moments ahead.
As you and Junon progress through the day at the hospital, you meet a cast of characters that are the most important people in her life. As she faces setbacks and is, again and again, caught in that mysterious car accident, you investigate her memories and access big reveals that allow you to understand why Junon is the way she is – and how she could maybe change for the better.
And by the end of her journey, you have to make a choice for her – a choice that will define who she wants to be. Hopefully, by then, you’ll have grown intimate enough with her to make the right one.
The Wreck will release March 14 on PS4 and PS5.