I’m a huge fan of Cowleyfornia Studios’ first game, Sarawak. It is a profoundly phenomenal narrative experience that whisked me away on an expertly written adventure across exotic landscapes. Its gorgeous and unique art style alongside its crafty puzzles and evocative story helped establish the developer’s trademark style. So, when I heard that their second title, We’ll Always Have Paris, was coming out, I was more than excited. Fortunately, their sophomore game is every bit as fantastic as their debut masterpiece and easily cements them as one of my all-time favourite developers.
“Simply put, while not as complex as Sarawak, We’ll Always Have Paris is once again a gorgeous work of art.”
Like its predecessor, We’ll Always Have Paris is an astoundingly beautiful game. It utilises the simplicity of its visuals to its advantage, taking block colours and faceless characters to evoke a sense of forgetfulness and disorientation. However, the lack of complexity in the visuals does not mean that they are lacking detail. In fact, the opposite is true.
We’ll Always Have Paris makes use of little intricacies to perfectly convey the beauty of a memory, recreating locations, food or games in the developer’s unique signature art style. It is in these moments that the simplicity of the backgrounds works beautifully in conjunction with the finer details to make the player focus on what really matters.
It is this mastery over both style and direction that sets apart Cowleyfornia Studios’ narrative experiences from everyone else. Every piece of visual flair feels entirely purposeful, intended to convey whatever emotion or message is needed at that precise moment. It has all been so expertly executed in a way that leaves the player feeling completely and utterly engrossed throughout. Simply put, while not as visually complex as Sarawak, We’ll Always Have Paris is once again a gorgeous work of art.
“This is a wonderfully heartfelt character-driven narrative that perfectly balances its themes of loss, memory and love.”
Of course, the same quality and passion that has been put into We’ll Always Have Paris’ incredible visuals has also been applied to its writing and story. While it is rather brief – taking anywhere between 40 and 60 minutes to see to the end – the narrative being told here is so beautifully written, so emotionally charged, that it’s impossible not to feel genuinely affected by it.
Cowleyfornia Studios have woven a wonderfully heartfelt character-driven narrative that perfectly balances its themes of loss, memory and love. It is a story told with passion, one whose phenomenally written words are so filled with life that you’ll forget it lacks any form of voice acting. I found myself on more than one occasion swelling with emotion as the writing so gracefully pieced together the deteriorating life of a couple so filled with love.
Of course, it is a sombre experience, one filled with pain and misery as it details the struggles of dealing with dementia in a respectful and impactful way. However, We’ll Always Have Paris is also incredibly nuanced and goes beyond the negative. The moments in which it allows you to reflect on the happiness that once permeated the couple’s life are truly magnificent. It allows you, if only for a moment, to escape into a whimsical fantasy and away from the horrors of reality. It is this ability, to simultaneously show the beauty and sadness behind memories, that makes We’ll Always Have Paris such a compelling and meaningful experience. This is an audacious achievement in astoundingly talented writing and absolutely worth experiencing for yourself.
“We’ll Always Have Paris makes me hopeful that the future of narrative-driven video games is extremely bright.”
It is hard to find fault with We’ll Always Have Paris. Sure, it may be a tad on the short side, but its extremely low price point and exceptionally compelling narrative more than alleviate this frankly minor issue. This is one of the most powerful, evocative and memorable games that I’ve ever played and it will remain on my mind for quite some time. It makes me excited to see what other stories Cowleyfornia Studios has to tell, and hopeful that the future of narrative-driven video games is extremely bright.
You can pick up We’ll Always Have Paris on Steam and mobile devices for only £3.99.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on PC, code was provided by the Publisher.