The Gap is looking to tackle some serious subject matter is a creative way | Hands-on preview

by on August 10, 2023

There are plenty of shitty things that can happen to you in life, but one of the worst is watching a loved one dealing with health issues. As a full time carer I have first hand experience with this particular struggle, and wouldn’t wish it upon anybody. It’s a sensitive subject to base a video game on, but one I’m glad that the developers of The Gap have decided to tackle. After thirty minutes with the game, I can certainly say that they decided to go in some interesting directions.

Our protagonist Josh is a neuroscientist whose happy family life is flipped upside down when he finds out that his wife has been diagnosed with a serious disease. Distraught with this news, he becomes desperate to save the love of his life and mother of his children from this awful condition, but knows that modern medicine doesn’t hold the answers at this point in time. This leads him down some particularly radical paths, with a little bit of help from his childhood friend Chris.

A screenshot of The Gap

Chris dropped out of Josh’s class at university, and has always been a bad influence on Josh. Despite his academic shortcomings though he was scouted by a company working on nanomachines, which Josh thinks could be the only way to combat his wife’s disease. With desperation clouding his judgement, Josh signs a contract with this slightly shady company and gets a whole load of tiny machines pumped into his body in a quest to find the cure.

This goes about as badly as you’d expect, with his mind fragmenting and his consciousness getting lost in his memories. This is where we jump into the action, with Josh exploring his past in a first person puzzle game. Thanks to the nanomachines Josh can now jump from memory to memory when looking at certain pictures or letters that are related to his past, which means you’ll be exploring his college years, the painful early moments of the illness, and the family struggles to deal with the situation. It’s pretty heavy stuff, but in dealing with it there’s a chance you’ll be able to make things better.

Josh has one other idea of how to save his wife too, which is just as sci-fi and concerning as the nanomachines. Josh is looking into theories about alternate dimensions, and is hoping to find a way to cure the disease in another reality. It turns out that the nanomachines are able to help with that, because as well as jumping between memories Josh can now also hop between realities by staring at pictures. As you can imagine this gets confusing pretty quickly, especially once the puzzles are introduced.

A screenshot of The Gap

Certain memories require you to find out different facts to proceed, by reading different notes in other realities and remembering specific details. One memory transported me to the middle of a neuroscience exam and expected me to know all about the hippocampus and its brainy friends, and the answers were all in the office to find if you knew where to look. Another memory tasked me with picking the right rabbit for my daughter for Christmas, which was only possible by finding her letter to Santa in another dimension. It’s seriously clever stuff, and I’m excited to get stuck in when The Gap releases in full.

Possibly my favourite aspect of The Gap was exploring the different dimensions and memories and piecing together what was happening in them. I was in the kitchen in one dimension and all the plants were dying, and after reading a few notes I realised that I was currently in the time where we had just found out about my wife’s illness and were neglecting some chores due to stress. Another dimension saw me in a smaller apartment where Josh was a bachelor, living life without these stresses but also without his love. There are so many different (pretty dark) avenues this story could end up going down, and I’m intrigued to experience it for myself.

A screenshot of The Gap

If The Gap sounds like your sort of game and you happen to be going to Gamescom this year, then you’ll be able to try it yourself. The game will also feature in the Future Games Show there, so if this preview has left you interested in finding out more then there’s something else for you to check out.

The Gap is looking to tackle some serious subject matter in a very creative way, and I hope that developer Label This are able to pull it off. The sci-fi elements and puzzle gameplay really appeal to me too, and as long as you don’t mind taking notes as you play you’ll probably enjoy it as much as I did.

The Gap is currently planned for release in Q4, 2023.