I'm about to look like I'm growing up, which embarrasses me horribly, but when I was younger (I mean at least 10 years younger and usually more) video games seemed much more magical. They may have been tiny, self contained worlds, but they really felt like entire worlds and even though LucasArts never programmed in what lay behind those bushes in Loom and Sierra never designed faces or wrote backstories for the entire ship's crew who must have died in King's Quest VI, you better believe I filled in all of that in my head. Not as some kind of creative exercise either, but it just naturally popped in there as the logical extension of what the designers must have intended.
Where am I going with this? After my first few years of the wonder that was video games, it became harder and harder to play games on that visceral level and as it became more of an intellectual activity (and that isn't bad, they've never stopped being fun.)
Chulip is the first game I've played in awhile that I haven't stopped to analyze even the slightest bit while playing it, because I'm too enchanted by it. This doesn't stop me from thinking critically about it later (y'know, since I'm doing so now) but from the moment I load my game I become too absorbed in their bizarre dialogues Stoo (my character) has with Yam (the love of his life), or the voyeuristic way he crawls into the giant pipe she calls home to watch her while she's sleeping (and the guilty feeling I have when I go inside and she's still awake), or spying on the Underground Residents, watching them talk about their menial jobs with their creepy Silent Hill-reminiscent bodies. The weird part is, mechanics-wise it's barely even a game.
Incidentally, the last time I felt that way about the game was right when Katamari came out. I remember myself and the room full of people I played it in were just too damn delighted to say anything about it except "Oh my god!" "That's so awesome!" and once and awhile "That's so weird!" between levels. And, it was awesome.
So, um, here's to games that are completely immersive while playing them, but still awesome to talk about afterwards!