An Autumn With You
An Autumn With You is a short and nonviolent Game Boy adventure game that you can play for free in your browser window. You are Daynese, who is five and three quarters years old, and you’ve just moved with your parents from the city to your nana’s house in the country.
On the game’s Itchio page, the creator says An Autumn With You was inspired by My Neighbor Totoro, and I can see the influence. The forest around your nana’s house is home to magical creatures called Wichu that are attracted to acts of kindness. As her parents deal with their own issues, Daynese explores the beautiful area around her new house and makes a friend.
The interesting pull from My Neighbor Totoro isn’t the forest creatures, however; it’s the way Daynese creatively engages with her environment in to help her process what’s going on with her parents. Like Mei and Satsuki’s father, Daynese’s mother is a scholar working on a manuscript, and her writing schedule is intense. Meanwhile, Daynese’s father seems to have lost his job, and the family couldn’t afford to stay in the city on an academic salary.
I imagine this situation will be spookily relatable to the many Millennial parents who had to move back in with their own parents during the pandemic, or perhaps during the prolonged economic depression preceding it. Daynese is five (and three quarters) years old, and she just wants to play outside. Meanwhile, her parents aren’t doing well. In between Daynese’s jaunts into the forest, the player watches her parents gradually break down while her grandmother stands outside and waits for the storm to pass.
The main narrative drive of An Autumn With You is figuring out whether Daynese’s parents are going to be okay. It’s a short game that should take about ten to fifteen minutes to play, but I nevertheless managed to become extremely invested the story.
Unfortunately, a few of gameplay elements toward the end of the game are somewhat opaque. To give an example, I had to consult a video playthrough (here) in order to figure out the next-to-last action necessary to finish the game. You know you have to fetch food for Daynese’s forest creature friend, but there are no clues to indicate that the game expects you to go fishing with the fishing rod in the back of the car parked outside the house. If your family just moved from the city, why would there be a fishing rod in their car? I spent a solid ten minutes searching for something to interact with in and around the house before I finally gave up and went online.
If you’ve just read the above paragraph, however, then you already know about the fishing rod, and rest of the game shouldn’t be too tricky. In fact, I’d say that An Autumn With You is a perfect game for its length, not to mention a wonderful use of the medium to tell a story. The art is lovely, and An Autumn With You is filled with small but significant grace notes that add color and depth to its world.