Insomnia has been an unwelcome guest in my life for as long as I can remember. It’s a bit like a nocturnal puppy, waiting until you are just easing into bed and then deciding it is time to play, springing on you like a snake in a can and refusing to let you go to sleep until it’s had some fun. Usually this amounts to lying in bed silently counting off the seconds of sleep you’ve already missed out on as you roll around only to discover your bed has been replaced with what feels like a pile of rocks. None of the magic remedies seem to work, and at some point between contemplating how hard you’d have to hit yourself in the head to pass out and whether you should just give up on the idea of sleep altogether, you took out your phone and now it is all over.
MadameBerry’s 3AM is a game about and within the pockets of restlessness that creep up on us during ungodly hours of the night. It is in many ways barely present, just a short sequence of events culminating in a soothing cup of tea brewed in the hopes it may lull you to sleep. Even as you are forced to wait for your water to boil and your tea to properly steep, 3AM is here and gone in a matter of minutes. And yet it is this hazy simplicity that makes 3AM so poignant and warm.
There is nothing fun about being unwillingly kept awake by your own body, but 3AM turns the frustration of insomnia into a peaceful respite from the complications of daytime, allowing you time to detach and meander solely for the sake of it. Perhaps you’ll page through the poetry collection that has been collection dust on your shelf, or take a moment to water your neglected plant and appreciate the odd sense of company it provides. Or maybe you will do nothing at all and merely wait for your tea to finish brewing.
None of these choices are right or wrong, they’re simply there and a way to distract yourself from your sleepiness. 3AM doesn’t attempt to stretch beyond the immediacy of itself, to be more than a simple game about making a cup of tea, and that is what I find so remarkably endearing about it. There is something so tangible and sincere about 3AM’s quiet observations and tempered aspirations, little touches here and there wrapping around the game like a warm hug. It’s a tiny game with tiny goals, but as a short experience to enjoy over a cup of tea, no less lovely a way to spend your time as you wait for sleep to set in.
"Quick Thoughts" is a place for micro criticism, abstract musings, and shameless showcasing for games which either don't fit into a full review or I am not yet ready to talk about to that extent, essentially acting as a concise running commentary on whatever I'm currently playing and my thoughts thereof.