Virginia is a narrative adventure and the first game of developer Variable State. It is inspired by Twin Peaks, Fargo and True Detective. The game is a very surreal experience. Usually you won´t really know if what happens is real or just a vision. The visual style is very appealing. Bright colors, simple shapes and very atmospheric lighting create a very satisfying experience, although I don´t like how the characters turned out.
The core of the game is the story. There is almost no interactivity, except walking and activating objects, so you sadly can´t really contribute to solving the mystery at hand: A young boy disappeared without a trace in a small town. This setting is very familiar to Twin Peaks and Fargo.
How the story is told is what makes the game special. There is no dialog and only small amounts of text mostly found in case files. Most of the plot is told through environmental storytelling and mute interactions with the other characters. This makes the game very easy to enjoy because you don´t need to focus so much. Nevertheless: if you really want to understand what happend you need read very carefully between the lines. Nothing in the story is spelled out for you and sometimes you can´t really tell if a sequence was just metaphorical, a dream or reality.
It is clear that the game is supposed to be very cinematic. The most noticeable aspect are the prominent black cinematic bars. This effect is pretty bad. It doesn´t make the experience more cinematic instead you see less of the beautiful surroundings. There is also a 30 FPS cap (although you can disable that, the game will warn you that it is best experienced at 30 FPS).
While the experience Virginia provides is unique, it is pretty tough for me to recommend BUYING the game. Like most narrative adventures it is a very short game (around 2 hours). It has very little replay value, as there are few collectibles and you can´t change the story through your decisions. I also don´t like that the story is THAT ambiguous. You can get confused very fast because of the big amount of dream like sequences. This is also the reason why I didn´t feel any tension because I simply couldn´t really understand what was happening (because some things aren´t really happening, they are just visions).
The price tag is not anything outrageous. It will cost you around the price of a movie ticket the difference being that most people watch movies at cinemas because they are expecting blockbusters, which this game is not. It is a lot more quiet (very quiet actually) and the story is a lot more thoughtful. If you think that you can´t really spend any money on a 2 hour experience I would recommend that you watch a walkthrough of the game, as it is really not for everyone.