From Head to Toe is less than a game than it is an experience. As someone who has been accused on more than one occasion of being “too nostalgic,” it was right up my alley. I’ve always enjoyed looking backward and trying to learn from my past so as to make better decisions in my present and future. This game was all about immersing yourself in the feelings of adolescence - a time of such intense and big emotions.
From Head to Toe was released last week, on Saturday July 20th by a developer with the best name and logo ever, Party for Introverts.
The game is free on Steam, and takes 15-30 minutes to play. The mechanics are very simple. You use the mouse for everything - you go back and forth between the right and left to walk, move it back and forth to do certain things, and hold down to do others. It’s extremely basic, so even if your laptop is not the best (like mine!), you’ll still be able to manage.
The story is straightforward. You play Betty, a young woman who is returning to her hometown in the winter and take a walk around her old home with her childhood friend, Quentin. They walk, they swing on an old swing set, chat about their old classmates, and reminisce about their first kiss.
While swinging, they discuss the feeling of nostalgia; how a moment can immediately transport you to another point in your past, the feelings and memory so strong that it takes you over “from head to toe.” Because this feeling is so universal, the moment packs a punch and makes you as the player go back in your life to all the moments that gave you that feeling (or maybe that’s just the whimsy in me).
I must admit, at the start I was a bit annoyed with the walking mechanic - it seemed clunky and slow, but as I kept playing, I told myself to take the time to walk slowly as it’s an experience that is supposed to be reflective and not rushed. Once I gave into the idea of moving slowly, I started to enjoy the pace of the steps Betty and Quentin took. It became kind of a meditative experience for me and gave me the time to immerse myself in the world that the developers created.
The graphics complimented the storyline in their simplicity, as did the music. It is 2D and because all of the movements are so slight, the 2D is the perfect style. Anything more flashy would detract from the overall experience. The music is an original score by Alex Franscois, and reminded me of the fall of a light snow, which is a constant feature of this game that takes place in the winter.
The creators, Arseniy Klishin and Laura Gray, describe the game as “a short interactive story about winter, existential guilt and your ex-classmates,” with overall themes of longing and nostalgia. This holds up to be true, and I would be fascinated to read more about why the developers decided that winter should play such a large part of this story.
From Head to Toe is a simple, yet impactive journey. Set aside 30 minutes when you’re not in a rush and ready to go on a bit of a retrospective and nostalgic journey. I won’t say much about how it ends, but I will say that you should be prepared to feel some sorta way.