🎮 Five Years Old Memories

2024年 6月 16日
Indie Tsushin 2024 May-June issueThis article was featured in our 2024 May-June issue. Check out more articles and interviews in the full issue.
Title screen of Five Years Old Memories by Komitsu

It's pretty much impossible to talk about the demo of Five Years Old Memories by Komitsu without immediately getting the itch to ask everyone you know what their own memories were like from when they were five years old. It is a digital picture book combining audio interviews of people reminiscing about their short-pants days, accompanied by simple yet striking animations. Playing the game feels like flipping through your friend's childhood drawings and photos as they explain to you what was going on in that little snapshot of their personal history.

Right from the menu, everything looks so warm and inviting. The artwork in Five Years Old Memories has a crinkly, textured look to it, as if it were all done in watercolors and lovingly scanned in page by page. Lots of bold primaries, simple geometric shapes, and open negative space combine to evoke memories of being a little kid with a fresh box of markers and a huge sheet of paper.

Red circular blob in the center of a vast empty screen

"Maybe a bit smaller than an average pumpkin."

When you start the chapter, you see a message that the game is based on interviews with Komitsu's friends, followed by a red blobby circle. As the circle wobbles, someone starts talking; or rather, continues talking as if you are listening in on a private conversation. "Red, and about this size maybe?" The circle morphs and shifts as the speaker continues. "Maybe a bit smaller than an average pumpkin." You can imagine the speaker gesturing with their hands to show how large the object is, while on screen, you see the blob morph into a green pumpkin and back to a red blob. The animation throughout looks charmingly low-tech and abstract, as if you are looking over Komitsu's shoulder as she tries to draw whatever it is her friend is describing.

The red blob turning into a water pot with a long spout and curved handle

"And where the water comes out, it was long and skinny."

As the interviewee keeps talking, the red blob grows a curved handle and a long spout. It is only now that you can finally see that they had been talking about a watering pot. During the explanation, the red blob morphs and bulges into shape. It was genuinely delightful to watch. Once the watering pot has finally been given form, the player is finally allowed to pick it up and wave it around.

Player with a red watering pot in a Japanese home's entrance standing over their father's leather shoes

You're a five-year-old with a water pot and your father's expensive leather shoes, what else are you supposed to do?

And, just like a real five-year-old, the first thing you do is create a huge mess. You can swing around your pot and pour water in all sorts of places, leaving big messy puddles wherever you let go of the cursor. It's tactile and fun, and also a bit horrifying to think about if you were to do this in real life! While you are wreaking havoc (or not, if that's not the kind of five-year-old you are) the narrator continues the story. I love this little bit of interaction that puts you directly in the storyteller's shoes, so to speak. Not only are you the one in control, but you're also learning in real-time the ramifications of what happened to the narrator when they were in your position.

I don't want to spoil what happens in the demo, but suffice to say that the ensuing story is as charming to listen to as it is to watch unfold. By waving the watering pot around and leaving puddles everywhere, the player gets to participate in a very funny and quite heartwarming story. The episode is not a vague, nostalgic sense of what it was like to be five years old, but a specific and memorable incident from the narrator's life. This, combined with the earnest back-and-forth with Komitsu, gives the player an intimate dive into another person's childhood memories.

Many puddles of water scattered around the entrance way. The leather shoes are now completely filled with water


Perhaps most surprisingly, the story in this episode was not a particularly dramatic one; from an adult's perspective, it seems downright ordinary. But it is that ordinariness, those little slices of life that shape our character and make us who we are. This game smartly hones in on the quiet charm of these moments. It's fascinating to hear what stories people have carried with them through the years.

Once I finished the game, I immediately pestered my partner to tell me his own stories from when he was five years old. I was hooked and hungry for more.

Luckily, Komitsu's library has a few other games in the same style that help tide me over until the full release. There's walk with me, a simple but evocative flatgame that is also the spiritual prequel to Five Years Old Memories. It goes into Komitsu's own memories while being five years old and living in Germany, and gives us a walking tour of her life without using any words. There's also SUN SHOWER, a game about saying hello to the many cute snails living on Komitsu's balcony. These games are small yet intimate, little peeks into a real person's life.

Credits screen for Five Years Old Memories, including the people Komitsu interviewed for the game: Yoko, Natsumi, Masaki, Shinya, Toma, Shiori, and Takuto

I can't wait to play the full version and hear all the other interviewees and play around with their episodes.

I enjoy games that feel like they connect me with other people and experiences. Not only did playing the game let me live the memories of Komitsu's friend, but it also inspired me to seek out these kinds of tiny episodes from my friends and family, and to share with them the little stories that also make up who I am. The game is currently in development, but the demo is available now on itch and Steam. I highly recommend playing it, and once you have finished, please tell me your memories from when you were five years old!

The full version of Five Years Old Memories is slated to release later this year on iOS, Steam, and itch, with the demo available to download from the latter two. Visit Komitsu's Tumblr for more information and updates on the game. And you can watch us play Five Years Old Memories on stream!