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The Sweet Escape Of ‘Sayonara Wild Hearts,’ Where Pop Music Is Recovery

If past generations saw their wanderlust reflected in Alice peering down a rabbit hole or Luke Skywalker staring down a sunset, the COVID-era equivalent will almost certainly involve a hero gazing into a screen: With most of the U.S. still advised to stay home as much as possible, televisions and smart devices feel more than ever like flickering portals, promising the addled mind passage to anywhere but our own four walls. Since I don’t know when I’ll get to see it again safely, I spent my early mental excursions visiting my hometown of New York City, using old seasons of The Real Housewives and Flight of the Conchords to travel down familiar streets frozen in time, years away from the pandemic’s stateside arrival. From there I moved to Desus Mero‘s back catalog, gleefully profane dispatches from a world where bad news felt a little easier to laugh at. Lately, though, after I’ve texted my mom, hugged my partner and given our elderly cat a scratch behind the ears, I’ve found my evening’s respite venturing out into a city left untouched by the moment’s menace.

Not Washington, D.C., where I’ve lived for the past decade; our infection curve is still the wrong shape. But a neon-hued city where it’s always twilight hour, where the gravest danger is failing to trust your heart, where the streetlamps all pulse to the same rhythm and staying safe is a mere matter of keeping up with the beat.

Even with such glittering charms to recommend it, Sayonara Wild Hearts eludes easy description. The small Swedish game studio Simogo, whose past hits Device 6 and Year Walk feathered the borders between puzzle games and adventure novels, dubbed the project an “interactive music video” when it began development five years ago. The resulting work is

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