The Oakland Athletics baseball team were founded in 1901 in Philadelphia, with a twelve-year stint from 1955 in Kansas City, moving to their current home at the Oakland Coliseum in 1968. Their current owner is a guy called John Fisher who has been running the team on a shoestring for several years, garnering an MLB worst 50-112 record in 2023. He’s been the rightful subject of scorn from many in the A’s fanbase as well as baseball generally. The highlight of the season was the fact that an opossum had taken up residence in the visiting commentary booth stinking the place up as bad as the on-field action did.
The consensus is that he should sell the team and not leave Oakland for Las Vegas as the Raiders NFL team did recently, but he’s cravenly eschewed any public visibility of late. He’s rich by virtue of his mum and dad having founded Gap Inc, otherwise known as The Gap in popular parlance. Sell the team already, man.
This game, The Gap has nothing to do with the Oakland A’s nor the namesake clothing brand, being instead a time travelling adventure from Slovenian developers Jan Gortnar and Sara Lukanc aka Label This and Polish publisher Crunching Koalas.
You join the narrative as the protagonist Josh in the present day, that being April 2045. His wife has just left with their daughter for reasons not entirely clear at the outset. The Gap doesn’t hold back in getting down to brass tacks. It turns out that Josh is quite the scientist with a background in neuroscience. It’s about this point that you’re introduced to the time jumping mechanic. Find two items related to the same memory and you have a deja-vu moment where you can retread the memory in question.
This mechanic is a constant throughout the five distinct time periods you leap between, though some memories are triggered by single artifacts too. There’s a bit of quantum theory thrown into the mix here, though you’ll only be deemed to have completed a memory successfully if you make the correct choices. This is especially critical when it comes to the ‘all memories without error’ trophy unlocked anyway.
The memories go from before Josh meets his wife until the present day and do a good job in piecing together the story. It’s only by reconstructing all of your memories that you’ll be able to reach the end of the story.
Being a strictly linear affair, you’ll likely play this once to finish the story and again to mop up the remaining trophies you missed. It’s a shame that this is so as the voice work from the main players is well done, though by the third playthrough if you messed up like we did, you’ll be wishing for a skip dialogue function to move things along.
We get that the fact that this is so plot driven makes it hard to garner much in the way of replay value. We’d like to have seen a more text based new game plus sorta thing where variables are shuffled around a bit, but we realise that this would be quite hard to implement technically. We found it a little bewildering when the likes of Murderous Muses tried to do similar with FMV as the disconnect from the video and the randomised killer was a complication.
As we mentioned, the voice acting is well done with the main parts delivered with aplomb. The interaction between Josh, his wife Amber, her sister and his friend Chris in particular is done convincingly. As the story unfolds you’ll genuinely feel for the characters as you unravel the solution.
Sometimes though, you’ll be given hints in-game that are intended to help you, but they end up being a hindrance to progress, with no clear solution. One of our pals doesn’t have English as a first language and really struggled with one particular section as a result.
Despite these roadblocks, we had a fair bit of fun with The Gap. It’s well written and the deductive parts are well thought out. We might’ve got bogged down in a couple of sections a little too readily, but we suspect many others will too.
In conclusion, The Gap is a good example of what some might call a walking simulator. Yes, it’s effectively a one and done but it’s still pretty good.
+ Time jumping mechanic is interesting
+ Fun while it lasts
- Effectively a one and done effort
- Sell the team already, man