I suppose as "comic book people" we're fairly familiar with the transfer of ideas between media. What was once "geek culture" has now become mainstream culture,with comic books regularly becoming movies, tv series and (heavens forfend) video games. It works the other way too, with frequent comic adaptations of movies with varying degrees of success.
The relationship between video games and movies is a bit more fractious. Characters have regularly jumped to the big screen, then generally into a big pit of awfullness and money. The stylistic nature of videogames, meanwhile, has been a bit more successful in its transition. It's not unusual for films to include first person sections, with the rise of the cheap to produce "found footage" film. Films like Hardcore Henry or Crank have taken it to a whole new level and essentially been live action games.
But the transit of ideas the other way has maybe been a bit limited. When video games become "more cinematic" it generally means that they get more cut scenes, or the gaming element stops so you can revel in the voice acting.
Virginia isn't a game. You can't win or lose, you wont have your problem solving skills or reactions challenged. It's an interactive story, told through the medium of video games. It's essentially a first person point and click adventure, with a linear storyline.
Virginia isn't a movie. It requires your interaction and attention. There are no cut scenes, there's no dialogue at all. But it uses editing techniques I've only ever seen in tv and movies.
The plot follows two FBI agents investigating a missing person in a small town, which quickly involves hallucinatory adventures and vivid fever dreams. It's clearly draws on Twin Peaks as an inspiration. In fact, one scene features a musical number which is very reminiscent of the dreamy, out of place Twin Peaks theme.
Playing the role of recently inducted Agent Anne Tarver, the player travels through this bizarre dreamscape, never sure what is real or imagined, never sure if these scenes are in the correct order. The movie-like editing jumps between time and places. One minute I'm walking through an apartment building, the next I'm in a corridor in an FBI basement, looking for the broomcupboard office of my taciturn partner. I might be examining a confidential file for clues, when suddenly find myself in a diner, waiting for the waitress to bring me another cup of that damn fine coffee. It's jarring at first, but soon your swept away, safe in the knowledge that none of this is within your control.
Scenes (and they're scenes rather than levels or chapters) are beautifully framed, the first person viewpoint taking the place of a steadycam tracking past the anonymous desks of the FBI offices. The player is guided with adroit clues in lighting and prop placement, so even when faced with a choice between turning left or right, I instinctively knew which way to go.
The complete lack of dialogue doesn't detract from the ability to draw you in to an intriguing, if almost incomprehensible, story. Instead, I'm required to look for the subtle moments which move the story forward.
Virginia isn't for everyone, but if your interested in being swept away into a twisted Lynchian world for a couple of hours, and are happy to leave without having a clue what just happened, I'd recommend it.