Connor Sherlock & Cameron Kunzelman, 2017
Set deep in the woods of the US state of New England, Marginalia is an elegant walking simulator that really does make you feel like you're lost in a forest.
At first, red lampposts mark out a forest trail, each conjuring a new, fully voiced, narrative snippet. As you start piecing together the nature of the forest and memories that you're exploring, both the glowing markers that guide you through the dark and the story of the narrator's missing boyfriend begin to take on a stranger, more otherworldly tenor with shades of cosmic horror.
There are no jump scares, and the mood is one of ominous mystery, rather than full-on terror as you explore the vast forest. The ambient soundtrack is excellent and, for me, brought to mind Cult of Luna's more synth-driven moments.
Marginalia takes just over half an hour to complete, and there are no alternate endings (unless, like me, you fall off a big cliff and end up accidentally exploring a ravine instead of the mountain peak that everything's leading to).
Either way, the story is the same. The narrative is static. Interaction and emergent gameplay elements here are all about how you explore the deep woods. I managed to get myself turned around in the darkness, a familiar experience to anyone who's taken a half-familiar road too late in the day.
Marginalia a one-shot with no saves and no restarts, bar Steam Deck's suspend. However, you'll probably want to play this one straight through without too many distractions.
I had a fun time with it on the Steam Deck while keeping someone else company, but it's much more absorbing on a big ultrawide display, or at least in a dimly lit room, all alone.
Buy it on itchio for $6: https://connor-sherlock.itch.io/marginalia (includes the fantastic OST and a Steam key, get this one!) If you bought the Bundle For Ukraine in March 2022, you already have a copy (sans Steam key).
Alternatively, buy it on Steam for 4.99€: https://store.steampowered.com/app/889280/Marginalia/