Few things thrust me into nostalgia for the early 2000s. Y2K aesthetic dominates the Internet, shows from my childhood are getting constantly rebooted with a modern flavor, but Merideth Gran’s Perfect Tides is truly a time capsule of the year 2000’s culture.
Long-time Internet alumnus, Gran is best known for her webcomic Octopus Pie about people living and working in Brooklyn. It’s beloved, a hallmark of early 2010s Tumblr webcomic culture, and a treasure. Her newest project, Perfect Tides should usher in a new era of fans.
You play as Mara Whitefish, a high school sophomore living on the gay vacation mecca island Perfect Tides: a place only busy one season of the year. Mara, like any teen, wishes she was anybody but herself. She spends most of her time chatting on a forum with Internet friends, writing fiction, and attempting to blend into her surroundings at school.
As the game progresses, you develop romances, make new friends, get into fights, try drugs, and experience everyday life. It’s mundane but in the best way. There’s only one mandatory puzzle you need to figure out, only a handful of places you can go, and the mechanics are easy to master, but the marvel of this game is Mara herself. I see everybody in Mara, myself, my friends, my family.
Because the game is about a fifteen-year-old, Mara can seem preachy at times, dying on hills only a passionate teen would. Her anger is aimed at everybody in sight, and there’s not much you can do except keep playing. The scary thing is, I still relate to Mara on a personal level despite being in my late twenties. I see myself in those feelings; I get wrapped up in my past. The distinct feeling of coming of age in the early aughts is great, but the desperation that you want somebody to take care of you but you feel like somehow you’re too old is a universal experience, no matter how old you are.
If you’re looking for a break from the high stakes of Elden Ring, Perfect Tides is a love letter to your teen self, the Wild West era of the Internet, and the year 2000. It is available on Itch.io and Steam.