The Sky Is Gray And You Are Distressed is a very simple game for two people focusing on the characters’ relationship and internal lives. I see it as straddling the divide between RPGs and LARPs. It reads like a quiet, independent movie, which is quite alien for someone who writes and plays stuff in which characters generally punch or shoot others in the face.
The mechanics are quite simple and elegant in their design, and the catalyst for play – one character’s secrets – is accessible and thought-provoking. I really like how the game flows and the expectations that are implied. The characters are very simple in their overt attributes but the lines which are used to motivate action hint at much more.
For me, this would need to be a very intimate game with someone with whom I have a very strong relationship. This is a game of dramatic conflict rather than physical action and I am not too ashamed to admit I am cool with the latter but intimidated by the former. I think this might be adapted to work as a great tool for actors whose characters have an implied backstory. This would allow working through that story away from the camera or audience to give added depth to performances.
I’m very impressed with how much drama is contained within a very simple package. Josh T. Jordan has always been a designer who continually surprises me with simple, thoughtful games, and The Sky Is Gray And You Are Distressed is another of his successes.
I give The Sky Is Gray And You Are Distressed 4.75 dreary days full of fears and hope out of 5. This is a very simple system that can draw out lots of depth from an RP session, but is very specific about what it does.