SIX ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ STAR GAME
wasn’t expecting this at all.
I use game controllers like I use paintbrushes: loose and vibey. Precision platforming has never been my thing. But this bish rite here??!?!
going into this, I knew EVEN THE OCEAN had been criticized as being “preachy,” but not much else. I didn’t know it was going to make me “feel” like I’m capable of clearing megaman levels.
The art: the sidescrolling background illustrations, the platforming level design. Larry David voice Pretttty good. The visuals have an autumnal, unfussy cuteness. However, the people in the game don’t look cute—they look real.
The depictions of our natural world are the most adorable looking parts of this game. The world is magical place, and the depictions of how we treat our world, and each other, are the ugliest parts of this game.
Our protagonist is a technician starting her first day working for the city’s power plants. The 2D platforming occurs while she is on the job. Our hero is a young woman of color risking her life to save her hometown, Whiteforge, from odd occurrences that seem related to the energy these power plants are generating.
And that is why this game is not very popular. It seems that much of the same Games Media that praised Anodyne 1, was not tryna fuck with a real game talking bout real shit. This is the reason why, for years, Capcom was not tryna release those Ace Attorney games, here in the west, that depicted the normalized racism of British people in the 1900s—it’s not prudent to impugn the status quo. “Go woke go broke” they say.
If I recall correctly, in this game, all the main characters (antagonists notwithstanding) are brown, and both relationships given screen time are homo. That resembles my daily life, and perhaps that’s why this game is literally $3 on steam at the time of this writing (i paid the $20 for it on switch, and was a lil saddened that my new favorite game is available at 80% off, and may be relegated to ‘hidden gem’ status, like so many works of art I adore).
Another reason this game will make you uncomfortable is its spirituality. Instead of enemies to kill, your health bar is your ongoing challenge, which begins half light/half dark. Bulbs of light or dark energy shift the balance and you die when you are 100% light or dark. People hate games symbolically about aspiring to find balance within self & within community. Maybe a game about the next mass shooting is more to their liking?
Yeah. So this is New Age Megaman Ferngully, featuring a heavily lgbt cast. 🤯 To make a game with all these ideas figuring prominently sounds unwieldy. That’s why it such a triumph. Analgesic Productions got their chakras aligned all the fucking way down and pulled it off.
I want more bravery from my games, in a world where every big game studio’s toxic culture is being brought to light, I commend those who not only aren’t on that fuck shit, but are making art to inspire kids (FYI this game is still a PG-rated experience) to do better than we have done. That’s love!
P.S. the gameplay is fun af! Figuring out how to navigate certain parts didn’t take more than 3 or 4 attempts. Now I’m over here wondering what other puzzle platformers I might vibe with. But I ain’t gon lie, by the last fourth of the game I did adjust the settings to make it less impenetrable for me. The accessibility options in this game are brazy: if you don’t have time for platform hopping, you can make our hero float through the platforming…or choose story mode and skip them all together. The devs already knew that this was a story worth telling, with or without the gameplay. 🕊
Portraying the complexity of the human condition through a most inclusive lens: 5/5
Speaking truth to power: 5/5
Being written more like a good book/play/film, rather than a video game: 4.5/5
Menu design sometimes being lowkey frustrating: yes
Nuanced sense of humor: very yes
Reviewed on Jul 13, 2022