Fiction · Life, A Review

Life, A Review. Part 6. Routine.

When my character, Ass Boy, graduated from high school and went to college, the open world became more hostile and difficult. It was higher leveled enemies attacking my avatar who needed to find a decent part time job so he could eat, balance everything with studying, and wake up in time for class. It wasn’t exactly different from the high school portion of Life: just more developed and difficult.

The cool thing was the mechanics kept evolving. Most games would be contempt with teaching the player all the mechanics and then leave the rest of the game to challenging the player’s ability to employ those mechanics. In Life, at least in this open world segment, I was learning new abilities that changed how I played consistently throughout the entire experience (up to that point).

For example, when my character got to college he started going to parties. These would rapidly change to horde mode styled wave defence, and my character had to learn to put up certain barriers, and defend the room from the bad guys swarming in. They looked like demons wearing frat clothes and throwing inflamed solo cups. It was odd but kinda humorous. The world often turned allowing my character to walk on walls and deal with the baddies from the ceiling. I’d install these turrets that shot poisonous letters (philosophy, maybe?) and the demons would halt their progress to get sick all over the place, which let me shoot them easily with my arm cannon. None of these abilities were present during the previous portion of the game, and in spots on the overworld map I could employ them in some very fun ways. Like walking up buildings to find secret collectables, or installing turrets to fight some higher leveled enemies on the map.

Still, Assboy spent a lot of free social time with Richard, who was his roommate in dorm. They’d fight sometimes, but they’d prove to be rather good dorm partners which surprised me, knowing that most of the time living with your friends can lead to disaster. I think part of that comes to Richard’s ability to understand what Assboy is going through, and vice versa, so they get to relate to each other more, and let things slide. Again I was struck with this idea that the game’s narritive around social interaction held much more compelling nuance than that of which I’ve seen in other games.

Assboy graduate with a liberal arts degree. The game didn’t tell me what kind of specific liberal arts he studied. I thought that was a bit lazy…or maybe the game was trying to say something using the generic term “liberal arts.” Whatever. What was important was the game didn’t crash to desktop and download the next sequence this time. It actually kept going, filling out parts of the open world map that I didn’t know existed. That was where my after college job was, and when I got there for the first time I realized I was working in the same office as Richard.

This time work was handled by showing a screen of pipe dream. Kind of like the hacking mini-game in Bioshock, except the colors would change depending on the day. Every now and then Richard and Assboy would get up to some hijinks that proved to be rather entertaining. Like this one time the duo had to run to the local supply store (Staples?) and grab pens. They made a movie about their trip where the two had to play the penis game as they moved, ending with the couple screaming about male genitalia as they moved through the store. It was a kind of funny stealth sequence where you had a certain amount of time to scream penis and pushing the space bar harder produced a louder radius on your mini map. Eventually I figured out that allowing other people to hear you didn’t produce any kind of fail state…you just got a really detailed portrait of a person’s reaction.

Surprisingly, no one thought it was funny.

These mini games represented the highlight of Assboy’s workday, itself rather dull and monotonous. I get the game wants to paint the work day as being boring, but isn’t this a video game? I mean shouldn’t I be having fun playing the video game? I ended up repeating several, and I mean several, work days until I got to the next segment. Which was pretty sad. Richard got another job, leaving Assboy behind to keep working at this job. For some reason, Assboy couldn’t get another job. Either he didn’t have enough time to find another job, or there just wasn’t a better one available. Richard had earned himself a specific degree–an engineering one–and he was looking forward to a much more wealthy life than Assboy. He was also planning to get married. Assboy’s life was in a form of stasis. He felt frozen. He felt stuck.

No he didn’t. The game didn’t tell me that at all.

I felt that way. I felt that way through this character I was playing in a video game.

This was the event where the game did the thing. It crashed to desktop and began another download to replace the old game. This download wasn’t that large, but I wanted to head to bed for the night and give this thing a rest. It was getting a little frustrating, and depressing. So I let the file downloaded and I laid down.

And I couldn’t sleep.

I wanted to get back to the game…I could only think about work, and how I had to play that game of pipe dream more efficiently.

I found myself in front of the computer again…and I opened the file.

It was a stripped down version. I was now looking at a similar indie style to games like RimWorld: isometric, cartoonish humans rendered in a specific style that purposely stripped out detail in favor of a more consistent art style. I controlled my character through a more boring looking world until I got to work. I sat down, and I played pipe dream.

I’ve never liked pipe dream less. People hated this mini game in Bioshock but I actually didn’t mind playing it. It’s fun to challenge yourself in doing the game fast, and I got pretty good at it. But here there was no challenge. It was the same set of puzzles every single day, and I couldn’t do them too fast or my character would just sit there anxiously hoping not be found wasting time on the clock. So I had to methodically place tiles in order for the liquid to traverse through the pipes in such a way that I could clock out with a guilt-free conscious.

It drained my character’s psyche. If he wasn’t working, he was sitting in front of a tv. When he got home from work he sat in front of the tv. His physicality and mental state depleted until he seemed like a blank zombie.

I felt similar.

I find that I can’t feel good with myself, however, if I don’t at leats play four hours of this a day.

And it’s gone on for days. With no sign of stopping.

I’m getting to the point in the review where I’m probably gonna have to play a huge chunk of this until I have anything more interesting to say. So I may not write anything for a week or two. Just to try and burn through this segment in the game.

I also gotta stop writing so I can spend more time playing. I haven’t got my four hours in yet today, and I feel like my brain is on fire. It’s a struggle to focus long enough to get these words out.




time to dine



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