Tall Grass, Big Stakes
For a game that is relentlessly cheery most of the time, in palette and texture, there’s a lot of weird implications about its world. There are some problems friendship may not be sufficient to solve. There are the monsters you breed, of course, but there are also the monsters who do the breeding.
Would you be surprised to learn that I am still unpacking memories from PAX, the PAX that is called PAX Prime? It would absolutely not surprise you to learn that I experience the show in a different way from other people. The exhibition floor isn’t really a place I can go, except to go through it; I have a route I’m driven or intructed to execute, like a bee. One advantage I have is that there is a period of time after the hall closes but before starving, stricken developers have left for the day and are occasionally down for one final harangue. This happened on more than one occasion, but something I remember in a crisp, high resolution manner is The Stanley Parable.
I’d played the mod, of course - the ancient mod that might be a template for this newly released full thing, or might not be. It applied some kind of choke to my brainstem which slowly decreased in circumference. I’d heard that there was going to be an HD Club Banger REMIXX, and was intrigued because the proof of concept had so clearly earned it.
It’s a game that knows its a game for players who know they are playing one. It can be hard, at times, to know precisely at what angle or level or dimension the meta-analysis is situated. They’re clever people being clever, and they grin at you while you play.
There’s a demo for the new one, and you should get it. It is not drawn from the game proper, which is the best kind of demo. The version of it these ingenious mutants brought to PAX was even PAX specific in some ways, directly referencing the show and being at the show and other games also at the show. The act of playing the game was established early on as a form of performance art, complete with a discrete apology phase for having wasted the onlookers’ time.
There is a way of being ostentatiously, imperiously smart which makes other people feel dumb, wants to, even, and that’s not what is happening here. It’s not simple iconoclasm, either. It just wants to talk. And you should let it.