Although we’re still fairly early in the year, the perceived “slow winter season” has been anything but; the constant stream of promising titles to pick up and play have been almost relentless in their consistency. That means we all have to make very careful choices with our time and money even now, when there should be a drought.
A couple weeks ago, we got a blockbuster of massive scale with Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning; our own Chad spoke extremely highly of the title, and a lot of my co-workers have been pulling all-nighters with the game. This past week, an updated version of the much-talked-about Source mod Dear Esther was released on Steam, and many are enthusiastically heralding it as a prime example of a gorgeous, emotionally resonant non-game.
Unfortunately, while epic worlds and engaging narratives are the cornerstones of a fantastic gaming experience, I’m not feeling the whole “serious games” thing currently. In fact, I feel like immersing myself in the utterly bizarre and batcrap crazy.
Sure, Dear Esther’s great and all, but how is everyone failing to recognize that just a day later, a proper full version of the pigeon dating sim Hatoful Boyfriend was released in English? Yeah, you heard that right: Pigeon. Dating. Sim.
And I know what you guys are thinking: “Oh, so there’s a game out there about trying to get pigeons to date each other; that’s pretty messed up, but what’s so crazy about that?” Boy oh boy, you’re going to wish you didn’t ask that question. See, Hatoful Boyfriend is a game where you’re the only human to be enrolled in an all-pigeon high school. The goal of the game is just like that of any other dating sim: win the affections of a counterpart by game’s end, thereby giving you a brief glimpse of e-happiness and e-companionship before going back to your crappy real life.
“But wait dude, you’re a human, in a school of pigeons; where the hell are you going to find a beautiful person to woo? …wait. No, don’t tell me…” Yep, you’re right; there aren’t any other humans, which means you’re tasked with hitting on (and eventually getting all up in) some choice avian ass.
I’ve spent the past twenty minutes or so messing around with the trial version plus English patch (available here), and I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m having a ton of fun trying to win over the hearts of plague-ridden birds. The dialogue can be straight up hilarious, and the inclusion of anime archetypes somehow actually makes Hatoful Boyfriend even more enjoyable. Now that I’ve witnessed a tsundere pigeon firsthand, I can say my life is probably complete.
If I get sick of trying to get some freaknasty man-bird love, however, I have another crazy trick up my sleeve: Deepak Fights Robots, Tom Sennett’s wacky, seizure-inducing action platformer. The title of the game is quite self-explanatory: you’re a middle-class Indian working man that gets abducted by a robot pimp of sorts to fight other robots level to level.
The structure is a bit similar to the old Bubble Bobble games, wherein you destroy all enemies in a level, and then get whisked away to another section. The execution, however, is pure insanity, and is a testament to Sennett’s amazing penchant to make his games into sensory overload personified. Bright colors abound, and everything’s in a rough, sketched out aesthetic that looks as if you’re playing a poorly drawn MS Paint creation come to life. The ridiculously awesome sitar band that provides the soundtrack for the game is just the crazy icing on the absurdity cake.
I’ve been playing Deepak Fights Robots on and off for the past few days, and even though the gameplay is repetitive, I find myself hopelessly engrossed in the sheer bliss of character and personality brimming from every facet of the game. There’s an indescribable, distinct joy in seeing an enemy utter something similar to “tough luck, bro” after dying that’s completely addicting. Sennett’s games have a tendency to endear themselves to me in no time, and Deepak Fights Robots is no exception.
Hopefully, these will keep me entertained until I have the desire to move onto more serious, time-investing productions, but for now, I’m perfectly fine with choosing single pigeons with ‘tude and Indian robot slayers over anything that actually takes some kind of commitment.
…I do, however, hope that is the last time I will ever write a sentence like that and mean it.