Saturday, 13 September 2014
Indie gaming has a reputation of being deliberately opposing the the ideals of current mainstream gaming, and to some measure this is true. Some choose to subvert the 'norm' deliberately, choosing to single themselves out believing it to increase their weight in their own shallow end of the fish bowl. However, some have no agenda other than the simple need to express themselves in what amounts to a fleeting burst of human experience that we all share, perhaps an attempt to truly connect - if even just for a second - with another soul.
I postulated on how to tackle this game review, as the sole reason you'll be reading it is most likely to figure out whether or not to purchase it. After all, it is a product and we read reviews to gauge our interest whilst being entertained. This site deals with reviews in part but it also represents a voice within the independent gaming scene, and sometimes voices are just there to be heard - even if you disagree with them.
Continue?9876543210 is a game that starts at the beginning of a characters death. It's a strange concept to get your head around at first but as time passes it makes sense. In a digital sense nothing dies, it is simply moved to a recycle bin, then deleted and in this game you follow your sprite on its journey to permanent deletion. As the player you are faced with the finality of oblivion, but you are given the opportunity to fight on in order to delay the inevitable. The world you find yourself in is made of junk and fragments of deleted files. The townsfolk are abstract in their communication with you, not because they choose to be but because they too are broken and destined for obsolescence.
This is where the game first struck a chord with me. I too have been bested in life, I have had to peel myself off the floor and fight on for no other reason than because I simply was not ready for death. As someone currently fighting clinical suicidal depression there have been times where simply letting go would have 'solved' my problems... but it's the fear of the unknown and the blackness of oblivion that lets me know I am simply not ready. I fight on, knowing one day death will find me. But why fight on? You fight, possibly, just for the experience connecting with other individuals or loved ones sharing in their experiences and journey.
In the game you journey between fragmenting worlds whilst talking to damaged characters. The things they say sometimes don't make any sense but eventually you'll piece together the message that they (collectively) are sending. Like the human experience it's not always clear what you're doing or why you're doing it but somehow you muddle through. The game, like life isn't always plain sailing. You will encounter enemies and they will try to delete you.
With its unique blend of future-retro visuals and haunting soundtrack, Continue?9876543210 looks like an Atari 2600 game that broke through to the 3rd dimension. The style is blocky and at times difficult to look at - and yet it suits the experience perfectly. Jason has depicted the digital wasteland with such grit and beauty that it is a wonderful mirror to our own horrific yet beautiful world. At times the game genuinely looks broken, and I can safely say at times I thought it had killed my netbook. Somewhat appropriately, my first play through was on my MSI Wind U130 netbook using Mint Linux - another obsolete inching ever closer to recycle bin. It played perfectly and I cant wait to unleash my main gaming rig on it, because if it looks beautiful on this clunker, it's going to be stunning on modern hardware!
So what's the verdict? If your looking for a bona fide, balls to the walls, hardcore indie game that challenges your reflexes and elite skills - avoid. I honestly can't stress that enough. The game is a deliberate mess and has to be experienced in a manner that doesn't normally apply to games in general. Instead think of this as a poem, you may never truly comprehend the writers true meaning, but really it's more about the experience you gain from it and the reflections of self it makes you face.
Buy the game here (from the Steam page).