The Thrill Of Combat

The Thrill of Combat is a game where you fly around in a helicopter, shooting lasers at your enemies. Instead of just describing the gameplay, I'll let the excellent video below speak for itself.

Did I forget to mention the part where you jump down out of your helicopter to harvest the organs of your vanquished enemies, literally ripping the heart from their chest with a surgical laser controlled by your mouse?

The point of the game is to harvest the organs of your defeated opponents, then return them to your ship. You have a quota to fill of these various organs. When you manage to shoot an enemy, you eject from your helicopter with the laser to harvest their organs. This leaves your helicopter, which you still control with the WASD keys, defenseless from missiles and enemy gunfire while you're using your mouse to cut out the juicy marketable bits of your enemies corpses. Then you return to your helicopter by lowering a rescue rope, which is fairly short. If you can manage all this, you have to make it back to your ship to dump a load of organs onto the deck.

This game is HARD. No beating around the bush. It took me a good 15 minutes of flailing just to get the ability to fly the helicopter without plunging immediately into the ground. But once I got past the basics of helicopter flight, I found the game very engaging. The techno music, the retro graphics, the violent helicopter battles all feel very familiar. Yet you're asked to go do something that feels terribly horrific and personal as a routine part of gameplay. They do not gloss over this, you have to drag your mouse in the shape of a kidney or lung, fairly accurately, in order to harvest it. For all the abstract graphics and laser sounds, you still are very sure you're harvesting human organs. It's an uneasy feeling, made all the more prescient by the title.

The game intentionally juxtaposes the 8-bit hyper-violence with the disturbing reality of that violence in order to invoke unease at our comfort with the former but not the latter.

Why You Should Check This Out: Challenging, unique combat game that leaves me unsure whether or not I'm okay with playing it. An ugly, disturbing little snippet of all the violence that has always permeated gaming, only this game refuses to look away. It not only stares at the hyper-violence, it laughs at our unease with it.

Warning: Do not watch this video or play this game if you suffer from epilepsy. The entire background flashes like a strobe light.

[size=20]Buy Now ($4.99)[/size]

There's no demo, but the video above is pretty representative of the gameplay if you're unsure about whether or not to buy it

Comments

It's not quite a demo, but there's a free browser version. It's not the whole game, though, just the flying.

I love the term 'hyper-violence'! Also the video didn't give me a seizure, but I feel pretty nauseous due to the screen swings. Bleuagh!

Clemenstation wrote:

I love the term 'hyper-violence'! Also the video didn't give me a seizure, but I feel pretty nauseous due to the screen swings. Bleuagh!

It's not quite "a bit of the old ultra-violence." Significantly more apoplectic than that.

There was a fair amount of talk recently on other blogs about whether indie games are to the games industry as punk rock was to the music industry in the 70s. Until this game reminded me of Essen's works, I disagreed, as indie games tend to lack that "screw you!" flavor that billowed from punk's exhaust.

wordsmythe wrote:

It's not quite a demo, but there's a free browser version. It's not the whole game, though, just the flying.

Pyro mentioned to me that this really shouldn't be considered a demo, since it gets away from the newer, more exciting and probably more important bit of tracing organs to remove them. I think I saw somewhere that it was originally presented (in an art show, no less) as a two-player game, so that the Party Boat app is P1's game, while the harvesting would be done by a second player. So it really is only half of the game.

Does anyone else wonder how well this would work on a DS?

Wow. What the hell? I mean that in a good way.

Does anyone else wonder how well this would work on a DS?

I can't imagine what it would look like, sitting on a bus shooting dudes then cutting out their organs.

I'd play it, I'm just sayin

I also find the 2 player bit interesting. I'm not sure it'd have the same impact that way.

The background and music started annoying me about halfway through that video, so I don't think I will be buying this. It's a shame, harvesting organs from a helicopter has been a lifelong aspirational goal of mine.

Switchbreak wrote:

The background and music started annoying me about halfway through that video, so I don't think I will be buying this. It's a shame, harvesting organs from a helicopter has been a lifelong aspirational goal of mine.

I'm kinda suprised how well it works for me, the whole annoying background and music give off this grating vibe that kinda works with cutting kidneys out of someone.

wordsmythe wrote:

It's not quite a demo, but there's a free browser version. It's not the whole game, though, just the flying.

The browser version is unutterably lame. That's my full review. Hence the unutterably.

complexmath wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:

It's not quite a demo, but there's a free browser version. It's not the whole game, though, just the flying.

The browser version is unutterably lame. That's my full review. Hence the unutterably.

Perhaps it's more thrilling to me because I shouldn't be playing it at work.

wordsmythe wrote:
complexmath wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:

It's not quite a demo, but there's a free browser version. It's not the whole game, though, just the flying.

The browser version is unutterably lame. That's my full review. Hence the unutterably.

Perhaps it's more thrilling to me because I shouldn't be playing it at work. :)

I can say without the organ harvesting mechanic I feel this is fairly boring and doesn't have much going for it though.

What a difference a simple mechanic makes

wordsmythe wrote:
complexmath wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:

It's not quite a demo, but there's a free browser version. It's not the whole game, though, just the flying.

The browser version is unutterably lame. That's my full review. Hence the unutterably.

Perhaps it's more thrilling to me because I shouldn't be playing it at work. :)

Well, maybe my taste is simple, but I thought the browser game was pretty interesting. It certainly wouldn't hold my attention very long.

I think I'm too lazy (right now) to log out of OSX into XP to download the organ tracing version, but this could suffice to whet my appetite...