Welcome back to Fringe Busters! First a bit of housekeeping: For 2011 we’re going to do a few format changes. I’m refocusing the articles to be about discussion instead of review. The point of FB has always been to get people to not only play a game, but think about it as well. So instead of merely evangelizing about the game, I’m going to try and provoke some discussion about it instead.
Which brings our first game for the year into focus: Kettle. Kettle is a puzzle game where you move police officers around the outside of a group of protesters in order to fit them inside a “secure zone.” In addition to some fun puzzling based around the premise, a crudely drawn policeman shows up in between puzzles to berate you while a banal 8-bit loop of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” plays in the background.
Which is what really strikes me about this entire exercise, the banality of it all. The subject matter is a highly charged group of protesters conflicting with police, but the game depicts everyone as crudely drawn sprites doing exactly as they’re told, with no unpredictable movements. Even the policeman berating you in the cutscenes delivers threatening lines such as “Gonna lock you up sonny!” with the energy and speed of a NyQuil-dosed sloth.
Talking Points: What is the sloth-like pace of the gameplay trying to say? If it’s boring, what does it mean that this game is a model of a boring protest? Does the slower pace make the game more contemplative? Do the crude graphics help, or are they just convenient?