Every week, Gamestitch is bringing to you some of the latest, and some of the greatest from the independent video game scene. If smaller budgets and intimate game play is your thing, join me every Thursday as I spotlight what I’m playing from the underground.
People born between 1965 and 1977, such as myself, are generally referred to as “Generation X.” This was a moniker passed to us from older generations, and it typically is meant to mean we are individualistic, in touch with our emotions, creative as opposed to logical, and slackers in life. I wholeheartedly agree with this. It’s important to note, however, that due to these traits, we tended to go out and find the media, such as music and movies, that inspired us, rather than just making do with whatever played on the radio. One of the things we “found” was the Gothic-Punk music movement of the late 70′s, and one of the most important bands to come out of that movement was, arguably, Joy Division.
Now, I’m not going to go into a full scale assault about Joy Division and how they were emotional pioneers. I will tell you to find Unknown Pleasures and Closer on vinyl, listen to them in the dark while thinking of breaking up with your first love, cry, cry some more, and then play Will Love Tear Us Apart?
WLTUA? is a video game based on what is considered to be Joy Division’s most iconic song, Love Will Tear Us Apart. What Mighty Box has done is concoct a grand experiment in adapting a song into a video game. Basing each level on a verse from the classic tune, they attempt to represent visually the relationship that is on the brink of ending. Creator/writer Gordon Calleja is looking to “reflect on the darker side of love: miscommunication, emotional impasse and the sadness of separation. Solace may be found in the brief moment of lightness that comes over us when we come to terms with the reality of an irreconcilable relationship.” Basically,that feeling you get in your stomach when your significant other says, “We need to talk.”
WLTUA? is at it’s core a “Nouveau-Art” set of minigames, but please, please don’t let that keep you from it. As you dig deeper into the game, you’ll find yourself confronting emotions within yourself you didn’t even know you were capable of. Unless, of course, you’re already a full-fledged member of the touchy-feely Generation X, in which case I don’t even have to explain. The art style of the game is somewhat reminiscent of M.C. Escher, if he wore black lipstick and listened to The Cure constantly, while drinking chocolate milk and cutting himself. It raises the sensibility of being in what I call ” The Middle Place,” that feeling you get when your inbetween awake and asleep, when your mind opens and the bed seems to spin. It’s satisfyingly pseudo-realistic, and you can’t help but feel that it’s been developed for you and you alone.
Mighty Box has attempted something different here with this ” loose adaption,” and as far as I’m concerned, they have succeeded. No other game has ever made me confront my 13 year old self, that solemn, insignificant crybaby that had yet to learn the hard lessons that would turn him into who he is today. Quite an accomplishment, if you ask me. Admittedly, there will be some who don’t understand the Joy Division connection, but perhaps the game, with it’s resounding emotional pull, will cause some of you to discover them. Whether you decide on the game, the music, or both, my only advice is to prepare for an exercise in emotion. Oh, and make sure you hide the razor blades.
Will Love Tear Us Apart? is available at willlovetearusapart.com for absolutely nothing.