I get Man, I Hate That Indie Game.
I don’t like it, but I get it.
Hate That Indie comes from the developers of Don’t Die Dateless Dummy!, which is far and away the most popular review I’ve ever done here at Indie Gamer Chick. It has more total views from search engines than the next thirteen highest games do combined. This statistic has led to various developers threatening to jump out of windows. And yet, that review is also responsible for me converting many Looky Loos into long-term readers. Incidentally, that’s also why I won’t be shaking any of my fans’ hands at game conventions. I know where those hands have been, and it ain’t pretty.
This follow-up to Don’t Die Dateless Dummy comes at a time when the views for it were finally dropping off. The cynic crowd is decrying it as another soulless boob game designed to attract the genital tug-of-war crowd and make a quick buck. But actually, Hate That Indie is more of an indictment against various gaming factions. The anti-feminist crowd, cynical indie developers, and boob games (I shit you not) are all satirized in an insanely over-the-top fashion here. The basic idea is a group of girls that are part of an indie development club recruit you to help them with their projects, and you’re put in the middle of a power struggle between them. Your.. girlfriend I guess?.. wants to make a game just for the fun of it. The other two are looking for profits. And this is where the game gets touchy for some folks.
There’s the Ex-Indie Developing Cynic who hates indie games because nobody tries to make good games and developers are all geeks who speak in techno-babble and make games with animated boobs. His girlfriend is the optimistic go-getter who has no actual game design talent, and he calls her out on it. Her two friends either want to make games for money by copying existing games or cloning stuff based on what’s trendy, or simply to build their computer science portfolio. Dialog trees only have two options, a good one and a bad one. If you choose the bad one, you verbally tear into the girl in just about the most mean-spirited, online-bully speak possible. This is rubbing people the wrong way.
Guys, come on. This is clearly a satire. And I’m not joking about that either. I’m not playing the sarcastically oblivious game reviewer here. This was obviously a joke. And, in a way, it might be brilliant. I’ve probably talked with close to five-hundred different developers or would-be developers in the two years I’ve done Indie Gamer Chick. Trust me, there are a LOT of people like the main character. Jaded. Bitter. Fed up with the culture and ready to pack up their shit and quit. The main lead, when you pick the “good” answers, is a near-perfect caricature of dozens of guys I’ve talked with. It’s so spot-on that it’s spooky.
As for the “evil” dialog, again, come on guys. You can’t be that thick. It’s the type of over-the-top sexism that is all over the gaming community. The kind that nobody really should take seriously. I went two years without it, and now I’ve been getting it by the boatload ever since I announced that I was working with Indie Royale on an XBLIG-themed bundle with my name on it. The evil options in Man, I Hate That Indie Game! sound just like the stuff I’ve been getting. It’s uncanny. And it’s also clearly parody. The guys take swipes at themselves frequently in the dialog. They make fun of boob games, when in fact this game is itself a boob game. Get it? This was spot on. Perhaps too deadpan though. There’s Leslie Nielsen deadpan and Sean Penn reading the local obituaries deadpan where anyone listening wants to crawl into a hole and die. They did the Sean Penn thing, and it makes the game kind of depressing.
Don’t worry though, you won’t have to do too much of it. I followed the “good” dialog and finished the game in under ten minutes. No, really. There are multiple endings of course. I played a few times and got one where I died alone, one where I stole a girl’s game engine and used it for myself, and finally one where I shacked up one of the girls. This ending even made a joke about doing a time-jump, which seemingly skipped entire chapters of the game. Since I played Don’t Die Dateless Dummy several times and never once got an ending that didn’t die with me becoming an all-powerful virginal wizard (which is the bad ending for some reason), getting laid after approximately six minutes seemed like the total victory of Mount Midoriyama to me. Yea, go figure. I finally play one of these fucking games where I might give two squirts about the story and where they’re going with it and it turns out they don’t really have all that far to go with it. My theory is they needed to make sure the game ended before the blistered hand brigade climaxed.
The biggest problem is that everything wrong with Don’t Die Dateless Dummy from a purely mechanic point of view is still present. When the game ends, you can’t go back to just try the other parts of dialog. You have to start from the beginning. Unless you save, which is a very slow, clunky process that is also quite unresponsive to the controller for some reason. The main draw is still clearly presented as still images of school-aged anime girls. Combine that with the satirical take on indie gaming culture being too short and unrealized (plus an absolutely asinine $3 price tag) and there is simply no reason to get Man, I Hate This Indie Game! You know what? I do hate this fucking game, but not for the reasons people would have thought. I hate it because they actually had a good idea here and didn’t take it as far as it seems they could have. It felt like I was being pitched on this hilarious idea for a game, then the person cut themselves off after a minute by pulling out some piano wire and garroting themselves.
240 Microsoft Points.. seriously, that’s too fucking much.. will be playing the first game by the guys behind this and Don’t Die Dateless Dummy sometime soon in the making of this review. You know what? It’s an RPG that actually looks good!