Always Sometimes Monsters – Preview

Always Sometimes Monsters (“ASM”) is a game about the choices we make in our everyday lives that have a profound impact on us in ways we don’t notice. Here, you’re chasing after the one who got away, and you have one month to raise funds by helping people around town, picking up odd jobs, and networking to get across the country to stop their wedding.

ASM01ASM offers the player an experience that will be almost entirely distinct to them. Depending on whom you talk to, when you talk to them, and what you ultimately decide to do about them, the game plays out differently. Almost every action has a consequence (good, bad, or something in-between) that affects the outcome of your journey. Will you help a little old lady clean her apartment or help a friend set up for his concert? Will you blackmail a doctor to save your friend’s girlfriend, who you hate with a passion?

In my playthrough, I worked at a tofu factory, wrote some articles, walked in on a couple having sex, and met the devs of the game as they sat in a cafe. Something nailed here is that I felt bad whenever I discovered that I could no longer help someone out, like I let them down (sorry people who lost their homes to a development project).

With a storyline that molds to whatever you make of it, Always Sometimes Monsters toys with your morality along your journey to the end in ways that make you go happy or wretch with disappointment at yourself. It’s fun! (Oh, and you can finish the game in three minutes if you want. You’ll see!)ASM02

What Worked: I have never experienced a game quite like this before, and it was very memorable. ASM pulls at the heartstrings and allows you an enormous amount of freedom while still keeping you within the confines of the story it tells. Oh, and thank you to the devs from the bottom of my heart for not giving us an incredibly small inventory.

What Didn’t Quite Work: The in-game time flow of time can be confusing. You don’t know exactly how long each event you’re doing is going to last, so you don’t know if you have time for things you want to do that day. The clock, which resides inside your inventory, can also be difficult to read as it has a meter that fills once you do something story-related. It wasn’t until I understood that I’m not going to be able to go back and help both Friend A and Friend B that I finally felt better about advancing. Unlike Harvest Moon, you can’t squeeze out a bit more time to both harvest and talk to townspeople. You only get to do one or the other, and then it’s the next day.

About the Game From the Devs: The game was largely inspired by a cross-country backpacking trek called Gamer Unplugged where ASM’s writer and co-creator, Justin Amirkhani, traveled around America meeting game developers in an effort to figure out what made them satisfied and happy with their craft.

I did some digging and found this in-depth article on Polygon about the trek here: http://www.polygon.com/gaming/2012/7/23/3177525/a-unplugged-gamers-cross-country-journey-of-introspection. It’s a fascinating read.

ASMlogo

Developer: Vagabond Dog – http://www.vagabonddog.com/

Game Website: http://www.alwayssometimesmonsters.com/

Release Date: May 21, 2014

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